All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

A Novel

Book - 2014
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Comments (259)


RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

Marvel at the details, admire the beauty, and feel both bereft and euphoric with emotion. Anthony Doerr’s epic World War II novel is a spellbinding experience that confirms belief in the goodness of the human spirit. The story charts the paths of two extraordinary young characters: Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind fourteen-year old French girl, and Werner Pfennig, a sixteen-year old German boy conscripted into a Nazi Youth group. How their fates merge is enough to keep you riveted, but the novel is so much more. Doerr incorporates an astonishing range of knowledge into the narrative. He is an expert on topics as diverse as gems, seashells, ocean currents, cloud formations, and radio transmissions, to highlight merely a few. Equally impressive is the lushness of the prose he employs in every sentence. He elevates language to the highest level of poetics and lyricism. Remarkable in scope and gorgeous in construction, All the Light We Cannot See is a masterful literary achievement.

m
Manuel
Jun 26, 2018

This is a very large, sensitive historical fiction novel, with lots of character development. It takes place in France and Germany and the time length is from before WW II to 2014. Doer could have written a shorter story, as many of the descriptions are too lengthy. It shifts among several viewpoints and occasionally in time. I appreciated the short chapters.

l
louisahe87
Jun 08, 2018

Anthony Doerr wrote with an eye for detail that heightened your imagination as you journeyed with each character. I found it slow to start but the last 100 pages captured my mind and heart wholly. There were moments in this book that were so emotionally charged that I remember them as if I saw them. I thought it was really interesting to actually see myself in each characters shoes no matter the side they fell on. It did make me question, does it romanticize tragedy or does it help us to remember well?

a
altybiz
Jun 06, 2018

This is a great book to have younger generations read when they don''t show any understanding of what war and hardship are really like. Doerr does a great job of giving many examples, and does so without making the story gorier than necessary to convey his points. Thought he did a great job of creating characters I could care about. And although there was a lot of suffering, I didn't want to story to end just because it was a fabulous read. Lots of tension especially near the end. I'd like to read this one again some day. The ending felt very real.

j
jeanmdavis
Jun 03, 2018

Really grim World War II story

k
kathybibus
May 03, 2018

It was mesmerizing, intriguing, thoughtful, harsh, and beautiful all at the same time.
It kept me interested from beginning to end.

w
Weliketoread
Apr 26, 2018

Great read. Enjoyed it.

h
heathermay78
Apr 25, 2018

i wish you could rate a book 1,000,000,000 stars, because i would totally do that with this book. AMAZING NOVEL <3

aforrest_0 Apr 25, 2018

My mom and I have both liked this book! I am halfway through and am looking forward to seeing how it ends. I wonder if Werner and Marie-Laure wilI meet in the end and what that will be like. I like any kind of historical fiction. Four stars!

e
essanator
Apr 17, 2018

Absolutely wonderful read! It may have started off slow, but compared to what? All the preteen/young adult novels out there? I loved all the details, and how the point of view changes with each short chapter. The descriptions are not overly detailed but gives you enough to let your imagination run. This book brought lots of emotion without forcing it. I would definitely reccomend this to someone who appreciates light fiction, and of course, WWII.

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firefly5
Apr 03, 2018

I felt this book had a slow start but it picked up as I continued to read. There were times in the early part of the book that I wondered why I was reading this and was ready to return the book. As I got more into the story I could not put it down and read far into the night. Interesting contrast between a blind French girl and a young German boy during WW2. The conclusion fills in some of the gaps and I thought it worked very well.

c
claire1953
Apr 02, 2018

Read through this book rather quickly and the series of very short chapters made it easy to stop and return to the following chapter later. On the other hand, the constant back and forth between years made some of the story hard to follow at times. The story, which follows the story of Marie Laure, a blind French girl and Werner, a young German orphan who is recruited for his electronic abilities, contrasts well the horrors of war with the kindness which can still occur (and does). Anthony Doerr does a good job, in the last few chapters, of reuniting some of the characters to bring closure to the five-year period of World War II. I’m not sure why this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner but it was interesting with an intriguing story line.

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wmtlady
Mar 25, 2018

Reviewer J.R. Moehringr said "Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet."
I think this presents the amazing and captivating quality of this book, and why it continues to be much in demand. Please don't think you should be of a scientific mind to enjoy this; the book is full of fascinating details of gems, birds, aquatic creatures, insects, and on and on.

o
orange_lobster_23
Mar 16, 2018

Absolutely one of my favorite recent reads--because of the evocative description of Saint-Malo
and the interwoven characterizations of Warner and Marie-Laurie. Beautifully touching.

e
ErikaCh
Jan 24, 2018

I can understand why this book got very highly spoken about. But this book will not be my first pick among all the WW2 history novel.
For sure, it is superbly well written. To me, some paragraphs or even chapters are just redundant. The story itself lack a tempo/twist to it. Only the last 100 pages showed some tense. Also, some of the words maybe just too difficult for me to grab the beauty since English is not my native language.
I wasn't able to finish the book before it's due. So I turned to audio book. It is my first trying audio "reading". It enabled me to finish the book.

m
MaggieBrooklyn
Jan 23, 2018

I don't have a lot of time to read these days, so when I do read a book, it's got to be good. Literary or historical fiction is my favorite, and I usually pick something that has been well-recommended and has great reviews. Well, this book did not disappoint.

