Buddy read, Fiction, Literary, Well known books

All The Light… I Could Not See In This One Buddy Read And Good Riddance!

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:

  • yawns
  • eye-rolls
  • 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? Pretty much in the last 30 pages 😀

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!

Birdsong Life After Life The Night Watch

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!

The Road Back Flotsam The Black Obelisk

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?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

38 thoughts on “All The Light… I Could Not See In This One Buddy Read And Good Riddance!

  1. HAHA! I LOVE your title! This book was a total miss for me as well. My book club picked it as the book for December, and I didn’t bother even trying to re-read it for the club discussion.

  2. It’s great that you pulled out an entertaining post out of such an unentertaining read. Plus bonus points for using a LeBron GIF – I love working basketball references into my book blogs

    BTW, for purely selfish reasons, I hope you feel differently about WWII books in the near future!
    Darius Jung recently posted…The 19th Century Hollow Earth CrazeMy Profile

    1. Hahah, well, you might have already noticed that I tend to pull out entertaining posts out of bad books 😀 in fact, the worse the book, the funnier I’ll write the review xD heh. But either way, thank you!

      Yeah, trust me, I do hope I start feeling differently about WWII soon as well! I think I read too many books at one point, and then kept pushing, and now every single book feels the same. Maybe in a few years I’ll have missed it 🙂

  3. I’m glad I read this review because I’ve been wondering if I should pick it up I also had a period where I read a bit too much WW2 stuff so this probably isn’t for me either!

    1. Oh yeah, if you’ve had a little bit too much of a topic then you better give it a rest 🙂 I just kept on pushing, and I think I am going to be bored of this topic forever now 😀

  4. Even though I’m sad you didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did, I have to say I love your buddy reads format! The idea of reading a book with someone is cool, but I like the idea of writing the review based off of questions from the other person.
    Anna Pittman recently posted…Dear Sunday: Christmas BreakMy Profile

    1. Thanks Anna 🙂 I’m glad you like it! I will be posting more of these reviews, maybe one each month 🙂 currently I have buddies to read with till maybe February or March, but we could do a buddy read with you sometime after that, if you want, and review it like this too 🙂

  5. What a great review for a book you didn’t like very much! I’m a fan of reading World War II-era books. It’s surprising that this one was so dull and full of plot. The whole point of setting a book during this time is that it was rife with emotion and drama. I haven’t read this one yet (and I’m not sure if I will), but I appreciate your review!
    Alyssa recently posted…Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. KingMy Profile

    1. Hahah, thank you 🙂 I was afraid the review would come out too scathing 😀 I don’t know, others seemed to like this book – with me, it might just be that I didn’t enjoy the writing much, and didn’t connect with the characters, and that’s… Pretty much certain doom 😀 hahah.

      If you like WWII books, you should definitely DEFINITELY read the Remarque ones I listed at the bottom! Remarque writes beautifully about the war. Amazingly!

    1. Hahaha thanks Laura 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I was worried about it being a little bit on the sharp side, but I suppose there were so many gushing reviews that it’s alright to have one bitter one xD

  6. AHAHAH DAMNN!! It’s so funny how we got TOTAL opposite point of view while reading this book ! I love your description of the title and the meaning behind it <3 I hold dear to that title choice haaha from all the themes the book has explored. At least I HOPE I brought some enjoyment with our interaction HAHA We would def enjoy more Arm Of The Sphynx next time 😉 The last question is mostly for me , SO THANK YOU FOR THE SUGGESTIONS MUHAHA 😀 Going to check out those books !

    1. I think it’s pretty good, actually, that our reviews are like day and night 😀 we can give the readers two perspectives!
      Oh, I’m definitely glad we read this with you <3 it has been lying around on my Kindle for YEAAAARS and I was like "why did you even get this, Evelina, if you're not gonna read it?" xD so now I don't have to say that to myself anymore 😀
      Oh, I'm sure the next buddy read will be loaaaaads more fun 🙂

  7. Hi Avalinah! Thanks for posting this review! I have a quick question– what do you use to blur spoilers? I’ve never seen that before and I love it and want it, because I have a bad habit of writing spoilers all over my reviews and using big bold stars to try and divert readers, but it would be so much better if I could just blur them out.

