Review: All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.


This book is #10 on my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge list – Read a book over 500 pages long.

Everyone seems to love this book but I just couldn’t get into it. The story centres around two children during the second world war, one in France and the other in Germany. Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Paris with her father, a museum employee with a penchant for crafting tiny, intricate items from wood. As the war breaks out, the family move to Saint Malo to live with the reclusive Uncle Etienne. Werner is a gifted young orphan who gets conscripted by the Nazis due to his talent for fixing mechanical items, specifically radios. The book follows the lives of the children throughout the war but jumps between each (and a few other characters) with incredibly short chapters often a page or so long. It also moves backwards and forwards through time and takes in various other countries as the story unfolds. I found this really hard to follow and due to the brevity of the chapters couldn’t get a real handle on the characters until about half way in. It seemed inevitable that the children would meet and I found the build up far too slow. I enjoyed the last quarter of the book but thought the ending felt too rushed.

Overall, I found the prose very flowery and full of Americanisms which grated when spoken by German or French characters. Clearly this is a long book and although beautifully descriptive I thought it would have benefited from some heavy editing.

Score: 6/10.

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