I always try to read books that are awarded, so of course “All the Light We Cannot See” was on my reading list for a while now. I fell in love with the historical fiction genre after I’ve read Ken Follett’s “Century Trilogy“, so I felt like Anthony Doerr’s novel and I will be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, and I will tell you why.
A small preview on the “All the Light We Cannot See”
The book is set in the World War II period. It has two main characters that don’t know each other but are bound to meet in the end.
We are first presented young Marie-Laure LeBlanc, who at just the age of six, loses her sights due to juvenile cataracts. She is the daughter of the master locksmith from the Museum of National History in Paris. At the Museum, she hears the story of a very valuable diamond named the “Sea of Flames” of which the legend tells that is cursed and whoever owns it cannot die but their loved ones will be struck by great misfortunes. Also, at her father workplace, she falls in love with sea shells and sea snails, but becomes really passionate about this domain once she receives a copy in Braille of Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”.
The way her fingers flutter through the space around her. Each a thing he hopes never to forget.
The second main character is the eight-year-old Werner Pfennig who is a German orphan and lives with his sister, Jutta, in an orphanage in coal-mining town named Zollverein. He is fascinated by electronics and discovers he has a real talent when he finds a broken radio and manages to repair it. On that radio, he and Jutta listen to an old Franch gentleman who shares stories about science and imagines how he lives in a palace.
Some years later, the War World II starts, Germany invades France and both of the children lives change forever. While Marie-Laure and her father are forced to move out of Paris, Werner, due to his talent regarding radio mechanics, is sent away to a training school for the Nazi military elite.
I won’t say more about the book’s plot because I hate to give spoilers, so if you are interested in the subject you need to buy the book and read it to see how the story ends for our two characters.
Badgery thoughts about “All the Light We Cannot See”
As I previously said, this book had all the right reasons to become one of my favorite novels read this year, but it didn’t. I don’t know why, but we simply didn’t connect. Probably if I were at least 10 years younger I would have felt different about it and write how much I loved it. Who knows?
Most of the chapters were very short and when they were a little longer something felt wrong about them. The only part of the book that made me truly feel the drama of the war were the last 30 pages of the novel. For me, those pages were the best part of the novel. Some will probably contradict me, but this just my personal opinion. In the last part, the story feels real and painful and that made me love it. I think that if you write about the horros of the a war, the reader must actually endure the pain and suffer that an event like that brings with it.
However, it is a good book and if you haven’t done it already, you should give it a chance. It has a Pulitzer after all