Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See



Title: All The Light We Cannot See

Author: An
thony Doerr

Series? No.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Book Depository


First off, I have to thank the wonderful Jenna for constantly recommending this book at every opportunity. I don’t think I would have picked up this historical on my own – and would have missed out on the gorgeous story that lies within. If you’re wondering whether All The Light We Cannot See is the book for you, I have a handy list to help you find out below!


“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

1. You Appreciate Beautiful Imagery & Lyrical Writing

Anthony Doerr is quite the wordsmith, he turns every sentence in this book into poetry. Yet, the writing remains light and approachable, never veering into purple prose territory. Whether we’re witnessing Marie-Laure experience the natural world in the absence of sight, or glimpsing at Werner’s captivation with the mystery of technology – the writing wraps us in with vivid imageries.

I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins.

As the story follows three different narrators, we saw the writing style employed to illustrate a multitude of landscapes. We see the streets of Paris before it’s touched by the war. We see the stark landscape of countryside Germany. We see the glittering landscape of St-Malo. Then we see how little by little, war strips away the beauty of these places. All the while, the writing remains unchanging and fluid. Yet, distinguishing between the different narrative remains an easy task as we explore the character’s motivations and line of thought.

There are some instances when I thought the beauty of the proses made it difficult to experience the horrors of warfare – but it’s a minor niggle. Overall, I know I’ll be looking to read more of Doerr’s work so I can experience his lovely proses once more!

2. You Love A Story You Can Reread!

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

As book bloggers, it’s hard to find books I can honestly say I will reread again – especially when the TBR pile stacks up and there are SO MANY reviews to write *totally not freaking out about 2016 releases, honest*. AHEM. But! I can say I will return to All The Light You Cannot See at some point, as I think it’s a book that would improve upon rereading. Although Marie-Laure and Werner remains separate for the majority of the story, their storyline are intricately linked through intangible and serendipitous connections. There are parallels, both symbolically and literally, in their personal journey that I would love to re-experience.

The book also moves alone a non-linear trajectory, constantly switching between the protagonists’ childhood and the last leg of the war. While it was never confusing, part of me wants to go back and reread now that I have the timeline straight! Of course, I also want to reread the beautiful writing as discussed above.

3. You Love Elements of Fairy Tales in All Your Fiction

“That something so small could be so beautiful. Worth so much. Only the strongest people can turn away from feelings like that.”

I don’t know about you, but I love seeing the structure of fairy tales incorportated into adult or modern fiction. The current boom in fairy tale retelling satisfies most of my needs, but I love when a story employs these age-old symbolism in a more subtle manner.

From the beginning, we are told of a myth featuring a precious diamond which has doomed kingdoms and princes. Other elements of folk tale appears, including an unrepentant villain, riddles, and more secret keys than you could shake a stick at. They add an almost magical layer to this haunting story. All the while, we are reminded that life does not always resolve with the neat, happy endings of fairy tale.

4.  You Love Characters Who Have Passion

Most of the protagonists in All The Light We Cannot See have something they are passionate about – whether it’s Marie-Laure’s love for nature and books, or Werner’s obsession with radios. I liked the stark contrast they present against usual protagonist, who are swept into a plot and lose their identity in the process. Their hobbies and how their thought processes are influenced by it make them feel more real. It makes the plights they face throughout the novel all the more challenging to read.

I am so happy to end my 2015 with such a fantastic read!  Have you read this book? Are you a fan of WWII fiction?

Also, happy new year everyone!  I hope 2016 hold many exciting adventures for us all – both in the pages and out of them ❤

50 thoughts on “Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See

    1. Thank you so much Jennilyn, I am so flattered you remembered my post on twitter about it 😀 Happy New Year to you too ❤ I hope you'll get to read All The Light sometimes in this year.


    1. I think this is a good book to start with if you’re not too into historical or WWII fiction – the war is not too prominent, it’s character-centric instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Unfortunately I haven’t heard of this book before but this sounds like an intriguing read. Definitely adding it to my tbr. Great review btw! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello? What’s this book that I’ve never heard of? I love the sound of this one even though it’s not something I would pick up just by looking at the cover. The writing seems so lovely! And of course, fairy tale elements and characters with passion. I’ll look more into this one or see if the library has a copy!
    Wonderful review, Aentee! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo I think you would enjoy this! It’s quite slow, but the proses are beautiful and the characters real and the relationships poignant ❤ Thank you, Nick!


  3. You and Jenna have good testimonies on this book. I know I should pick this up soon. I love World War II books especially films (I still weep over Grave of the Fireflies *sobs*). It’s been a while since I had a book which I wanted to reread and I’m excited that this book could make it to that list. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss you need this one in your life. Omg Grave of the Fireflies destroyed me, as did visiting the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima – definitely an infinitely tragic period. I hope you will get a chance to read this soon!


  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE traces of magic in modern or contemporary fiction – not when it’s an elemental part of the story, but certain parts are just..left there. Unexplained, or hinted at with magic. This book’s writing style sounds absolutely gorgeous 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVED this book as well! One of my favorites that I read this year. For the same reasons that you described, I think. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to be ashamed, there are so many books out there it’s hard to keep track of them all! I hope you get a chance to read this soon, though 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. All those people are not leading you astray at all, this is one special book!! I hope you will get a chance to read it soon and happy new year to you too ❤


  6. All the Light We Cannot See was such an amazing read. I work at a library and it was one of those books that everyone in the department ended up reading even though we all have such differing likes. Everyone should read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Basically this review sums up just about every reason I loved All the Light We Cannot See. There’s nothing more that I love more in a book than beautiful prose, and this book definitely satisfied the need for that. I think what is so gorgeous about Doerr’s writing is that he points out the things that a lot of people don’t notice. I, too, loved that the characters had passions. Especially for Werner, it made him so much more than a Nazi youth turned to evil through propaganda by showing that even beyond his brainwashed mind, he was a real person. And yes, this book is practically made for rereads, if only to better notice all of the beautiful turns of phrase and understand with retrospect how the storylines fit together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree, I love that Doerr appreciates the little moments in life and the beauty of nature, it really shines in his work. His writing is so alluring, i am left wanting more!


  8. I’ve seen this book around, but I don’t often venture into Historical Fiction, so I put this book aside despite positive reviews. But you so eloquently described it’s beauty, that I actually want to read it now. I love beautiful prose and I love a touch of fairy tales in my stories. And you are so right, for a book blogger to say that she wants to reread a book is a big compliment. Though I’m a little bit wary about your remark that “beautiful prose made it difficult to experience the horrors of warfare”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s one of those books most people will appreciate, even if it’s out of their usual genre. I’m usually a high fantasy reader, but this book was so beautiful and moving!
      Yes, that was my only niggle with it – much of the violence and horror occurs offscreen – but it’s a book about the little triumphs in human spirits, rather than the tragedy of war,


  9. 1. that graphic is so pretty omg. I got the little mermaids feels from it.

    for real THO. the tbr has become progressively monstrous and I have books on my desk and kindle I still need to get to. the #struggle.

    I’ve been getting into historical fiction a lot lately and I definitely love Paris ❤ so I might just add this! darling review, aentee! 😀


  10. Reading your review is giving me an itch to re-read this wonderful book again. All The Light We Cannot See holds a particularly special place in my heart–this was the book that inspired to start a book blog. In fact, my VERY first review was this book. I am so glad you loved it as much as I did!

    By the way, that graphic is just gorgeous Aentee! 😍 You totally captured the theme of the story! What software do you use if you don’t mind me asking?


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