    Thanks 😀

    1. Well, thanks for reading 🙂 I use this really cool plugin! Let me check the name for you… “Spoiler alert JS” by Luc Delaborde. It’s really simple, you just use tags in your post, kind of like on Goodreads. It’s brilliant, isn’t it 🙂

  8. Loved your title 😀 Well, I am sorry that you didn’t like this book although it was too hyped recently. I haven’t read it yet but have seen some great reviews about it. But, now your review confused me 😛
    I haven’t read much historical fiction but whatever I have read I have pretty enjoyed it. It may be because of the fact that I love to know much about that world war era since I only read about that in our school books and that was the limited information.
    I hope you enjoy your next buddy read 😀

    1. Yeah, it was hyped! Bestseller, and all. I think the writing style really didn’t work for me – that was the main problem. And it’s so long too. Imagine reading a 500 page book when you don’t enjoy the writing style 😀
      Well, if other people like it, then you might too 😀 maybe I am the exception here, haha! Sometimes it’s good to be the black sheep 😉
      I can’t handle anymore WWII books – probably because they’re just so sad! They kind of really bring me down.
      I am SURE I will enjoy my next buddy read, haha 😀 (can’t wait!!)

  9. Sorry this didn’t do it for you, Evelina! I don’t think I’d have been able to continue reading. I have so many books, so I just don’t feel like spending my time with characters who don’t touch me in any way.
    I read a good historical WWII story last year, I think. It’s called The Lilac Girls, and that one was good! You know, if you want to try another book set in the same era.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Audio Review: The Baller – Vi KeelandMy Profile

    1. Haha, I know right! I pretty much just kept reading BECAUSE it was a buddy read 😀 I almost never DNF, but this one really didn’t work for me… But now I’m glad I’ve read it, cause I’ve had it on my Kindle for ages. Good riddance 🙂
      Thanks! I haven’t heard of The Lilac Girls yet 🙂

  10. I’ve only book I can think of that I’ve read in that sort of genre is The Book Thief and I absolutely LOVED it! That has to be one of my favourite books of all time. In general though, war related historical fiction isn’t really something that I would go for.. I don’t know why! It’s a shame this one didn’t work out for you but at least it was fun to read the review!
    Lara @ Words With Lara recently posted…Genuine Fraud, by E. Lockhart || Lies and Murder and Truly Awful PeopleMy Profile

    1. Ah, I know, I’ve also read that one 🙂 but I was already in my ‘meh’ phase so I didn’t like it too much, which is a shame 🙂 it was alright, though! But yes, war fiction just kind of makes me really depressed, so it’s hard to have a positive experience, while reading it.

  11. Oh no! Sorry you didn’t enjoy the book, I hope your next read is better. ❤ I have been meaning to get this book and seen very mixed reviews on it. I may give it a try next year.

    1. Thanks 🙂 yeah, I think with this book, it comes down to whether you like the writing or not, because it’s 500 pages long.. So if you don’t like the writing, then it’s not going to be a good experience 😀

  12. I am so sorry you didn’t end up enjoying this one at all! I know my mum has read this one and she actually quite liked it so I am sorry you couldn’t enjoy it at all 🙁 I am actually curious to try this one. I usually don’t mind there not being too much of a plot because I’m such a character driven reader, but then it was also hard for you to connect to the characters too…
    Olivia Roach recently posted…The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily [Book Review & Giveaway!]My Profile

