You can’t get much bigger than John Green and Rainbow Rowell in the YA sphere – especially when it comes to writing about troubled teens who can’t help but fall in love. When All The Bright Places landed on the table in the staff room, promising to be just as good as Mr Green and Ms Rowell, I couldn’t help but feel intrigued.
John Green is someone who I confess to have an unhealthy addiction with and worship any string of words that emerge from his pen. Likewise, with Rowell, I can’t help but greedily inhale anything and everything that she creates.
Jennifer Niven might have done something quite incredible however. I think she’s written one of my top five favourite YA novels ever. EVER.
Finch and Violet – two characters who might just rival Hazel and Gus – meet when they both attempt to commit suicide on the school bell tower. What develops is a friendship formed on a mutual understanding of each other and the desire to find something in the world worth living for.
Mental health is a tricky subject to understand, to talk about and to write about. But Niven seems to do this with total ease, capturing the very essence of what it’s like to go through depression. There were occasional moments as I read All The Bright Places where I just had to stop and take a deep breath – the words stirring up long buried emotions and feelings. But that’s the magic of her writing – it evokes emotion in you so quickly and so strongly that you can’t put the book down. You are so invested in the story of the characters that leaving them is not an option.
I read this book in one sitting. I got into bed, turned on my bedside lamp and started to read. I didn’t stop until I’d finished in the early hours of the morning.
The last time I did that with a book was when I read The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. But, do you know, I think All The Bright Places might just stand a shoulder above Perks. I don’t know why. It feels real, it feels personal, it feels understanding but most of all it feels like someone understands me.
If there is just one Young Adult book you read this year then I heavily recommend that it is this one.
It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.