All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr ― Book Review
All the light we cannot see is among many of the acclaimed works of Anthony Doerr. The New York Times Bestseller starts brilliantly as the writer acquaints us with a blind Marie Laure who traces the miniature of Paris her father built as it is bombed by the Nazis and it is by far the best part of the book.
This novel is made to read in one sitting but alas I took forever to finish it. I was excited about reading it because the name is just so promising and sure enough, the story was as gripping and heartfelt as I expected. Anthony Doerr is not a new name and his storytelling talent is evident from the very beginning. You cannot put this book down after a certain point.
“What the war did to dreamers.”
― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
We learn that Marie Laure lives near a museum where her father works. We come to know of a jewel called the Sea of Flame that has a dangerous mythological impact. I was quite excited to find such a haunting element in the story early on. It reminded me a bit of the cursed rabbit foot from Supernatural and for a while, I thought it was the same jewel as that from Titanic.
Another prominent character in the story is Werner Pfenning who lives with his sister in a German mining town. Werner is small but resourceful and has a knack for fixing things. There’s something beautify about the way the writer compares Werner, the white-haired boy’s presence to a “being in a room with a feather”. That line right there creates a whole person in your head and it is beyond amazing. This book taught me something about building a character like nothing I’ve ever read has.
Werner is quickly sent to a national school that provides boys with engineering skills for serving in the Third Reich. The chapters about Werner’s schooling are intriguing and put Germans under a unique literary lens.
These two characters cross paths. (obviously)
Another amazing character in the book is Marie Laure’s father who pushes his daughter to walk home by counting steps and blocks. He encourages his daughter to read and is an ingenious creator if puzzles and miniatures.
When Marie Laure and her father escape Paris in 1940, several ‘Sea of flames’ is entrusted to people because of how precious it is. Only the real one ends up with them in Saint-Malo on the coast of Brittany. Werner around that time is using radio transmissions to track the jewel across Russia and Central Europe.
Doerr mixes myth and mechanics in a way that you don’t even realize how strange that is. He depicts a coexistence of brutality and kindness without ever pining it with adjectives. His sentences are concise but they echo. The only drawback is the irregular timeline which although popular in the genre doesn’t add to the book’s merits. It almost makes the books feel stretched out when it doesn’t have to be.
The story is still a beautiful one and there is so much detail and depth in the characters that it’s worth reading anyway.
This book a 4 of out 5.