    1. I’m also curious what you’d think of it 🙂 I think with me, it was mostly the writing style. If you can’t enjoy the writing style, then you’re basically torturing yourself through 500 pages! So it’s understandable I didn’t connect with it 😀
      I also don’t mind the lack of plot, usually, but… I also didn’t like the characters 😀 so that’s a problem. But maybe you will 🙂

  13. Great review! Though I really liked the writing for this one (so ended up giving it a higher rating than I probably should have in retrospect) I had a lot of problems with it and *totally* get where you’re coming from! Because I couldn’t connect with the characters *at all*. And it took way too long for it to get to the part where their paths converged (and then trailed off in my opinion) Anyway, it was really interesting to read your thoughts on this one.
    The Orangutan Librarian recently posted…Revisiting the Phantom TollboothMy Profile

    1. Lucky you, I bet I would have loved the book too, had I enjoyed the writing 🙂 I think that was the biggest problem for me, because ultimately, when a book is 500 pages long and you don’t enjoy the writing, you’ve got a problem, ahaha 😀

      Thanks! 🙂 BTW, happy holidays 🙂

  14. OHMYGOSH! I am so sorry! This is one of my all-time favorite novels! Now, I typically struggle reading Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. For sure. So, I tackled this in the form of an audiobook. And I completely fell in love. Listening to this beautiful prose read to me really shook me to the core. I love the characters. Personally, I enjoyed Marie-Laure more than the rest, but I connected to them all on some level. These poor children stuck in this cruel world just trying to survive and find some level of joy? Oh, it plucked my heartstrings so much!

    I, as of late, have tended to avoid World War-focused fiction. I read a lot of it growing up. I’m just feeling burned out on it! World War I or II, it doesn’t matter. However, I will pick up a great WW novel at the recommendation of my friends. I’ve never read anything by Remarque. Where would you recommend I start?

    What are your favorite historical fiction novels? What do you look for in these novels? Perhaps I can help you find something you’d enjoy to get the taste of this book out of your mouth? 😉
    Jackie B. recently posted…#AnneReadAlong2017 : Rainbow ValleyMy Profile

    1. Really? How could you like this xD it was so incredibly boring for me 😀 I can’t shake the feeling that I missed something very basic about this book that prevented me liking this, cause quite a few people love it, and I’m just like.. I DON’T GET IT. 😀

      Hmmmm, maybe if I’d listened to an audiobook, it could have worked. I wonder! But still… I just hated the prose and didn’t connect with the characters.. That’s usually a nail in the coffin for any book.

      As for Remarque… Flotsam is a wonderful one. Or The Black Obelisk. But maybe Flotsam for starters 🙂

      I actually read historical very rarely! Although I’m realizing, maybe I should read more 🙂 but from the ones I’ve read, I’ve noticed I enjoy reading about the older ages more than the recent ones. I’ve had enough of our culture, I guess, I need to go as far back from it as possible :DDD (or as far ahead of it… lol)

  15. I wonder if I loved the prose because it was read aloud to me? I was completely immersed in this world and I love Marie Laure. Reading from the perspective of a blind character– this was a new experience for me and I completely fell in love with it. What do you think you would have needed to enjoy this novel? How should the characters be different in order for you to appreciate it?

    I’ve requested Flotsam from the library. Thank you for the recommendation! I love historical fiction, but bad historical fiction can really put me off for a while. It can be a challenge for me to find winners often. I don’t like historical fiction with heavy bias or which feel academic. There are some great books out there. Do you like epistolary novels? I really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s a beautiful book. WWII, also, shocking. 😉
    Jackie B. recently posted…Building Better Book Clubs: An Insider GlanceMy Profile

    1. Oh cool! I am very curious about how you’ll like it. It’s a very touching book. I hope you like it! And yeah, I do enjoy epistolary novels 🙂 I didn’t like The Potato Peel Society much though, it was very…insubstantial and lighthearted. It felt like a book about nothing. Maybe I just don’t like WWII books xD as for All The Light, I don’t know, maybe the characters? And the writing style. Bored me to death xD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge