By: Melanie | January 16, 2015 | (74) Comments

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 384
Source: Received in exchange for review
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The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

It’s been quite a while since I picked up All the Bright Places, and still, I cannot conjure up the right words to review it. The only thing you really need to know before picking up this book is that the title is very deceiving. It is incredibly evil, you see, because this book is not about all the bright and happy things. Sure, there are uplifting moments but I’d be lying if I said this book was about all that. I’ll also add that All the Bright Places has been described as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park. Now, I hate X meets Y comparisons, and this one is no different. While I can sort of see the comparison, all three of these books are so different in almost every way possible, and that becomes evident once you read this novel (which I HIGHLY recommend you do).

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey may look like they have nothing in common at first, but when they meet at the edge of the bell tower, their lives are changed forever. The book immediately pulls you in because of the distinctly one-of-a-kind narrative voices that Finch and Violet possess. Everyone at school considers Finch a freak because of his strange behaviour and spontaneity. But underneath all that high school gossip, he’s really just a fun and unique boy who views the world a different way. As for Violet, her narration is much darker. She may be a popular girl at school but she counts the days instead of living them. She’s still grieving from her sister’s death which is affecting her harshly and she no longer knows where she stands in the world.

I wonder what it’s like to walk down the street, safe and easy in your skin, and blend right in. No one turning away, no one staring, no one waiting and expecting, wondering what stupid, crazy thing you’ll do next.

With dual POV stories, there is the risk of the reader finding one POV more interesting than the other. Admittedly, I found that Finch’s POV engaged me more–perhaps because I could empathise with him more than I could Violet. As a result, I wasn’t 100% engaged with Violet’s story arc, which was a shame. However, that is just a small quibble that I had, and soon got over with as the plot thickened and moved along. That being said, I did have another criticism which was that sometimes I was bored. In some places, a lot was going on, other times; not so much. I felt that the pace could have had more smoothing over. Other than that, this book was nearly without flaw.

I cannot finish this review without mentioning the prose. Jennifer Niven clearly has a gift, for her writing is utterly beautiful and caught me at the first page. I definitely won’t be hesitating to pick up her future novels because this debut of her’s screams even more potential for the future. Ms. Niven is an author that y’all need to be closely watching, because she’s sure to break more hearts (heck, let’s make that a million) further down in her writing career.

All the Bright Places will surely capture several people’s hearts (and crush them slowly) with it’s stunning prose, authentic characters and brutal honesty. This excellent debut is one that everyone should be giving a go, because honestly, this book is bound to surprise readers with the emotion that is poured over those pages.

Believe the hype. 

~Thank you Penguin for sending me this copy!~

4 Stars
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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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74 Responses to Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  1. I’ve seen so many raving reviews on this one! I really want to read it. I also don’t like it when they compare a book to others. Like “a YA version of a Game of Thrones”. Hmmm, I highly doubt that. It can give people wrong expectations about a book.

    Such a great review, I look forward to reading this! And I wonder whose POV I’ll find more interesting…
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…Review: Lane Changes (PI Cassie Cruise #1) by S.L. EllisMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I just get turned off by comparisons in general <.< Thanks, Jolien! You might love both POVs equally! But for me, I liked Finch more than Violet even though both were fantastic.

  2. Hilary says:

    I’ve never heard of this book (which is strange, considering the hype you said that was surrounding it). But I REALLY REALLY want to read this book even though I didn’t love Tfios or Eleanor and Park.
    Hilary recently posted…Review: The Infinite Sea by Rick YanceyMy Profile

  3. I can’t wait to read this book!! *-*

  4. Stuti says:

    Everyone is reading this book. And some of them loving it.

    I just love the cover. I’ll read it for Finch!

