All the Light We Cannot See was recommended to me by a friend, now said friend has always given me great book recommendations and up until this book, the books he’s told me to read have been 5/5 stars. This was the first book that didn’t follow that trend.
When I was told about All the Light We Cannot See, I was told it’s set during WWII and follows a blind girl who lives in Paris and whose father works at the Museum of Natural History. So fat it had all the makings of my perfect book so I checked out Goodreads. On there I found constant five star reviews, in fact I struggled to find anything less so I downloaded it to my Kindle and started to read.
Now I’ll say that I didn’t hate the book, in fact it was enjoyable but I just didn’t love it. The story follows two main characters, Marie-Laure, a blind girl who is brought up in Paris by her father. She spends most of her days curled up behind his desk, in the Museum of Natural History, reading a book or asking questions about the displays. Our second protagonist is Werner, a blonde haired, blue eyed orphan brought up in a mining town in Germany. When the war starts both Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives change forever.
The story itself was clever, I loved the fact that small things in the beginning of the book became big connections by the end and I loved how everything intertwined. My main issue is that I sometimes found it boring. The story focused on our two main protagonists and with that we found out a lot about their childhoods and how what they loved developed who they became. I liked this in theory but in practise I found the constant references to radios and snails, a little boring.
I did love some of the characters; in the beginning I loved Marie-Laure. Losing her sight didn’t make her wallow; instead it made her determined and strong. I loved her when she was a child and how she learned to live with her loss of sight and remain happy. As the book progressed I learned that Werner was my favourite. I was amazed by how he grew as a character and slowly learned how to become a better person.
The supporting characters were also well written, Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne was by far my favourite, his fear to leave the house since the war and his love for Marie-Laure was heart-warming to me. On top of this, Von Rumple was a great villain while Frau Elena and Jutta gave the book a realistic a homely feel.
This all sounds great, right? So why didn’t I love it? Well in the end I didn’t care about any of the characters outcomes except for perhaps Etienne. While reading I loved each character and wanted the best for them but by the end I felt like I’d learned all there was to learn and if everyone had of died, I don’t think I would have cared.
I also found the writing style hard to follow at times, I had previously read A Court of Mist and Fury with a really easy to follow writing style then I went on to this. I found the style pretentious at times and for the first ten chapters I hated the book. In the beginning I felt like the book was written for the sole purpose of winning an award (which it did – the Pulitzer Prize) without any thought towards having an enjoyable story. As I continued this feeling did subside and I realised the story was well written and was enjoyable but I never quite got over the pretentious style of writing.
For anyone thinking of reading this, I would certainly say to go ahead and try it. After all as I said, I didn’t hate the book, I simply found it hard at times and thought it nothing more than an OK book but the end but I do know a number of people who have rated it five stars and loved every second of reading. So definitely try it – you never know, you may end up loving it way more than I did.