March 5, 2016

Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by: Simon & Schuster  on May 6, 2014



I couldn’t find an official trailer, so here’s a song!

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Gabby-2013I’m a sucker for novels set during World War II. There’s something about the timeline that piques my curiosity and my interest. Naturally, an acclaimed novel like All the Light We Cannot See was one that I had to get my hands on. The praises that the novel’s received and the awards that it’s won left me curious to find out if it truly was as good as it’s been made out to be. I can say wholeheartedly that All the Light We Cannot See deserves everything it’s earned and is a novel that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

              Told between two stories, Marie-Laure is a young blind girl living in Paris when the Nazis occupy the city. Her father, employed at the Museum of Natural History, takes Marie-Laure to live with her reclusive great-uncle in Saint-Malo, but not before departing with a jewel from the Museum that has the supposed power to cause great misfortune and grant immortality. Meanwhile in Germany, Werner is an orphan who has a keen talent for tinkering and fixing machines. When the Nazi party rises to power, Werner begins training to become a soldier where he is torn between morality and duty. Losing the people they love along the way, both Marie-Laure and Werner’s paths cross in Saint-Malo under terrifying circumstances.

              I loved every second of All the Light We Cannot See. It’s the kind of novel that you can’t put down even if you’d like to. The storytelling is perfect as it portrays the characters of Marie-Laure and Werner as children and follows them on their individual journeys during the Second World War. Doerr masterfully brings to life a world that shows the horrors of war and the monsters it can make out of men. Doerr’s writing is compelling and intriguing and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

              All the Light We Cannot See is a piece of historical fiction that weaves a story that feels real and leaves you on the edge of your seat. The novel jumps between points in time, giving us the backstory behind Marie-Laure and Werner’s characters, before jumping forward to the brief point in time where their stories intertwine. All the Light We Cannot See is paced like a thriller and will leave readers with their hearts constantly pounding in their chests. You never know what will come next for the characters and the anticipation of what might happen or what might not happen is beyond exciting.

              My favorite character in the entire novel was the antagonist von Rumpel. He wasn’t like most antagonists who are bad for the sake of being bad. Von Rumpel is a character who we are introduced to early on in the novel and whose desperation and vulnerabilities lead his path to cross with Marie-Laure’s. He’s eccentric and, at times, intimidating. He’s the kind of antagonist who can make a reader’s skin crawl with ease.

              The development of every character in All the Light We Cannot See is amazing. Readers will easily grow attached to characters in the cast and will have their emotions messed with constantly. If you cry over characters, expect to cry a lot during All the Light We Cannot See.

              I would recommend All the Light We Cannot See to just about anybody. Readers who are looking for a novel set during WWII should give it a read. Readers who want a breathtaking read that will leave them stunned shoulder pick up All the Light We Cannot See. Any readers who want a novel that is tragic, heartbreaking, but also contains the slightest hint of hope should also give it a read.


About Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. Become a fan on Facebook and stay up-to-date on his latest publications.


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