  5. I’ve heard only good things about All the Bright Places and I really want to read it. I love when books have authentic characters because that makes the emotion so much stronger. From what I’ve heard it also sounds like a beautiful story overall.
    Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Mean’t To Read But Didn’t Get ToMy Profile

  6. All The Bright Places sounds really good, Melanie, and I’m happy you enjoyed Finch, because I have read other reviews where people didn’t really like him very much.
    I hadn’t planned on reading this, especially because of the comparisons you mentioned, I always get a strange little feeling when there is a comparison in the summary, it’s like the story can’t make it on its own. Now, I want it, though, so I’m adding it to my TBR. Great review 🙂
    Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Feature and Follow Friday #94 – Doubles?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, people have mixed thoughts on who they like better: Finch or Violet but I did love both, but Finch a little more xD Thanks, Lexie! I hope you have a lovely weekend too xx

  7. Wattle says:

    I think 90% of the blogs I follow have read/are reading this and the response is mostly positive. So I’m curious, think I’ll have to check it out and see for myself 😉
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: Meet Your Baker by Ellie AlexanderMy Profile

  8. I want to read this but I’m scared of the feels. XD
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…Review: Croak by Gina DamicoMy Profile

  9. I HATE X MEETS Y COMPARISONS AS WELL! They’re always so inaccurate PLUS they set up such unrealistic expectations that honestly just put me off the book.

    Darker narration? Brutal honesty? I want to cry to. I’m going to have to conquer my contemporary fear and try this one out some time soon. Lovely review, Mel! x
    Jess @My Reading Dress recently posted…The Reluctant Cleaner of the Goodreads’ Currently Reading ShelfMy Profile

  10. This book has all the hype at the moment. It sounds great! I can cope with a slower pace when the characters are interesting so I don’t think that would overly bother me. Obviously I need to get my hands on this one!
    Trish @ Between My Lines recently posted…Book Review : Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversMy Profile

  11. I’m glad this one impressed you so much Melanie!!! I don’t think it’s the book for me – too heavy, I need happy, light reads at the moment – but maybe when I’m in the mood for brutal honesty I’ll pick it up. Your review was lovely though, as always!!!!
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Friday Flourish: Paris, Modigliani and MeMy Profile

  12. I actually don’t know whether I am brave enough for this book. Because from the reviews I’ve been seeing, this novel is going to stomp all of my feels. And there is really only so many sad books I can read. TFiOS took that up for the next ten years or so. Okay, okay, so I know I WILL read it. But I am very hesitant, because a) you know, hype. Even when people say to believe the hype I’m still wary as there’s been SO MANY books that’ve never lived up to my (massive) expectations. And b) I have a very love / hate relationship with sad things.

    But when a reviewer says a book is almost with flaw, then I simply must read it. ^_^

    Okay, I think that’s enough rambling from me. Wonderful review, Mel. 🙂
    Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer recently posted…Friday Photography (8) The Sunset EditionMy Profile

  13. So many people have been raving on and on about this book. I just don’t think it’s the book for me. I’ve heard about the kind of book it is and I tend to shy away from those kinds of books. Still, I’m excited that you liked it so much even though you were invested in one character more than the other and were bored a few times.
    Beautiful review, Mel!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonMy Profile

  14. That title really is misleading because at first glance I was like “oooh, a happy-go-lucky book” and then I read your review, and was like “slowly heart crushing!?” That was… unexpected. I dislike it whenever a novel is compared to another in the blurb, but if this one is even remotely close to on par with he Fault in Our Stars, I fully expect it to be earth-shatteringly good.
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Audiobook Review: Ensnared by A.G. HowardMy Profile

  15. Oh, Melanie, you’re so right. I still haven’t been able to conjure up enough words for a review. But yes, this book is incredibly beautiful. It doesn’t need a happy ending because of the poignant ‘realness’ of if. Great review <3
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…Some 2015 Books That You Should Add To Your To-Read ListMy Profile

  16. I’m liking the sound of this more and more, especially after all the reviews I’ve seen pass these past couple weeks. It seems like everyone’s reading it, and the reviews are mostly positive! I like the contrast between the two different characters, and how they end up saving each other. Your review definitely makes me want to pick up this book to give it a try!
    Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections recently posted…Book vs Movie: The Fault In Our StarsMy Profile

  17. Cynthia says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I read it when it came out and loved it. I wound up sobbing in the middle of the night because that’s when I finished it. Ha. It was so good.
    Cynthia recently posted…BOOK REVIEW: The Same SkyMy Profile

  18. Tanja says:

    This books is everywhere lately. I will have to read it, not only because everyone is reading it, but because it seems like my kind of read. I love a bit darker stories and this one seems like a great one. So glad you enjoyed it. Great review, Mel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn FisherMy Profile

  19. I’m starting the audio for this today… and I’m scared! I know I’m in for some feels…
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Audiobook Review & Giveaway: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall!My Profile

  20. oh, God. I just know this one is going to crush my heart into a thousand tiny pieces and WHAT WILL I DO THEN? I read at work . . . this will not end well.

