Friday, September 5, 2014

Bright and Fake Things...

Expected Publication:  January 6th, 2015
All the Bright Places
By: Jennifer Niven
ISBN-13: 9780385755887

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & 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 Violet and Finch 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.


     Violet used to be a happy-go-lucky cheerleader, and all-around popular high school student, who ran a blog with her sister Eleanor.  She was involved in extracurricular activities and had the perfect boyfriend.  Then she was in a horrible car crash that took away her sister, and left her drowning in her grief.  Now, almost a year later, Eleanor is barely making it day by day.  So when the school weirdo, Finch, finds her up on the ledge of the bell tower and talks her down, Violet is kind of annoyed with him.  Finch begins inserting himself into her life, with his inability to understand the word "no" and his larger than life, quirky personality.  Partnered for a project on state "wonders," Violet begins to let her guard down and live life again.  But Finch, who is struggling with crippling depressive episodes, is sliding further down as Violet climbs her way upward.  Can they save each other, or will their story be unable to find a happy ending?
     I have superbly mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand, the portrayal of depression in the character and behaviors of Finch, was very realistic and I appreciated that the author didn't diminish his struggles and make everything get resolved magically at the end of the book.  On the other hand, Finch's quirky, variant personality was a little too "different."  It was a case of the author trying to hard to make him interesting, unpredictable and relatable.  If I want to care about a character, he doesn't need to be so unique as to almost circle around again to Gary Stu status.  Violet was the opposite.  I really thought she was extremely dull, lifeless and just all-around two dimensional.  I understand that she's still grieving her sister, but it was like she was the personification of the color gray.  I liked the writing style and the literary quotes.  Some of the one-liners were awesome.  I just feel like this book spent so much time trying way too hard to be the next big thing, that it delved into cliche territory and overreached itself.  And the ending was believable, but at the same time, contrived to make the reader emotional and tearful.  I myself was emotionless and scoffing.  Overall a decent effort and definitely points for beautiful writing.  But really nothing all that memorable or special.

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is January 6th, 2015.*

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