Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you wish to read a spoiler-protected version of this, view this review on Goodreads.
All The Light We Cannot See is the perfect pairing of a realistic fictional story and an imagery ridden writing.
I won’t lie: this book bored me for the most part, but it bored me with beautiful prose that I just couldn’t skip over. This is one of those books that isn’t plot-driven, instead it’s the writing and purposefully dragged descriptions that drive it, but leads it to a certainly better place. I’m not one of the literary lovers; I need an interesting story line to get through a book. This one did intrigue me, though. Exceptions are what I’m living for, right? Right.
The focal point of the story is a particular contrast between the two main characters–Werner and Marie-Laure. Both are German and French, respectively, and their narratives are placed alternately, for the most part. Now, I won’t elaborate on the plot since that’s not what I fell in love with, or for what I gave four stars to this book. In fact, I’d been so tired waiting for that expected convergence of both the character’s lives that I’d been completely neutral when they did meet for that split second in the end. Having said that, the overall idea of a WWII set up and accounting both a Nazi and a French character’s feelings or actions through that scenario, is commendable and definitely worth reading.
Moving on to the writing, I think it made all the difference. This book would’ve been DNF-ed if it wasn’t for the elaborate details of each and every thing. For Marie-Laure, who can’t see, the senses were the only way for the author to convey her thoughts, and he did it beautifully. When it came to Werner, he was portrayed as the perfectly imperfect child who is left with no other option, in the middle of a World War, but to enter a training program and live for his country. There is so much more that I can keep on praising but I guess, the book has already been appreciated all that it deserves and I’m merely sharing my happiness after reading this.
One aspect of the story that I will voice out because I haven’t seen that being highlighted much, and the one I felt most touched by, is the father-daughter relationship. It was heart breaking and heart warming, both at the same time. Right from the start when the museum–where Marie-Laure’s father is a locksmith–was attacked upon by the Nazis and he knew that things were going to be rough, especially for his blind daughter (because she was blind and because she was a girl) but still maintained his calm and remained the stronger figure that Marie-Laure looked up to and knew would protect her forever. He kept reminding his child how strong she is and how her blindness is not her down-point; he makes miniature puzzles and road maps to make his daughter capable of finding her way on her own. Then, unfortunately, he never returns (much obviously because he’s dead) and as a reader it shook me to read about the little blind girl who found herself lost without her beloved Papa.
Despite the wonderful writing and short crisp chapters, I felt the Stone and it’s story of death or it’s need to return to the sea didn’t intrigue me at all; in turn, it made the entire concept too cringe-y and absolutely unneeded, for me.
Anyway, I would certainly recommend this to everyone looking for a story that doesn’t keep you interested but a writing that does.