So, you may have noticed but it has certainly been a while since I’ve written a review. I also did not even come close to my reading goal this year. As disheartening as that is, I have to cut myself some slack. It’s been a crazy year for me and I’ve been doing the best I can to get by–plus life is definitely trending to get more crazy for me! But enough about all that, let’s get to the book review at hand. Which contains a very unpopular opinion…surprise! It also may contain some spoilers here – I will definitely have to hint at the ending to get the point across.
As I read All the Bright Places, I just had this feeling that this book is going to tear me to shreds and maybe I shouldn’t be reading it unless I want a broken heart. Multiple people warn Finch (one of the main characters) about that, telling him to “Just be careful.” I can’t help but wonder if that’s directed towards the reader as well. Although, spoiler alert, by the time the tragedy happened, I really didn’t care anymore. Also, I felt as if it was never really properly explained.
All the Bright Places starts out with some serious subject matter. Two young students on top of a bell tower. One not so unfamiliar with near death situations, the other seemingly new to this. As time goes on, they become closer. And as time goes on, I become uneasy about their relationship. Sure, Finch seems to be helping Violet right now. But, his narrative shows that he is really truly mentally ill and no one is helping him. He needs some serious help. The whole time I’m reading, I keep thinking how dangerous he is for her, even though technically he saved her life.
I don’t think it’s fair to have his mental well-being rest on her shoulders, which at a point it seemed to absolutely be that way. Finch has these times where he completely blacks out, he calls them his “asleep” time, and his narrative keeps saying he is so grateful for Violet because she’s helping him stay in the “awake.” Well, warning signs there. Placing your mental health in the hands of a teen who has her own issues is a serious problem, although I know he has no one else.
I kept wondering how Violet was putting up with his mania-like behaviors. It really shocked me that she kept being ok with his antics. He would have days where he runs through the hallway, pulling her behind him. He would have days where he would encourage her to skip school. He would lie through his teeth because it “felt true to him”. Again, I know that he is mentally ill and this book is trying to shed some light on that. But his friends and family, when he disappears for weeks, was just like “Oh, that’s Finch for ya!” What happened to support systems and why is a girl he has only known for a couple of months the only one who rings alarm bells?
This just seemed like another YA book with serious subject matter that just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I completely agree with exposing young adults to serious subject matter, but we need to teach them how to deal with it, not just come up with a Romeo-and-Juliet type story line with a tragic ending.
As this book is HIGHLY rated on Goodreads, and they are making a Netflix movie about it as well, I’m sure I’m one of the only people who really didn’t like this book. So, if you’re interested in reading to see how off-base I am, feel free to use the link below to get it!