All the Bright Places is a novel which if you buy, you’ll see is termed as the next “Fault in our Stars”. I’m truly flattered it is compared to TFIOS and that is high praise. Because TFIOS has to be one of the most mature, heart-breaking and most complete works I have ever read. Like I said, it is mature, real, not the least bit fake or phony, heart breaking, gut wrenching and uncompromising in its quest for showing us the reality of cancer, and it has the best use of humor I have ever come across in story telling medium. Even in its serious moments, the book pulls off humor without making it feel awkward or forced. But most of all, why TFIOS succeeds, is it’s a book which covers all of the above, but not a book about those things. It’s a book about life. It’s not a book about people with cancer about their cancer or about a disease. It’s about the lives of those people with the disease. It’s a simple story about life; which encompasses everything we know. Hence why that book is a bench mark for all books to be compared against. I’ve been very vocal in saying TFIOS is tied for my favourite book, alongside A Thousand Splendid Suns, and this comes off to me as a huge honor.
Even though All the Bright Places is compared to TFIOS, in my opinion it falls a bit short of TFIOS. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. TFIOS is in itself such a high benchmark, missing it by an inch means the book is amazing. This is because All the Bright Places falls short in two places. One, it isn’t as encompassing as TFIOS in its theme. As in, while TFIOS is a story about life, ATBP isn’t. Second, ATBP has a number of clichés in its story, which is something I felt TFIOS is devoid of. But ATBP has enough to stand on its own and be an amazing book which will hook you, reel you in and then throw you back.
ATBP is a milestone book. It sheds so much light on the human condition. How sometimes we get dragged deeper and deeper into our own darkness, how everyone neglects it because either, a) we are a freak or b) it’s just who we are, and how we are labelled as a freak for doing things differently or because we just don’t fit in. ATBP rises above the mediocre heart break and whiny adult fiction and at times adult books. It gives a story worth reading and getting into and feeling. It gives a story worth remembering.
All the Bright Places centers around two leads, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, and how one fine day, they discover each other in the craziest of situations and then the story unfolds. Little spoiler, if it can be said so, the story is told from the perspectives of both, Theodore and Violet. It adds so much narrative power to it, because it shows us, and makes lucid to us the impact one person has on the other and how the same actions affect both of them.
ATBP is, like TFIOS uncompromising. It doesn’t flinch away from reality, nor does it try to sugar-coat whatever goes on in a high school or our lives. It doesn’t shy away from making the reader go to ground zero of the emotional travails its characters are facing.
Which brings me to how well Jennifer Niven has described the characters and their emotions. I won’t delve into this, since this would risk giving away important plot points. All I’ll say is, the way she writes, if you read properly, you can feel what the characters are feeling and sympathise, or empathise with them. This is one of the places where this book shines. In its portrayal of emotions. This book gets it. It gets it right, right down to the last detail. It hits you hard, and you can only think how it would affect somebody in real life and the actual pain associated.
It made me do so. Think about so many things in our lives which we just take because that’s how they are, and never stop to think whether they are right or wrong.
This is a book which will stay with you. It is, a book which has the power to sensitize you to some things, traditions and behaviours which we just take. ATBP is a book which I believe we should all read, and must be read by all people at a young age, because of what the power it holds. To change some aspect of our humanity as well. This is me straying possibly far away from the book, but this felt important to say.
All the Bright Places is the latest in the books which aims to show that the Young Adult genre is more than heartbreaks and stupid crushes. It shows that Young Adult fiction can stand for more. It shows that all young adults have issues which are big to them and they must deal with, which seem small to adults, who either cannot, or choose not to sympathise.
All the Bright Places is a must watch for anybody who wants to read a novel which rises above the various novels which are unoriginal or unambitious or formulaic. ATBP has various twists and turns and some lessons on life; how things can form you and how you must live with them. How sometimes, things change you in a way that you can never go back, sometimes because you don’t want to.
All the Bright Places is one of the best books I read in 2016. I’m sure all of you who will read it will come to the same conclusion. And as usual, anybody who knows me personally is free to borrow this beauty for a read!