All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a historical fiction set during World War II, following POVs from both sides of the war. This is a book that had been on my owned tbr since 2016 so I was glad to be able to get to it thanks to the MiddleEarthAThon and the Mary-Shelley-A-Thon!
As mentioned there are 2 POVs in this book (as well as the occasional other POV to add context). The first is a young Parisian girl, Marie-Laure, who went blind at around 6 years old, her father made a detailed model of their area of Paris so that she would be able to learn her way around. The second point of view is from a young German boy, Werner, who is an orphan living in a rural coal town. Both end up being more involved in the second World War than they had expected, just trying to survive.
The character building throughout this novel, as both of our main characters grow from young children to young adults, is done so well. They are both growing up under awful circumstances which shape who they become, and it’s fascinating to see how their thoughts alter and change over time. Marie-Laure’s POV is crafted carefully, because she loses her sight early on her navigation of the world around her is done through her other senses. Doerr writes this so fantastically that you don’t even notice the lack of sight. Werner’s POV is a lot more naïve, he believes a lot of the traditional values that he was taught and seeing the world through this lens is incredibly interesting.
The core of the plot is one we all know, but the intricacies are done incredibly well. I was so invested in the personal lives of Marie-Laure and Werner and those they’re close to. I wanted to know how their lives were impacted by the war and this was done in a more unique manner than I’ve read before. I don’t want to ruin anything, so no spoilers here! But I do think this was done beautifully.
This book is also incredibly readable. The writing is engaging, with descriptive sentences packed into very short sections. Two pages is the average length for each section, and so you feel like you’re absolutely flying through the book despite its 500+ page length. I didn’t want to put this book down.
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 9 giving an average of 9.14 and a 5* rating!
Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, war, genocide, rape, antisemitism, bullying, child death, gun violence, sexual violence and assault, torture, racism, religious bigotry, death of parent, murder, ableism, xenophobia, grief, body horror, cancer, child abuse, confinement, gore, mental illness, physical and emotional abuse, terminal illness, psychosis.
If you couldn’t tell? I adored this book! It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and I am so mad I left this on my shelves for SIX YEARS!! But now it lives on my 5 star shelf of fame 😍 Thanks MiddleEarthAThon and MaryShelleyAThon!
Have you read this book, or anything else by Anthony Doerr? I definitely want to grab Cloud Cuckoo Land now!