Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Pages: 530
Genre: Fiction; Historical
Publisher: Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
Pub. Date:  May 6, 2014

I was so excited to read this because of all the buzz it was getting. It also started to show up on lots of year end lists. So we finally bought out own copy if it. I tried so hard to love this. But I ended up being so disappointed. :(

This book literally tells two different, parallel stories that take place during World War II in France and Germany. The Paris story is about a blind girl who has to escape from her home town and who experiences life in the nazi occupation. The Germany story is about a boy who goes to a school where he is being trained to be a nazi but experiences mixed feelings about it. 

And that is essentially the plot in its entirety. I have definitely enjoyed character driven stories in the last, but I can't say this is what this was. I thought of this almost as a setting driven story. The writing in this book was gorgeous! So the way the author described scenes was truly beautiful. In fact, the very first page/chapter is just a paragraph and drew me in because of the writing. I just felt that the other aspects were lacking to the point that I rarely had the desire to pick the book back up. The other thing I found somewhat bothersome was that most chapters were extremely short and since they alternated between the two stories it felt disjointed, even though the concept of alternating chapters has never bothered me before. And just as an FYI, the two story lines intersect only slightly and not until at least 400 pages in the book.

So in summary, All The Light We Cannot See is beautifully imagined, but there was nothing in the story or characters that made me want to read more. I finished this one for the sake of finishing it.


Irene McKenna said...

After reading so many glowing reviews of this book, it is interesting to read a different perspective. It sounds like you didn't connect to the characters. This is the kind of thing that's likely to be a problem for me, too. Well, it's on my list -- so we'll see. :-) Great review!

Ti said...

Every review I have read so far as listed this as the best read of all time. I certainly appreciate a different opinion though. It's hard to imagine a book being perfect in every way.

nomadreader said...

I am finally reading Life After Life and I kind of feel the same way! I do want to read All the Light We Cannot See, but the plot and premise never intrigued. Until your review, I don't think I've seen a negative one. I'm currently debating if I should listen to it or read it, as the audiobook is also getting lots of accolades. Ugh.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I definitely liked this one a lot more than you but I was slightly disappointed too. It wasn't an absolute favorite for me but I did love the writing and appreciate the two stories. What I liked most is how it portrayed the lives of ordinary people during the war - even those "unaffected" were hugely impacted and lives ruined because of the war.

Marlene Detierro said...

I could hardly put down the book; I was thoroughly caught up in it to the extent that when I finished reading, the characters and the events lingered with me for days.

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