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Book Review | All the Light We Cannot See

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I wanted to love this book. I was suppose to love this book. From all the ravings and reviews and hype I have been hearing about it over the past year or so, it seemed to ooze with everything I adore in stories. A World War II setting, intricately connected storylines, a promise of a heartbreaking ending, all of which are characteristics that will always draw me to a book.
However, after I finished it and tried to gather my final scattered thoughts and opinions, I felt conflicted.

I did not hate this book. Not at all! The author is extremely talented and has a beautiful writing style. His use of unique verbs and adjectives are fresh and unparalleled. He is able to create magic with his writing, and that, I think was my very favorite part of reading this story. I was sucked into this world and felt for the characters through his voice.

Another thing that I appreciated was that the chapters were also very short, some being no more than a page long, which made it easy to fly through this seemingly long, 500-page book without feeling like any time had passed at all.

The story itself was also intriguing. It is truly like a puzzle. I know that's an extremely cliché metaphor to use, but it is. The pieces are laid out in front of you, and one by one they are put in their place to create the final picture, and when you finally see it all come together in the end, it makes sense.

The book is continually shifting point of views and time periods in order to fully construct the puzzle. The two main characters are Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a radio technician for the German army. While both are interesting to read, I found myself enjoying the sections about Werner more than those on Marie-Laure. I always think that it's interesting to read from the perspective of a German or other opposing during the war when most literature likes to focus on the members of the Allied Forces. Werner felt more real to me. Not that I didn't care for Marie-Laure, she was a also likable enough character, though I found her to be somewhat naïve and childish, even when she grew older.

From what I heard from reviews, and from when I read in the synopsis, I was expecting Marie-Laure and Werner to be more connected then they were. While I wasn't unhappy with the way it turned out in the end, I just assumed that there would be more between them. And also, I was very impatient for them to eventually meet, as the author promises they will. It takes nearly the whole book for them to finally cross paths, and while it was worthwhile when it did happen, I still feel as if it was slow coming.

There were some chapters I also felt to be unnecessary and just dragged the story down, and there were many characters that got mixed up in head. All of these are just little things that I usually forgive pretty easily if I am read a truly good book. And this is a good book. It was everything I expected from the hype. The reason I'm conflicted about my final verdict, however, is the way it ended.

I wanted a bang for an ending. It needed a bang. It was practically promising me a bang. I was prepared for merciless heartbreak. The bang that I expected came. But then it went. And the book kept going. In my opinion the author dragged it out longer than he should have. There were several points that I noted where I believe the ending could've been more impactful. I'm sure that the author had his reasons for doing what he did, and I'm not saying I am wise and all knowing when it comes to these things. I was just expecting something different.

I definitely want to read this book again someday. I want to be able to understand the things that the author did, to see if my opinions change at all, but I would also love to reread it just for the sake of rereading the beautiful story and impeccable writing.

8 comments

  1. I've heard good things about All the Light We Cannot See (especially when someone ended up doing a presentation of the book using a painting), but I've been kind of iffy reading it; you've convinced me to read it, even if the ending does sound like it falls a bit flat.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. It's definitely worth the read! I'd be interested in your thoughts on it if you do read it :)

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  2. You summed the book up so well! And I agree with you. I read All the Light We Cannot See a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed the writing, but the ending didn't satisfy at all.

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    1. It's always hard for me to read a book when it's surrounded by so much hype, but I did enjoy it. I'm glad you agree with me on the conflicting ending though! I thought I was the only one!

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  3. I have seen this book around and thought it looked intriguing but now I really want to read it to see what I make of the ending! *adds to already enormously large book list*
    XOXO

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    1. Haha the struggle of ridiculously long TBR lists is too real. It's worth it, though.

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  4. This was a good book, overall....however I didn't finish it, because some of the chapters made me feel uncomfortable with the language, and sexual talk and stuff.... I just didn't feel right about it, but I loved Werner! He was a classic character that everyone can connect with, for which the author deserves great credit. Great review, Hannah!

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    1. I understand your feelings on it. But yes, Werner's side was most definitely the best part of the story. If it had just been about him and his journey, I would've most definitely given this book 5 stars, no question. Marie-Laure's side just didn't have a lot of action or things to keep it interesting for me. I still appreciate the beauty of this book, though. :)

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