All the Light We Cannot See


“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
(First publication: 2014 / This edition: 4th Estate Books 2015)
Taken with a fresh pot of coffee

Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck. (p.51)

There was a lot of hype on this book. It received the National Book Award in 2014, it was all over social media, it has been one of the best-sellers on Book Depository for months, and it took up rows of shelves in Kinokuniya. So, of course I got curious and took one home. I didn’t know much about it except that it’s set in France—Francophile that I am, that was all I needed to be hooked.

It’s a “big” book (530 pages) but it’s easy to read and you kind of just fly through it. The chapters are usually just 2-3 pages long. There are two protagonists—a blind girl and an orphan that becomes a Nazi youth—and the story switches back and forth between their lives. The story also jumps back and forth in time, so it took me a while to get the hang of it. You learn how the blind girl learns and goes through her life, with help and strategies from her very kind and smart father. You learn how the orphan learns his skills that give him advantage over others when he joins the Nazi. There are also other characters surrounding these two and they were all (somewhat) interesting. Everything just kind of “comes together” in the end; everything is linked to this man’s search for the maybe-cursed legendary diamond.

I was waiting and anticipating for their lives (the two protagonists) to intertwine, but it didn’t happen until almost the end of the book…and then the book ended. I felt a bit disappointed because the story was snowballing for so long and it’s like the snowball just fell off a cliff and…that’s all. Finished. Okay. And the fall of the bad guy” was pretty quick and flat, so even though I hate reading about violence, I felt that there should’ve been more “struggle”.

It’s an adventure story and it’s supposed to be thrilling….but I was pretty bored. I felt that though the story has intertwining plots and it’s a historical time-piece, the plot is a little tired and not that memorable. Whenever it felt like it will pick up, since the end of every chapter kind of leaves you hanging…it just doesn’t.

If you are looking for a really thrilling an exciting adventure story, the type where you have to put all the pieces together, I’d recommend “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon) and “Church of Marvels” by Leslie Parry (my review here). Much more intense. 🙂


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