As soon as I saw the cover and read the quote “This is the next Fault in our Stars” I had a feeling All the Bright Places wouldn’t be my cup of tea. I should probably listen to my gut feeling more often haha. While I didn’t find All the Bright Places life-changing or soul-crushing – in fact, I found one third of the book particularly boring – I’ll admit that the last one hundred pages were rather memorable and I would highly recommend it to my friends/anyone who liked The Fault in our Stars i.e. 99% of the population but definitely not me.
The main reasons why All the Bright Places didn’t work for me
- Couldn’t connect with the characters
This is a it’s not you it’s me thing, but I felt there was no intimacy between me as the reader and the characters I’m reading about, and that’s a very serious issue for me. If I can’t connect with the characters on any level, then there’s no point in continuing with the book.
The story is told from alternating perspectives of Finch and Violet, an approach that was executed terribly. I couldn’t distinguish between the two voices as they sounded exactly the same. On more than one occasion, I started reading a new chapter thinking it was from Violet/Finch’s perspective, only to later realise that it was actually from the other character’s POV. Violet and Finch had the same dull voice and that truly frustrated me as a reader.
- The characters didn’t have chemistry
Violet and Finch had no chemistry, in my opinion. I realise this is probably a result of feeling disconnected from the characters and the storyline, but the fact remains: I didn’t feel any chemistry, which made it infinitely more difficult for me to root for them.
- The constant references to dead poets and statistics
I’ve always hated poetry. I can’t wrote poetry nor can I analyse them. I’m sure there are readers out there who appreciated the references to dead poets and the death related statistics, but I wasn’t one of them. It ruined the flow of the story for me because I had no interest in the information and skipped most of it.
I considered giving up after 100 pages but forced myself to continue reading because I make it a point to always finish books that I paid for. (Otherwise I’d feel like my money was wasted) . I ended up skimming almost 260 pages until FINALLY after page 260, Mr Embryos/Finch semi-explained what was wrong with him. As soon as I discovered Finch’s possible ‘diagnosis’ – or since Finch hates labels so much, the possible explanation for his erratic and uncontrollable behaviour – I developed a newfound interest in the book. I wanted to know more about Finch and what this illness could do to a person if untreated.
As I mentioned before, the last 100 pages were extremely memorable; Finch’s condition was heartbreaking and I wished someone had noticed what he had been going through for so long. I didn’t understand how everyone just brushed off his behaviour as “it’s just Finch”, like it’s completely normal for anyone to just up and disappear for months and then come back as if nothing had happened. I didn’t understand how Finch’s older sister Kate was aware that he was away from school for months but didn’t care enough to see what wrong with him? I especially hated Finch’s mum; how could she be completely oblivious to everything that was going on under her roof?
All in all, All the Bright Places wasn’t for me but I would recommend it to all contemporary readers! I think I’ll give Jennifer Niven’s books another go sometime in the future, but I’ll be approaching them with caution and low expectations.