I read this a few years ago, and I think it's been one of my favorite books in recent years. Totally deserved the Pulitzer Prize. This is a fascinating story about these two characters, how they survived through really tough times. The story was very sad but also poignant and uplifting. Very well written. So engaging it was hard to put down. You want to read through to see what happens to the characters, but you also want to savor every page.

k
Kathi92
Jan 12, 2018

I am half way through the book and I am hooked. Short chapters (2-4pages) and the story about different sides and different perspectives during WW2 is amazingly to read and experience. The people are intriguing and you want to know what happens next. I didn't mind the jumps in time back and fourth which I usually dislike in books because you can lose track but it was easy to follow and had a good structure. The writing style is very detailed, maybe because Marie-Laure is blind and therefore a lot of things are described how she would perceive it.

All in all, I cannot put the book down and need to finish it. Maybe it is because I am German and even more intrigued by the history of Europe and what happened from people's perspective rather than history books.

I recommend this book to everyone because I would have not thought that I would be interested but I am very much.

h
hikerbean
Jan 11, 2018

One of my favorite books of all time. I've never suggested this book to anyone who didn't call and thank me for it. The writing is phenomenal, character development is fantastic, and the plot is exceptional. I honestly don't have enough superlatives to describe this work. I saw him speak at Seattle University during the Search for Meaning Book Festival. I bawled through his entire speech. He's an amazing human being and his unmatched curiosity makes for a superb intellect and skillful mastery of the writing craft!

Librarian_Deb Dec 03, 2017

Phenomenal. It's an interweaving story, one thread follows a young girl -blind and living in Paris with her father who works for the Museum of Natural History. This girl, Marie-Laure has learned to navigate the city through the intricate models her father builds. Unfortunately, they are living during World War II and when the Nazi occupation begins Marie's and her father have to flee Paris. They travel to Saint-Marlo, an walled city right next to the sea where Marie learns to navigate a new set of streets and to get along with her eccentric Great Uncle.
The other thread of the story follows Werner, an orphan boy growing up in Germany. He begins to develop an intense interest in radios - an interest that leads him to discovering extraordinary broadcasts that come from France, and an ability for repairing radios that is notices by the local authorities. They decide to send him to a special school where he can develop his skills - and be groomed to enter the German military machine.
Eventually the stories of these two young people comes together in a remarkable way. But I cannot by merely relating what happens in the book convey haw beautifully the story is told, how much the characters came alive in my mind, and how my heart was touched by their ups and downs. I would highly suggest if you like reading at all to read this remarkable book and find out for yourself what a treasure it is.

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finn75
Dec 03, 2017

A gripping read on the experience of individuals on both sides caught up in World War II. Deserves the accolades it got.

s
smiliesar
Nov 20, 2017

Such a great book that captures the thoughts of multiple sides during World War 2

r
rubyal32
Oct 30, 2017

Fantastic read. One of the best historical fiction novels I've read. I found it to be a book that was hard to put down, and fell in love with both main characters. A book I will recommend to all avid readers.

h
hollybell
Oct 17, 2017

I don't know how this book won a Pulitzer Prize. I thought it was WAY too long and ponderous and the back and forth between story lines and time frames did not contribute to the story. By the final third I was itching for the book to end and put me and the characters out of their misery. And it doesn't really end, it just kind of dribbles away. It also suffers from the
Forest Gump effect of creating a character with a physical disability who is extraordinary in all other ways -- extra smart, extra caring, extra brave. Disappointing.

b
bell_ugh
Oct 15, 2017

Amazing synopsis, intriguing cover, anticlimactic and slow story. I had to force myself to read this book after the first 200 pages (out of 531!). It took me 2 months to finish and my favorite character was killed off. Isn't that great?

The rising action/main story was very very VERY slow and was anticlimactic (pretty much 80% of the book). There were a lot of unnecessary chapters and segments that were repetitive of the last. I will admit that All the Light We Cannot See had good falling action (10% of the book) since it was super emotional. It was also the point where the story ties a clean knot between the character development and plot. I felt like the book would be better if the end of the book was the falling action instead of the character epilogue (the last 10%). All the Light We Cannot See is more of a character study, like Six of Crows, if you have read that.

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vpazreads
Oct 05, 2017

Beautiful writing and compelling story. The very end, which updated the story in vignettes from 1974 and 2014, felt jarring compared to the lyrical prose of the WWII section.


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