Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

“A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.

– Amazon’s blurb of “All the Light We Cannot See”

All the Light We Cannot See by [Doerr, Anthony]

Review from our editor, Mohan, on Amazon

I chanced on a copy of Anthony Doerr’s bestseller with a bit of trepidation: was this yet another novel about WWII? One would think that all, if not most of the stories of the great war have been reviewed and written. But no, this came across as a surprisingly refreshing epic saga.

The focus of the story, set in the five years of the world war (between 1939 and 1944) is on the lives and travails of two main characters – Marie Laure and Werner. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees from Paris to the countryside with her father who is a locksmith for a renowned museum. Werner is a radio-and-gadget-obsessed German orphan picked from his orphanage to attend an elite military school.

The strong characters will leave you reflecting on the story much after you have finished the novel. The fast paced twists and turns in the plot with engaging characters keep readers hooked through the saga.

It is not for nothing that the book received several acclaimed literary awards, including The 2015 Pulitzer Prize and The Carnegie Medal for Fiction, ending as a New York Times Bestseller

About the author: Anthony Doerr has won numerous prizes for his fiction, including the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent novel, All the Light We Cannot See, was named a best book of 2014 by a number of publications, and was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Visit him at http://www.anthonydoerr.com.


You may also be interested in other recent book review (link) | You may also be interested in the Books section of GaramChai

The Top 10 Best Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Novels of All Time

If you’re looking to switch up your reading habits a little, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels are a great choice. Here are the top ten books about the apocalypse.

  1. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut’s thrilling apocalyptic novel fully deserves its place as the first on this list, due to the extreme literary mastery it is written with. Cat’s Cradle is an incisive satirical dystopian narrative in which the moments leading up to the apocalypse build up, painting an intricate picture of human society and its many flaws.

  1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream shows human life in the aftermath of a technologized apocalypse, living amongst garbage and ruins and hunting rebelled androids in order to restore some remnant of peace of Earth.

  1. Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

Canadian author Margaret Atwood has made a name for herself in the dystopian narrative community with her witty and incisive portrayals of the apocalypse. Oryx and Crake is the first book in her MaddAddam trilogy, and it focuses on a biochemical apocalypse, presenting both the events leading up to it, as well as its grim aftermath.

  1. The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

The second book in Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy is equal to its predecessor, which is rare in the case of trilogies. The Year of the Flood presents the aftermath of the same apocalypse from different points of view. Unfortunately, the final book isn’t nearly as good as the first two.

  1. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece bends the conventions of the genre, achieving a unique perspective on the post-apocalyptic novel genre. The Road is the story of a nameless father and son who wander around a world destroyed by an unspecified catastrophe.

  1. Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut’s second book on this list can also fit into the sci-fi genre due to its exploration of space travel and other related concepts. However, Sirens of Titan is par excellence an apocalyptic novel because it presents a dark military space apocalypse in the making.

  1. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

For readers out there that very much prefer their apocalypse to be zombified, Colson Whitehead’s novel is a clear winner.

  1. Tenth of December, by George Saunders

Saunders’ book is perfect for fans of Black Mirror, because the style is very similar.

  1. Children of Men, by P.D. James

This novel-turned-film explores themes such as infertility and exploitation of immigrants, all under the watchful eye of a deranged government. It’s a real page-turner, trust us.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is clearly a winner on this list, seeing as this is her third book here. The Handmaid’s Tale explores a different kind of post-apocalyptic world, one that has been torn apart by political dictatorship. It’s a bold and incisive exploration of gender roles and norms that has been rightfully acclaimed as a feminist masterpiece.