Book Review – All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Book: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Year of Release: 2014
Read 530-page paperback edition in September 2016.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel centres on two protagonists in different places of Europe who come together through radio technology. Marie-Laure grows up in Paris, a curious 12 year-old who is close to her widowed father. Marie-Laure is absorbed in the braille books her father buys for her when he can, but when the pressures of Nazi Germany push towards Paris, they evacuate to the coast of France, and to a small village to live with her reclusive uncle, who has powerful radios in his attic. Meanwhile, young Werner is a German orphan who is a talent for technology and science, and is recruited into an academy and military service in order to use his knowledge for the Nazi regime. However, he begins to feel more uncomfortable with his place in the world, as he sees how people act and are treated around him.
This powerful novel is the story of two young people whose lives intersect during the backdrop of WWII.
Although there are many WWII novels in existence, author Anthony Doerr has done a great job of creating something new, and also writing in a way that is fast-paced, where the reader is excited to turn every page and find out what happens next. The plot device of radio communication was a great way to explore some important settings, themes, and subject matter in fresh and new ways.
The main characters of Werner and Marie-Laure were well explored by Doerr, and his ability to probe into their minds, give us a sense of their thoughts, feelings, and fears, created a believable and harsh tale for what it was like to be a teenager in WWII, on both sides.
Doerr does an interesting job of weaving the stories ever closer together, while at the same time finding the right balance of related storylines for minor characters that are connected to Marie-Laure or Werner in some way. Everyone who appears in the novel is interesting, very well thought out by Doerr, and delivers a message of some kind.
The overall novel is a fantastic exploration of the impact of war on these teenagers, and explores themes of loss, fear, and grief. This is an emotional and powerful novel, and is written beautifully. Well done!
Overall: 5 stars out of 5 stars