Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Page Count: 532
This book was pretty weird, but in a good way. It reminded me a little bit of a cross between The Book Thief and The Miniaturist, the former of which I didn’t like and the latter of which I did. Technically speaking I guess it’s a literary/historical fiction novel with elements of magical realism, but that doesn’t really cover the scope of the damn thing. It’s nothing if it’s not ambitious.
One of the coolest things about this is the fact that it’s set during the Second World War, which is a period of history that I’m particularly interested in. I know that not everyone is though, so if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then perhaps this book isn’t for you. For my part, I was actually pleasantly surprised by it and I can’t imagine just how much research must have gone into making something like this happen.
Sure, the plot is pretty slow to begin with, and even though it does start to pick up a little bit as you get more into it, it does start to drag a little from time to time, to the point at which I was just glad to have finished it. It’s one of those books where I’m very glad that I read it, but where I’m also in no real rush to get to it again. I have a lot of respect for books like that.
I’d actually have to say that it’s the characters here that really kept me reading. The title itself also ties back into the characters, with the two main spots being taken up by a blind girl and a young German soldier. They were both cracking characters with believable motivations, and they also held my attention when the story itself started to slow down a little bit.
I still don’t think I’d go out of my way to recommend this one to people, though. I can see why it’s so highly rated and why it won a bunch of fancy awards and stuff, but for me I just thought it was okay, and nothing in particular to write home about. I also think that if it had been any longer, even another fifty pages or so, it would have turned it from a pleasurable experience to a negative and unenjoyable one.
All in all, yeah it’s pretty good read and I’m happy enough with how it all turned out. I’m also glad that I put it off for as long as I did, because I think when I finally picked it up, I was in just the right headspace to actually appreciate it for what it is. You need to go into it with an open mind and to be willing to invest a whole heap of your time into this one, and there’s still a risk that it just won’t work out for you. But it’s beautifully written and pretty damn cool, and so I think you’d be missing out if you just dismissed it offhand. Try it!