5 out of 5 stars: ★★★★★
Without a doubt, the most haunting story I have ever read.
((You can click on the name of the book to visit its Goodreads page, and on the author’s name for more information about the author.))
This book is more than a story about the Second World War. Following the stories of a sixteen-year-old blind Parisian named Marie-Laure LeBlanc and an eighteen-year-old incredibly talented German named Werner Pfennigg, All The Light We Cannot See drives home the senselessness of wars and the loss of innocence and great minds for something as trifle as want of power.
I must quote Doerr himself to praise the quality of his writing:
“It’s embarrassingly plain how inadequate language is.”
Seriously. Doerr’s writng style reminds me of the famous YA writer of the Shatter Me series, Tahereh Mafi. Captivating, thought-provoking, and full of emotion. Below are some of my favorite excerpts.
Written in constantly changing time-lines and multiple POVs, this book may make it difficult for some readers to connect with the story (so consider yourself warned), but to be completely honest, it is definitely worth the wait. Not only does this shifting of time-lines and perspectives add a bit of suspense to the story, but Doerr’s amazing writing skills will make you fall in love with each of the characters that you would not be able to put it down. At least I couldn’t. When I began this book, I’ll admit, while I was reading the third chapter (it should be noted that all the chapters in this book are not more than 3 pages max) I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell this book won The Pulitzer. By the time I began the seventh chapter I had my answer. In less than 15 pages, Anthony Doerr had me hooked with his beautiful, almost poetic prose, his incredibly realistic imagery with almost philosophical, scientific references to light, and with two of the most epic, larger-than-life main characters I’ve ever read about. Throw in a handful endearing, strong, supportive characters you will absolutely adore (or hate, depending on their roles) and ladies and gentlemen: you have a Pulitzer winner.
One of the most captivating elements in this book are the characters–each and everyone of them are so diverse, with different backgrounds, and each character has a purpose of giving meaning to the story. Not only do we have two MCs from two different countries, both equally worth sympathizing with, both going through their shares of their nightmares of the war, but the other characters–Marie-Laure’s father and uncle, Werner’s sister and his friend Frederick, as well as other countless supporting characters with different personalities and goals make this story come to life. Its not merely a story about WWII, its a story about the people–civilians and soldiers alike–of WWII.
Another thing make this story stand out how each character got a realistic ending, the kind of ending you would expect them to have if they actually existed…but maybe not the kind of ending you actually want them to have.
Somehow, the plot of this story sort of, in a strange way, reminds me of the Titanic. They both involve this mysterious jewel that is somehow central to the plot and serves to connect all the major characters in the story. In Titanic, it was the Heart Of The Ocean. In All The Light We Cannot See, it is the Sea of Flames. It is through this jewel that Werner and Marie-Laure’s stories begin to merge. Sounds kind of far-fetched, but the writer manages to make it convincing–in fact, I absolutely loved the interconnectedness presented in the story. In the end, that was one of the main messages of the book–that whoever we are and wherever we are, we are connected by invisible light, by the electromagnetic pulses running through our phones and computers, carrying our messages from one corner of the world to another.
There’s only some romance between the two MCs but the writer does not focus explicitly on it. Neither is it your typical love story–its more like a bittersweet love that makes you think of lost opportunities.
The Ending: You know a book is a good book when you see the words The End and this is how you feel:
Next review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund