all the bright places

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780141357034

Source: Uncorrected proof

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. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love? An intense, gripping novel, perfect for fans of John Green, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham.

I have to admit, a large part of me did not expect to like this book. I read the blurb and dismissed it as another troubled teen epic romance, which is not a genre I’m particularly fond of. However, I found a proof copy when I was at another Waterstones for training and, having heard so much about how great this book is, I decided to take a chance on it. I ended up really enjoying it although the ending is not a happy one.

The narrative is told in the first person, alternating between Finch and Violet’s points of view, so naturally there is some overlap of the narrative at times. I actually liked this as it allowed more insight into the lives of the two protagonists and did not slow the plot down. I did not find myself frustrated by the pace of the story as can sometimes happen when information is repeated.

Overall, I liked the two characters Violet and Finch, although I would have liked to have seen both of their situations explored in more depth. The emotions were touched upon and there was such a well thought out depth to both of their characters and their lives, but it did feel a little isolated at times. It would have been nice to have seen some of their interactions with other people rather than just each other; although these scenes were there – for example, scenes with family – they somehow felt less emotionally ‘full’ than the scenes with just the two of them. Whilst this reflects the idea of them trying to save each other through their relationship, these other scenes are equally as important and I would have liked more of them.

All the Bright Places deconstructs the notion that love can be a cure-all, an outlook which is refreshing to see and the lack of a happy ending only reinforces this point. Overall, this is a well-written and perfectly paced story about two young people struggling to find their way in life.