I loooooove buddy reads! So much so, that I’m pretty much going to do this kind of review monthly now. And this buddy read was with my friend Trang @ Bookidote, and while I really enjoy chatting with her, we weren’t so lucky with the book, it seems. Trang mostly enjoyed it (…given time…), but it didn’t go down that well for me! That said, it is a well-known book, so let’s dive straight into the review.
In short, it’s about WWII, nazis, a blind girl and an orphan boy. And a mysterious cursed jewel that gets lost. But don’t get your hopes up. You have to turn on a flashlight to search for the plot.
This book involved:
- oh no I don’t wanna’s
- Why are you still reading this review? 😀
Onto the questions!
I think its fair to say that we both had a hard time getting into the book LOL What elements of the book kept you on edge enough to continue?
Err… Tough question. I would say, it was mostly due to my insane willpower. My steel-strong abs of mental fortitude. My… YES.
In other words, I read up to 50% and was still not interested. At all. It would not be a lie if I said I only stuck to this book because it was a buddy read! But that’s alright. Backlist books!
That said, there was a place where I became.. err,
mildly moderately interested. The book details events at a nazi military school for boys. You would have to be a stone statue, not to react to those in some way. Also, it was interesting seeing how that society was built from the ground up. Other than that… I had no attachment to not even a single character, and I really didn’t care about what was going on. #sorrynotsorry
All The Light We Cannot See has to be one of the most beautiful and original titles ever, what do you think is the meaning behind this title?
The story does hint a lot about what we do see about life, and what we fail to see. So I think it is grounded in both the literal, and the figurative. One of the main characters, Marie-Laure, is blind – so that’s the literal aspect of it. We learn about how she deals with events in her life require simple human will, and the events that require super-human morality. Then, there’s also the figurative aspect of losing hope, and not knowing what the world is all about, what the final goal is – that’s Werner’s half of the story. It is all tied together by a quote from a children’s radio programme that talks about how most of the light that exists, falls out of the visible spectrum, hinting at the fact that we can barely see a little fraction of the way the world truly is.
Are you satisfied with the dual POVs and character’s development in this book?
Yeah, I actually didn’t mind the dual POV’s at all (what I minded were the characters themselves…) The growth was done well too. But I still have a few nits to pick, when it comes to the characters – as I’ve mentioned before, I could relate to NONE of them. They were all so alienated, so… far away. So hard to empathise with, even if there were reasons to! I couldn’t get invested in the book, because they just felt too far away from me.
What is the one advice/warning you would offer to the future readers of this book?
If you don’t care to read 260 pages BEFORE you get interested in the book? Then just don’t read it. Because that’s precisely how much it took me, and from what I heard – pretty much the same for Trang too.
Also, the blurb says, “A stunningly ambitious and beautiful 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.” Really? Paths collide, that’s what this book’s about? Because you know when they collide?
I HONESTLY HAD SO MANY FEEELS when I finished this book. How was your reading experience? Is there any moment that moves you in the book?
Trang, I think you had the feels for both of us! 😀
There were places that moved me, but a lot of them moved me negatively (shocked me or made me feel anxiety.) However, there was one point which I really liked! I wouldn’t say it moved me… But I really enjoyed it. The events of the book happen partly in the time of the German occupation of France and most of you will have heard of the resistance movement in those days. Well, the women in Saint-Malo apparently formed one of those societies! And they started it out by doing small, but very annoying things. Like placing a turd right on the spot of the brothel entrance where a German foot was to stand. Or add salt to their sugar. Curdle their milk. Things that amount to nothing, can be blamed on no one, and yet make one’s life so much more frustrating. I whole-heartedly laughed at this part!
I am quite picky on my historical fiction but I think this one made the list. Do you consider All The Light We Cannot See deserves to be in the top list of the genre? If yes, what aspect of the book makes it stand out?
I will admit that this might have not been the best book for me to read, cause several years back, I read one too many books on WWII, and since then? They just started boring me to no end, or just flat out terrifying me. It might be that this particular time is something I don’t care to read about anymore! I’m also not big on historical novels. But from what I’ve read, it’s probably accurate. Just damn well close to unreadable!
For people who already read and loved this book, what similar book would you recommend to them?
Oh, I can definitely find some! These are the ones that felt similar, although I was also inevitably bored of them! Although if you liked All The Light We Cannot See, you might like these too, and it’s just a matter of tastes!
However, I have always loved Remarque. So these ones I recommend from the bottom of my heart. While I didn’t enjoy All The Light We Cannot See, there are some WWI / WWII books I have enjoyed!
Be sure to head on to Trang’s post to read her take on this book!
Do you read historical fiction about the World Wars? What particularly captivates you in this sub-genre?