All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Review)

23350066I received this free from the publisher via netgalley

There may be some spoilers, be wary. Also, some mentions of suicide and mental illness.

Theodore Finch is obsessed with death and is constantly thinking about ways in which he could kill himself. One day when on the ledge of the bell tower at school he meets Violet Markey and they grow closer together when they are doing a geography project together.

When I first requested All The Bright Places on NetGalley, I was super excited as I started to see loads of positive things about it, high ratings and good reviews. However, some negative reviews and ratings were starting to come around and I wasn’t so excited. I thought I might as well read it and see for myself. I was hugely disappointed in this book.

I’m going to start with the thing I didn’t like most with this book, and that was Theodore Finch. I, personally, found him to be manipulative, pushy and very creepy. For starters, there was a chapter when Violet and Theodore were talking over facebook, and he wouldn’t leave her alone. I’m going to list some examples.

Example #1

Finch: If you don’t want to talk on Facebook, I can just come over.
Me: Now?
Finch: Well, technically in, like, five or ten minutes. I should get dressed first, unless you prefer me naked, and we have to allow for driving time.
Me: It’s late.
Finch: That depends on who you ask. See, I don’t necessarily think it’s late. I think it’s early. Early in our lives. Early in the night. Early in the new year. If you’re counting, you’ll notice the earlys outnumber the lates. It’s just to talk. Nothing more. It’s not like I’m hitting on you.
Finch: Unless you want me to. Hit on you, I mean.
Me: No.
Finch: “No” you don’t want me to come over? or “no” you don’t want me hitting on you?
Me: Both. Either. All of the above.
Finch: Okay. We can just talk at school. Maybe across the room during geography, or I can find you at lunch. You eat with Amanda and Roamer, am I right?
Oh my God. Make it stop. Make him go away.
Me: If you come over tonight, do you promise to drop it once and for all?

Seriously? Leave her alone. As someone who has personally experience a guy trying to manipulate me into going somewhere with him, this really does not sit well with me. She obviously wants to be left alone.

Example #2

but then he writes: Meet me at the Quarry
Me: I can’t
Finch: Don’t keep me waiting. On second thought, I’ll meet you at your house.
Me: I can’t.

No answer.
Me: Finch?

Then it gets worse.

I throw rocks at her window but she doesn’t come down. I think about ringing the doorbell, but that would only wake the parents. I try waiting her out, but the curtain doesn’t move, and the door doesn’t open, and it is really fucking cold, so finally I climb into Little Bastard and go home.

Well no wonder, it’s the middle of the night and she’s already told you not to come over and you didn’t listen, now your stood outside he house at night staring at her window and you really expected her to meet you? Seriously? It continues…

The next morning. My house. I walk out the door to find Finch lying on the front lawn, eyes closed, black boots crossed at the ankle. His bike rests on its side, half in and half off the street.
I kick the sole of his shoe. “Were you out here all night?” He opens his eyes. “So you did know I was here. Hard to tell when a person’s being ignored while standing, I may add, in the freezing artic cold.

And now he is trying to make her feel bad that she wouldn’t come out IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT to meet this guy WHO WON’T LEAVE HER ALONE, and someone WHO SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE. No wonder, she wouldn’t meet him. Also, she did tell him she couldn’t meet him, yet he ignores it.

Example #3

This time Violet is waiting. As I double over, catching my breath, she says, “Why are you doing this?” And I can tell she isn’t happy or embarrassed, she’s pissed.
“Let’s run so you’re not late to class.”
“I’m not running anywhere.”
“I can’t help you then.”
“Oh my God. You are driving me crazy, Finch.”
I lean in, and she backs up into a locker. Her eyes are darting everywhere like she’s terrified someone might see Violet Markey and Theodore Finch together. God forbid Ryan Cross walks by and gets the wrong idea. I wonder what she’d say to him – It’s not what it looks like. Theodore Freak is harassing me. He won’t leave me alone.

Example #4

Two a.m. Wednesday. My bedroom.
I wake up to the sound of rocks at my window. At first I think I’m dreaming, but then I hear it again. I get up and peek through the blinds, and Theodore Finch is standing in my front yard dressed in pajama bottoms and a dark hoodie.
I open the window and lean out. “Go away.” I’m still mad at him for getting me detention, first of my life. And I’m mad at Ryan for thinking we’re going out again, and whose fault is that? I’ve beenacting like a tease, kissing him on his dimple, kissing him at the drive-in. I’m mad at everyone, mostly myself. “Go away”, I say again.
“Please don’t make me climb this tree, because i’ll probably fall and break my neck and we have too much to do for me to be hospitalized.”
“We don’t have anything else to do. We’ve already done it.” But I smooth my hair and roll on some lip gloss and pull on a bathrobe. If I don’t go down, who knows what might happen.

…Later in the same scene…

“Sorry. But now that you are, let’s go.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
He stands and starts walking to the car. He turns and says too loudly, “Come on.”
“I can’t just take off when I want to.”
“You’re not still mad, are you?”
“Actually yes. But look at me. I’m not even dressed.”
“Fine. Then leave the ugly bathrobe. Get some shoes and a jacket. Do not take time to change anything else. Write a note to your parents so they won’t worry if they wake up and find you gone. I’ll give you three minutes before I come up after you.”

The hell? Do I even need to explain why this is wrong?

So yeah, you could probably guess why I didn’t like Theodore and why I didn’t like the ‘romance’. It made me mad and uncomfortable reading that stuff. This obsession he had with Violet all started because she smiled at him, and then he continued to pursue her, quite forcefully which I did not feel comfortable reading, at all. There were just some many things which felt wrong, the way he ambushed her and forced her to work with him by announcing to everyone by putting his hand up that he chooses to work with Violet. It’s seems like those situations where the guys goes something like ‘What, no hug?” or some shit in front of everyone to make you feel rude and so you do it anyway. It’s gross and it makes Violet uncomfortable and why would you want to put this message across, that this is romantic?

This meant that I couldn’t connect with Theodore and I didn’t feel for him emotionally, but then I felt bad for not liking him in the end due to his own problems. It made me feel manipulated and guilty.

I liked Violet, I really did, but again, I never connected with her. There was also some slut shaming as well, which I didn’t like. I also didn’t like the fact that suicide and mental illness was used as a plot device to further the ‘romance’ and Violet’s character development, and I felt like suicide and mental illness was actually romanticised in a way.

Overall, this book just really did not sit well with me at all. I would not recommend.

RATING: ★☆☆☆☆

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