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Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Everyone loves this book. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It was a finalist for the National Book Award. I should have loved it, right? Except that I didn't. The last hundred pages nearly redeemed it though.

Marie-Laure is a young girl, blind, living in Paris with her father, the locksmith for the natural history museum. Werner is a young boy, an orphan, living in Germany at an orphanage with with sister Jutta, obsessively working on radios. In 1944 their paths will cross. But you'll have to get through 500 pages to get there. Granted, they are pages of mostly dialogue and super-short chapters, so despite the length it does read fast. But it should have been a third shorter than it was. I didn't like the occasional chapters from the point of view of characters other than Maire-Laure and Werner (I think if you've set up certain POVs, you need to stick to them.) And I didn't feel that either Marie-Laure or Werner's characters were well-developed. I felt I didn't really know who either of them were. The secondary characters, such as Madame Manoc and Uncle Etienne and Jutta were much more concrete and defined, in my opinion.

Yes, yes, I know, the writing was beautiful. But for me, pretty writing does not make up for a lack of character development and a very slow plot. If I liked to read things just for beautiful language without regard to those other facets, I'd read poetry (which I don't.) The plot picked up significantly towards the end, and the characters started to jell. But it was a little late in my book.

My mother gave me her copy when she finished it.

1 comment:

Kay said...

I'm probably one of the only ones who has not read this book. And I'm not sure I will. I kind of suspect that I might not like it. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. Perhaps I'll try it at some point.