Review: Holding Up the Universe // Fantastic Story That Feels So Familiar

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RATING : 3-stars

I was excited to read Holding Up the Universe for two reasons 1) I love All the Bright Places and 2) there was that drama surrounding the blurb which people said was offensive (which it really is not) that made me curious. But apparently, it took so long for me to finish this book because I kept being distracted by other books 😦 I eventually finished it, but it wasn’t as good as All the Bright Places.

I love the idea of the story, it’s so unique and important and sending all the right messages especially about self love. I also adore Jennifer Niven’s story telling ability, which is astounding! I mean… remember her previous book? 😛 But I felt like some things don’t make sense, some characters don’t interest me, and there are a lot of characters resemblance to All the Bright Places. ATBP is great but I don’t need two of it.

Actually I do, but not like this.

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I love Jack. That dude is so funny and adorable and so precious. I love how he wants to be descent as well as popular because hello #relatable, those are two things that I want as well 😛 and talk about peer pressure, sometimes I’m forced to do things I don’t want just because my friends do it. Ahem 🙂 I also love seeing him make stupid decisions and then beating himself up because he regrets it, so so precious ♥

But his character is strangely similar to Finch. The way he carries himself and treats others felt so familiar. He doesn’t talk about his condition to his family either, just like Finch. I learned about prosopagnosia on my cognitive psychology class, but I never knew how severe it could be. And if Jack’s condition is that severe, I don’t think he would have been as fine as he was. That dude confused his own family members when he’s in the house (which makes no sense because his family consists of one grown woman, one grown man, a brother close to his age, and a little brother a lot younger than him. All of them have very different features). I also didn’t get why Jack wouldn’t tell his parents and how his parents could have been so oblivious. I mean, Jack’s mom seemed attentive and caring.

Libby, on the other hand, was a little bit difficult to like. At least for me. I love her character, I love how she overcame her condition and the fact that she loves herself which is so important. Remember when I talked about self-love? Libby is the queen of all self love in the world. And the way she sometimes doubts herself and the people around her only made her more real. More people should start thinking the way she does. I root for her, but I just don’t like her that much. It’s also weird that she kept telling her friends to report any harassment to the principal while she completely refused to do the same.

The other characters didn’t make memorable impression on me. I only remember Caroline, Bailey, Jack’s family, Libby’s father, Kam, and probably Seth. I couldn’t even remember Libby’s other friends. I just don’t care enough about them.

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I also have mixed feelings about the romance. I know some people hate romance when it comes to book about mental illness, but I actually don’t mind as long as it has purpose and it’s not treating love as a cure for all. I adore Jack and Libby’s relationship, it’s cute and genuine, but I didn’t actually ‘feel’ the chemistry. It happened too fast so they probably just needed more times (or pages), that’s all. I also resent the fact that Jack could recognize Libby because come on, he’s been living with his family all his life and still has trouble recognizing them. It seemed unlikely for him to suddenly be able to recognize Libby.

This book also has the briefest chapters I’ve ever read! It has only 1-5 pages per chapters which gave me the sense of a fast-pace. It actually didn’t make any difference… so I’m just saying 😛

All in all, I actually enjoyed this book and though it’s not as good and heartbreaking as All the Bright Places, it still has an amazing story. This is a ‘feel good’ book that you’d want to curl up in bed with. But more importantly, this book sends a positive message that everyone needs to hear. YOU ARE WANTED 🙂


Have you read Holding Up the Universe? What do you think about it? If you have read both of Jennifer Niven’s books, which one do you like better? And also, what do you think about romanticizing mental illness? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥ As always, no spoiling major information 😉

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9 thoughts on “Review: Holding Up the Universe // Fantastic Story That Feels So Familiar

  1. Ohhh, I loved this one SO SO MUCH. *hugs it* I do agree with what you said about faceblindness though. Like having it that severe is real! My mum has it very mildly. But the thing is…you definitely can recognise people with faces aside. Like I know my family from the way they walk down the stairs, gosh darn. You know that scene where he goes to get Dusty from a party? THAT MAKES SENSE. Because so many little boys + all the same height + Jack was already super anxious = definite recipe for disaster. So I think a lot of aspects of the faceblindness representation were spot on, but others were just a bit….off? If that makes sense? Buuuuut then again, the author’s note said Jennifer Niven had a cousin (I think?) who has this…so I figure she would know the ins and outs better than me.🙈🙊
    I also didn’t really connect to Libby and all her contradictory aspects. Gah.
    And I adore your photos for this!! 😍


    • I was thinking of the same thinking! The case with Dusty makes sense but the ones involving his family isn’t 😦 Ahhh I missed the author’s note but I think so too, like with All the Bright Places, Niven wrote the characters based on her experience and adequate research so I don’t doubt her haha yessss the dancing sounds really really fun! 😀 Awwww thank you Cait ❤


  2. Great review! I’m a little wary of reading Jennifer Niven because I’ve seen a lot of people say that All The Bright Places heavily romanticises mental illness. I might try it and make that judgement for myself, but if it does then it’s going to be a very painful read for me. Holding Up The Universe, however, doesn’t sound like it suffers from the same problem but then you didn’t enjoy the plot as much, so I’m not sure about reading it haha! I’ll have to go away and have a think about whether I want to try Niven’s books or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually yes hahaha most people also complained about the use of stereotype characters in it but I adore it anyway 😛 ugh I know I was a bit disappointed to because I had high hope for this book, but the plot feels a little… too good to be true? Hahah I’m not sure though there’s just something I dislike 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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