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?

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3 years ago

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.

Darius Jung
3 years ago

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!

3 years ago

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!

Anna Pittman
3 years ago

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.

3 years ago

Oo that would be a lot of fun! 🙂

3 years ago

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!

Laura Thomas
3 years ago

You know, whenever I come across this book I’ll think of your review and laugh. Such a clever one! And 260 pages in. I’m thinking I’ll take your word for it and pass on this one. Oops, better make sure I don’t already have it.

Trang Tran
3 years ago

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 !

3 years ago

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 😀

3 years ago

Thank you so much!! I can’t wait to try it out and really appreciate you letting me know 🙂

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages

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 😀

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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.

3 years ago

I read like two pages of this and could not get into it, which felt like a shame because so many people are like ooo you got to read this and I was like, my brain hurts, I’m bored. Now I don’t feel as bad about it

Lara @ Words With Lara

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!

3 years ago

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.

Olivia Roach
3 years ago

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…

The Orangutan Librarian

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.

Jackie B.
3 years ago

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,… Read more »

Jackie B.
3 years ago

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… Read more »