Review Time: All The Light We Cannot See

Good books are rare folks.

There were times this year when it felt finding a new book was like trying to find the remnants of a lost ancient city. But when I came to All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, all hope in humanity was restored.

I never cared much about WWII books before this, didn’t care much about WWII after. But holy banana-bombers on a flugu stick, for the time I read this book, Anthony Doerr made me care.

The Basics

It’s nothing flashy on the surface level, it follows the story of Werner a German boy with a gift for fixing radios that lands him in the Nazi military and a blind French girl named Marie-Laure trying to survive in the war.

The Bells And Whistles

Now, I usually read with two hats: my laid-back reader hat that just wants to be told a good story and then my writer hat, the rabid shark-toothed monster that demands for the story to teach me something about the craft of writing or it will flip all the tables in the house.

For the first time in a long time, they were both satisfied. Anthony Doerr has a way of writing his descriptions that feel so real and poetic, that you feel utter disappointed when you close the book and realize that real life doesn’t jump, glitter, and sparkle that way.

Even though it’s not a craft book, to me, it felt like it was and it showed me the level that amazeballs writing can really achieve. It inspired me to work that much harder on my own writing. And if you’re looking into trying to write better description, but don’t know where to start, this book is definitely one to check out.

The “Eh…”

Must we really talk about this? 😦 Ok fine.

  • Jump arounds. The book jumps around in time which can get confusing. I’m one of those people that generally just mow through a book and I sometimes miss the fact that a book jumps. But I’m still listing this because I know some people out there just hate when a book jumps around.
  • Main Character Development/Flaws. I felt like there the two main characters didn’t have much in the way of flaws or changed much throughout the story. Feel free to agree or disagree with me on this one, but I didn’t feel like Marie-Laure had much going for her aside from the fact that she’s blind. I understand that blindness is crippling, but it felt like the blindness was a substitute for actual personality flaws. I’m still not even sure if Werner had one. The lesser characters didn’t have this issue to me, just Marie-Laure and Werner.
  • Going too far with metaphors. This is probably a matter of personal taste, but I’m one of those readers who wants a passage to say what it has to say, say it clearly, and say something that makes sense. I remember there was a line about a can of peaches being liquid sunshine and I felt like it was reaching too far to connect things that didn’t seem that connected, or give them more meaning than they actually had. It felt forced.
  • The Ending. I’m not saying what it is, but I am saying that it felt a bit…eh. With how much build up the story had with both characters, it just seemed like more should’ve been done with them.

Honorable Mentions

  • Really short chapters. I’m talking a few pages. Some chapters are just one page. The book is quite thick, mind you. So you will find yourself flipping through quite easily, and it’s kind of hard to put the book down because you’ll always think ‘well I could read another chapter since it looks short’.

Conclusion

I know that there seems to be more bad than good things listed, but don’t let that fool you! I would still give the book 5/5 because this book changed my perspective as both a reader and a writer. It’s still fun on multiple reads, and there’s so much to learn from it style-wise.

And if it’s of any interest, I have both the Kindle version and a print copy. Both marked up and highlighted.

Any who, I’ve gotta run, but I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I hope that you’re all have a good New Years too. Maybe if you’re still looking for late presents to buy, you might consider this book for a book lover. 😉

 

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