All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

                If you like historical fiction novels set around World War II that include a subtle but intriguing fantasy element, then more than likely you’ll enjoy this novel. If you enjoy well done transitions and point of views that add to the story but never become overwhelming then you’ll more than likely enjoy this novel. If you enjoy vivid detail and depth in your historical fiction then you will enjoy this novel. I can appreciate all these things and I was sucked into this novel from the very beginning.
                When Marie-Laure was six, before she went blind, she was told the story of the Sea of Flames at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. The Sea of Flames is a blue diamond with dancing flames in the center with a weight of 133 carats, whose possessor can never die. Marie-Laure’s father doesn’t believe the diamond has any bearing whatsoever on life. When she goes blind he builds an exact replica of the town for her to memorize, teaches her braille and continues to challenge her mind with puzzles. They flee Paris in 1940 and head to Saint-Malo, to leave with his Uncle Etienne. Here he builds another exact replica of the town, with a gift hidden that may save her life. Meanwhile, young Werner and his sister Jutta, live as orphans in the mining town where their father died. Werner’s prowess with technology and trigonometry gets him recruited into the National Political Institute of Education at Schulpforta. Eventually he is placed in the middle of the war, hunting those illegally sending radio transmissions. Two different stories that intertwine with that of a man searching for a cure, in the shape of a blue diamond.
                When I first heard of this novel I was fascinated but not intrigued enough to pursue it. My TBR pile is long enough, this one could wait. But a friend of mine insisted I read it, to the point of giving me her copy and I figured why not. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner. I had seen some really great reviews from people whose opinion I really valued so I opened it up and got immediately sucked in. Doerr’s writing style is amazingly vivid and detailed. From the very first page, he had my attention. I love when a writer can drop you right in the middle of situation and instead of confusing you, he intrigues you. Done. I was so caught up in the mystery of the story that I didn’t want to put it down.
                The novel alternates not only between the main characters in third person, but Doerr switched back and forth in time as well. Each part of the chapter is only a few pages, so you aren’t overwhelmed with the changes in one character’s life, before moving on. By doing this Doerr created a certain rhythm in his storytelling that really moved the plot along well. The lapses in time only added to the suspense. The book starts in 1944, and then backtracks, then comes back to 1944. Again this never got confusing to me. I rather enjoyed it. I was being fed little tidbits at a time that all lead to a pretty satisfying result. Even with this method of writing, all of the characters were very well developed and full of depth. The world was built beautifully and destroyed just as beautifully. Overall this was a well done novel.

                I did have one small problem, which is why this is getting 4.5 out of 5 stars. The ending of the novel wasn’t my favorite. The result of the three different storylines merging was great but then Doerr just kept going and luckily there wasn’t many pages left because that’s when my interest started to wane. I still highly recommend this book. Doerr’s way with words and how he weaved this story makes this novel worth it. 


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