The Spotlight Book Club Presents: The All The Bright Places Showcase
The Spotlight Book Club is one of the most exciting things we do on the blog! As avid teen readers, it’s hard to find a book online book club with readers like us all over the world. Each month we choose a book, and we will give you the entire month to read it. On the last Saturday of the month we will post a selection of mini-reviews (ranging from one of us to all of us) along with (we hope) an author interview, giveaway, or something else fun! Throughout the month, you can start threads on our Goodreads group to interact with other book club members. The only rule is you can’t spoil the book for everyone else! (We have revamped our Goodreads group, thanks to Klaudia. In addition, we hope you joined us for our #LURchat on Twitter, where we discussed the book. If you missed it, you can join us next month.)
March’s selection was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven!
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.
And now, our reviews!
This.book. Okay, so it wasn’t the great book in the world or anything, and there were parts I didn’t enjoy or that didn’t entirely sit well with me, but overall, I can see why there’s so much hype surrounding the book. More than the fact that it’s part of the current YA trend, the book explores loss and mental illness so well. This shows the stark reality of mental illness–the way most of society deals with mental illness and those who suffer, the pain and suffering, the way it affects one’s thinking. The book doesn’t shy away from the truth, nor does it glorify such illnesses. But moving beyond that, I loved getting a glimpse of Indiana. I could never see myself ever living there; I’m pretty sure I’m a suburban-city girl, but it made me appreciate the smaller things too. I think that the biggest drawback about the book is the romantic relationship between Finch and Violet. It just never clicked with me until somewhere near the end of the book. Speaking of the end of the book, I totally saw that twist coming, but it still made me cry anyway (but I’m also a weakling when it comes to such things). At the end of the day, I think the end was very fitting of this book, and I came out of this with all the feels but also so glad I had read it. You can read my full review on Fly to Fiction.
I loved the characters in this book. Finch and Violet are two people who don’t have a lot in common yet become such good friends anyway. I liked that. If Violet and Finch didn’t become friends and just didn’t know each other, this book would obviously be a very different story. I also liked how these two came together because of a school project. (Even if Violet acted like she wanted nothing to do with Finch.) A strong relationship is an incredibly important part of a book.One of the things that scared me when I went into this book was the ending. I had heard that people thought the ending was really sad and that they cried. Throughout the book, I got ideas as to why the ending was so sad, but I didn’t want to spoil myself with the ideas, and I denied the facts. Yes, my assumption about why the ending was sad was correct. I cried, I really did. [Insert Jessica’s note: Me too, Kaitlin. Me too.]One of the reasons why I think I liked this book so much was because I liked Finch so much. I liked his character and how open minded he was. He was also a person where everything he said made you question everything. He wasn’t afraid of being weird or expressing how he felt. Reading from his perspective was always so fun and great. Finch’s personality is one of the reasons why this book can function the way it does, and I continue to love reading from and about his personality daily.
If you would like to read the full review, click here
I really liked this book, and my favorite part was all the Indiana references. As an Indiana resident, I was familiar with some of the destinations where the protagonists “wander,” and the story made me want to get out and explore my state a bit. I also adored both characters’ voices—their styles are both witty, intelligent, and emotional, and I fell in love with each smart and sensitive protagonist.
My only complaint about All the Bright Places revolves around the secondary characters, all of whom are a bit underdeveloped. Violet has the stereotypical caring family—perfectly happy before her sister’s death, still doting afterwards—and Finch has the stereotypical toxic family—violent father and distant, absent mother—and readers don’t get to see much more than that. Worst of all are Violet’s old friends from before the accident that killed her sister—they are basically only referred to as “sluts” and are only characterized as stupid popular girls. Readers do get a brief glimpse of a deeper side of one friend, but it’s short-lived and doesn’t make up for the narrow overall characterization of the girls.
Still, since All the Bright Places focuses so much on Violet and Finch and their relationship, the underdeveloped characters do not present as much of a problem as my last paragraph may indicate. As the cover proclaims, this book tells “the story of a boy called Finch and a girl named Violet,” and in that regard it absolutely succeeds. That story is heartbreaking, smile-inducing, full of witty banter, and so much more, and it’s sure to make fans out of plenty of contemporary readers.