Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Now this was a book that had been raved about on BookTube, particularly by Reagan at Peruse Project, and when something is that loved, I feel the peer pressure. Even more, All the Light We Cannot See seemed like the perfect book for me; a historical fiction set in World War Two, in both Germany and France following two young narrators, blind Marie-Laure and mechanical whizz Werner.
I bought the book. I put it on my TBR list. I stroked the cover and waited hopefully for the day when I'd finished all my uni books and could give it a read. But when I started it, I found I wasn't that enthralled! What was wrong with me?
So I put it down... and then the hype got the better of me again and I picked it back up. I sat down and I concentrated, and I suddenly loved it. I think I got more into the novel quickly due to the very short chapters; once I sat down and motored on through a few of them, I was drawn in, I was hooked. As soon as things began to happen to the characters, as soon as they were thrown into times of crisis, I was enthralled. There was something magical about the characters in this novel, how much you lived for them and wanted them to survive and be happy. The historical detail was beautiful too, not overloaded but just perfectly balanced. I also enjoyed the moving back and forward through the years of the novel, from before the war to years after, as this helped build tension and really grip me, especially when you knew something from one section that would impact another later one greatly.
By the ending the tears had started to pool up in my eyes. Werner! Marie-Laure! I loved them both, and hoped against hope that they would survive. I don't think I realised quite how much I cared for them, and even the peripheral characters; Jutta, Werner's sister, and Daniel, Marie-Laure's father, hardly appear in the narrative themselves, but the reader cares deeply for them because of our deep affection for Werner and Marie-Laure, which is quite a skill. I also loved Etienne and Madame Manec, who made Marie-Laure's scenes in Saint-Malo such a joy.
Overall this was a fantastic book that said a lot about human nature; our fallibility, our kindness, and our brutality. It said a lot about times of crisis, how we can change under pressure, and how we can often push aside issues to do what we love, or be with who we love. But underneath it all we all have morals or a conscience that end up pushing through. I don't feel like I could aptly say what I feel about this book, because it was simply fantastic, and explored and said so much. It's hard to sum it up, so my advice is just to read it.
What is it about? How we see the world, in more ways and our senses. And how we act on what we see.
Would I recommend? Obviously, yes. Why did I even ask myself this question?