Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teen review: Realistic fiction

All the Bright Places
by Jennifer Niven
388 pages
Realistic fiction for high school

Reviewed by Melody, grade 12

Six stories up on their school's bell tower, Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet. Contemplating suicide is something new for Violet Markey, whose life has been on edge since her sister's death, but for Theodore Finch, contemplating his existence is an everyday act. However, this time things are different. Finch is the one persuading someone else that life is actually worth living. and by saving Violet's life, he begins to think that maybe it really is. Not long after the incident, they are paired up for a project that involves finding adventures and exciting places in their small town. But how many 'exciting' things are there to discover in a town surrounded by dirt and trees? Violet Markey and Theodore Finch will uncover more than their school’s project assigned. It turns out; any place can be exciting, scary, and practically a new world if you are with a person who makes the ordinary seem different – who is different. But is different always free from danger?

In short, this book made me feel tons of emotions at once. I laughed, shed a tear, and felt my heart sink to my knees, only to then hold my breath in anticipation. It didn’t necessarily ‘break my heart,’ but it did stir up some bittersweet feelings. My absolute favorite feature was the relationship building between Finch and Violet. There is something so fun, adventurous, yet brutally honest about them. I really felt like I was with them experiencing their private moments. Perhaps this makes me sound creepy, but let’s be honest, feeling like you’re actually present with a character is a major bonus for a reader! As for the cover, it didn’t really draw my attention, aside from it being appealing to the eye, but after reading the book, I loved it! The title also makes a lot more sense after reading. Also, the author’s note that explains the sad but true inspiration for the book makes everything feel more real and personal.

Now that I’ve stated all the wonderful aspects of the book, I must say there is one thing that bothered me. I can’t get specific about what it is, as that would be a spoiler, but it is truly a hit or miss for readers. There are quite a few scenes that suggest this book would be better suited for a mature audience, especially one that enjoys contemporaries involving peer pressure, reoccurring bullying, and (more often than not) inaccurate labels given in high school. Although there was much praise over this book, I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it. I encourage others to read it and make their own judgments about it. Happy reading!

Editor's note: You might also be interested in what our adult reviewer, Anush, though of this book.

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