  21. I am reading wonderful reviews for this one, but I just cant’ make myself pick up another one of these brutally heart breaking books. I am already reading I’ll Meet You There right now.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Friday Forecast: January 18th-24thMy Profile

  22. Rachel says:

    Nice to hear this lived up to the hype for you Melanie. Any comparison to The Fault of Our Stars has me hesitant to pick this up because I’m not a fan of a sad story or a cancer book of any kind. I’ve lost someone to cancer (sometime ago) and so I don’t want to read about it. Excellent review! 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…Blog Tour: The Body Electric by Beth RevisMy Profile

  23. I was thinking this one had a much happier tone given the title and cover of the book. Hm… sounds much deeper. Despite not connecting to Violet it does sound like a gripping book. Might have to try it one day.
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Art Book Review: Daily Painting by Carol MarineMy Profile

  24. Giselle says:

    Omg right? This story is definitely not all bright and happy. Though I did love how spontaneous he was and but all it did was made me even sadder about his sad moments. Like this kid could have been so much happier if he had gotten the help he needed, you know. I didn’t find Violet as interesting either. Glad you liked the book though this is one that sticks with you bc it’s so honest and blunt!
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Illusionarium by Heather DixonMy Profile

  25. This is one of those books that I’m both wary and excited for in equal measure. I know a lot have spoken about its potential to hurt a reader in the most unexpected way, but at the same time, it’s something that can’t be missed. Right now, I think I’m just waiting to get into the right mood for it.

    Lovely review, Mel.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[480]: Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelMy Profile

  26. afjdasklfd this book is the best thing I’ve ever read. It’s totally cemented on my shelf next to TFIOS now. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. *cries because is still heartbroken* I actually totally agreed with the TFIOS comparison, but the E&P was a bit ridiculous. I feel like half the time people who make the X meets Y comparisons are just pulling famous YAs off the shelf blindly. -_-

    STILL! THIS BOOK. YES. (I just got my sister to read it and she’s still furious at me. xDXD So I gave her We Were Liars. I…I…may have damaged her.)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Hello, My Name is WriterMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      While I see the TFIOS connection, I just hate it when they have comparisons because it gives me unrealistic expectations and I really feel like every book is different, even though on the surface they seem similar, if you know what I mean 🙂

      OMG CAIT YOU SNEAKY PERSON. I FEEL SORRY FOR MIME D:

  27. I sort of guessed that this book won’t be ‘bright’ despite the title, but still I want to read it. I kinda like the idea of “saving each other”, though it’ll probably broke my heart again like tfios.
    Glad you enjoy it, Mel!
    Tiffany @ The Bookish Thought recently posted…Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn’t Get ToMy Profile

  28. I really need to read this book. Most of the reviews I’ve stumbled upon were just praising this book’s prose and how it gently and meaningfully tackled dark concepts such as suicide. They keep saying it’s raw and riveting and I want to feel that emotional connection, too. I just hope I won’t be crying too much when I cross the bridge!
    Faye le Potato recently posted…ARC Review: Golden Son by Pierce BrownMy Profile

  29. THIS BOOK *sobs* Finding the appropriate words to review it is an achievement. You deserve a medal for being able to word your thoughts so well.

    I fell in love with this story from page one. Both characters were amazing and both their stories made me experience more emotions than I wished. It’s a shame you struggled to connect to Violet and that you got a little bored 🙁 The writing captured me so quickly I couldn’t put it down so I never experienced such things (though I do admit it could get a little slow every now and then)

    Great review, Mel!
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  30. I’m so conflicted! I bought this book after I read one review because I knew I would enjoy it but I have so many more books I need to read before. I’m so happy you enjoyed this book even though you weren’t as invested in Violet’s POV… I think I may just have to start this next week. I’m that weak from all these wonderful reviews.
    Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind recently posted…My Little Monster 2 by RobicoMy Profile

  31. I agree with all the things. I seriously don’t even know how to review this, because.. well, you know. But you are SO right- those comparisons don’t make sense (and I also despise them in general). This book is really different than those, and really quite important. I was more engaged in Finch’s POV as well, but Violet grew on me as the book went on. Great review, my heart may be breaking all over again.

