If you are looking for a review that praises ‘All The Bright Places’, then you are in the wrong place.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed aspects of the book. The idea of writing about a teenage boy experiencing depression was wonderous, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from that perspective, it was a unique insight, and you could tell that the author had done her research as mental health was represented amazingly, rather than romanticised.
Violet and Finch’s love story was told through all of the bright places in their life, which was a romantic notion, all of the die-hard The Fault in Our Stars fan would love it. It was emotional, and some of the places they travelled to I even enjoyed, but it was an obvious cliché, but do you abhor cliches? They’re fun, that’s why they are cliches because they can be enjoyed.
I also enjoyed the way she presented how a person grieves through Violet, the rawness and the excuses were poignant and beautifully written, but in all honesty, I hated Violet with all my being. I appreciated how she managed to make something of herself while grieving for her sister, and I enjoyed reading about her moving on. However, I did not become attached to her emotionally, I didn’t care about what happened to her. I’m glad she found the strength to move on, but that was it. I can’t explain why I didn’t like her, maybe I saw too much of myself in her, or maybe I didn’t see anything in her personality that made me wish to like her and care about her.
The romance between Violet and Finch, while heartfelt, was unnecessary, it shows a young adult audience that the only way someone who is grieving and suffering from depression can find hope is through loving someone romantically when I don’t think they were in the right mental state for a relationship. If the author had kept the relationship platonic, familial almost, there may have been even better character development, why promote the trend in which a man and a woman can’t just be friends? Why not show a relationship where they can hold hands and be affectionate and love each other without bringing lust into it?
What was ultimately sad about the book is that Finch and Violet being romantically involved made them okay for a short time, but this just shows that the only way people can be happy is when someone makes you happy, why not show that you have to make your own happiness, write about the battle to being what makes you happy, rather than relying on the fragile happiness that someone gives you.
I was also irritated by the way Finch’s story ended, he was a beautifully written character with flaws, he was someone that if whoever read this book, they would be able to find themselves in him. He had quirks and flaws, and while having a mystifying aura, he was one of the most realistic people in the novel, not that I am saying Violet was unrealistic, I just didn’t relate to her in the way I related to Finch. Finch was the epitome of a damaged teenager, horrible parents who only cared about the idea of him, rather than wholly him. Bullied and called a freak for being slightly different, and irreversibly damaged with a fear of being labelled. I hated Finch’s ending because it really made me lose hope, I felt like his ending was used to help Violet develop into the person she became at the end of the book, to become the strong woman who lost the most important people in her life, to become someone to look up to. But what about looking up to Finch for admiration? He deserved a chance, he deserved a better ending than what he was given. I’m not saying he should have fully recovered, I’m saying that the people reading this book who may be suffering from depression may wish to see that there is hope. However, I can also appreciate the idea that the writer ended the book this way to show how devastating depression and suicide can be.
This book deflated me, I was making excuses so I didn’t have to read it, but I cannot bare to leave a book unfinished. I kept hearing reviews saying that this book changed lives, I can only say that it dragged mine down. I suppose in the midst of the Romeo and Juliet situation the characters found themselves in, the book had a real message which the author left at the end of the book. I didn’t want a happy ending, but I wanted a hopeful ending for all the characters, but the book paid homage to the Fault in our Stars trend.
I am a thorough believer that you may be able to appreciate books at different places in your life, I may reread this book next year and actually relate to it that time round as my mindset may be in a different place. But I am conscious that we are in the present, so I am leaving this book with 2 out of 5 stars.
There is no denying that the author is an incredibly talented writer and a very understanding person with regards to mental illnesses, but this book just wasn’t my cup of coffee, but that does not mean that it is not yours.
Love From, Davina