  32. Everyone is raving about All the Right Places so I can’t wait to read it! Great review 🙂
    Liza @ Reading with ABC recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #109My Profile

  33. Maddy E says:

    I feel like such a black sheep with this one! I loved the characters and the story, but something about it held me back. I don’t know if it was the writing, or the darkness (unlikely, I love dark stories) but there was just *something* about this book that made me a bit uncomfortable. Like, it made my head hurt a bit. I can’t put my finger on it because I don’t know how to describe what it did to me. I just physically couldn’t bring myself to finish this book. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
    Maddy E recently posted…Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

  34. Kelly says:

    Completely agree Mel, it lives up to the hype. I had trouble putting my thoughts down too, I just felt absolutely destroyed. Spot on, I’m sick of book comparisons too, but for me this blew anything John Green could have penned out of the water. He tends to romanticise mental illness and illness in his books, where ATBP was just so raw and honest. She’s now on my auto buy list as well. Brilliant review poppet, so glad you enjoyed this one as well <3
    Kelly recently posted…There Will Be Lies by Nick LakeMy Profile

  35. I just started this on audio last night. I’m scared now. LOL I hope I’m prepared for all the feels!!! :-/
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Audiobook Review: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth EulbergMy Profile

  36. I love that the hype surrounding this one is real, Mel. I haven’t gravitated towards it much myself, but your praise of the prose–and the dual PoV which is so hard to pull off–really has me determined to pick this one up. Fantastic review, dear, and thanks for pushing it onto my TBR. 😉
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: Golden Son by Pierce BrownMy Profile

  37. Kim says:

    I’m so glad that you loved this one because I just picked it up on Audible! Great review! 🙂
    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor
    Kim recently posted…Review: Never NeverMy Profile

  38. I BELIEVE THE HYPE.
    I just had to go and buy this one the day it was released because All. The. Hype. I haven’t even seen a review personally that was less than 4 stars. It looks lovely on my bookshelf too.
    Great review! I completely agree – books should not be compared like that. I just try to tune out when I see it now.
    Olivia (Bookcomet) recently posted…Counting the Stars 79#My Profile

  39. Lovely review, Mel! I won’t be reading this one due to the ending, but I hear the writing is gorgeous and I’m sad I’ll be missing out on it. :/ Just right now, I can’t with sad books.
    So glad you were able to connect to this one. Thank you for sharing!
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…Mini Reviews [9]My Profile

  40. Eileen says:

    Not sure how much I want to pick this one up because I’ve heard it’s incredibly sad 🙁 Your review does make me want to read it more though. I want to try the beautiful prose! Thanks Melanie 😀
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  41. I absolutely adored this story as well. It reminded me so much of people I know and I think that’s why it hit me harder. I’ve been making everyone around me read it haha!
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Top 10: Words I OveruseMy Profile

  42. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw in it Goodreads.I was totally captivated by the cover and the blurb,and after reading your review now,I am dying to read this book now.
    I love myself a tearjerker and I think this will be perfect for me to get over my reading slump.
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  43. Your review was 1000% perfection!! I agree with everything you said and I’m still thinking about this book now, even after having read it last year. Did you cry? I definitely did (hopefully there are no tear stains in the book now). I can’t wait until she releases another book, and fingers crossed she won’t break our hearts again.
    Gina @ Behind the Pages recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (41)My Profile

  44. Everyone seems to be LOVING this book, my goodness. I think I may actually have to read it. Although, hype always terrified me because more often than not I don’t like it very much >.< I hope that won't be the case with ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES because it actually sounds really awesome, and heaps of trusted bloggers have been raving about it!

    It's a shame that you didn't connect to Violet's chapters/arc as much, and that the pacing wasn't the greatest, but I'm glad you still enjoyed it overall, Mel!

    I love books with beautiful prose + those that break your heart. So wish me luck with this one!
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Mini Reviews Volume #4My Profile

  45. Susan T. says:

    I loved this book even though it broke my heart! I loved Finch and Violet so much, especially Finch. 😉 It took me a few days to get over it!

  46. Benish K says:

    Aw, I’m glad you liked this one<3 I loved Finch the most from this novel, his character was beautiful. Lovely review 🙂
    Benish K recently posted…Becoming Rain Review | K.A Tucker ♥My Profile

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