The Life of Bon: Bon's Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Bon's Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See


Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it.  Join in for whatever books you can.  I know you are all busy, and you might not be able to read all the books. (Or be interested in reading all the books!)  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!


I finished this book two hours ago and I usually find it's best for me to sit on a heavy read like this for at least a day before I go spatting off my opinion on it.  But I don't have a day!  So I'll give you my opinion and then tomorrow I'll come on here and delete everything and give you my new opinion!

Things I liked about this book:
+ Gorgeous descriptions.  This is some of the best recently written prose I have ever read.  You can tell that Doerr really poured over his sentences, and the result is just a beautifully crafted book.  There were so many times where I had to stop and reread the descriptions because they were just so beautiful.  There were several parts I highlighted that I want to go over with my AP class because sheesh, that guy knows how to work a sentence.

One of my favorite descriptions:

We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust.  Must smaller.  Divide.  Multiply.  Add and subtract.  Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm.  The lungs the brain the heart.  Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother's birth canal and we howl.  Then the world starts in on us (478).

+ Very brave likeable main characters.  It is very easy to love the two main characters- Werner and Marie-Laure.  Both are orphans and just small children throughout much of the book.  They are brave and fight against the odds and they're both small skinny little things and you can't help but root for them.

+ Everyone's a misfit.  It's not only Marie-Laure and Werner, all the characters in this book are somehow disadvantaged in life- orphans, disabled, old, too small, insane etc.  I loved that.  A bunch of misfits and the small part they played in the war. (At one point Doerr calls a group of characters "The least robust rescue ever assembled.")

+ Short Chapters.  Chapters were 2-3 pages each which I LOVED.  I'm totally a short chapter girl.  The point of view changed with each chapter, and at times that was really hard for me.  I hate it when something interesting is happening to one character and then it cuts off and I have to read about another character for awhile.  Drives me nuts.  I feel like I totally lose momentum.

+Side plot with the jewel.  I really enjoyed the stuff about the gem just because I feel like that made it different from every other WWII book ever written- a little something to make it stick out of the group.

Things I did not like about this book:
+ Slow Plot.  The plot just did not get moving!  250 pages into it and I was still just trucking along, hoping and praying it would pick up.  It kind of picks up the last 150 pages or so, but really it's just a slow book.  It is definitely a detail and description oriented book, not heavily plot driven.  The descriptions are absolutely stunning but at times I felt like I was reading poetry, not a story.  I just needed the story telling pace to pick up a little bit for me.  Also, like I mentioned earlier, the jumping around of characters was tough for me.  I felt like this wasn't really a story, more like a stack of photographs.  Each chapter is a picture, describing what you see in the picture and then you have to piece together all the pictures to figure out the story.  It was just a bit arduous for me.  I never felt like the reading got easy and enjoyable; I never really hit my reading flow with this book.

Side plot with the jewel. While I did like this side story, I didn't feel like it was really answered at the end what happened to the jewel.  Was it really the cause for all the unhappiness in Marie-Laure's life?  I felt like Doerr was trying to answer something with it and maybe I just didn't get it because I was trying to read 280 pages of this book in one day...  I just felt like that played such a huge huge part throughout the whole story, and then it was just kind of dropped at the end with no clear explanation.


+ Not enough time with Werner and Marie-Laure together.  This book frustrated me because I knew the two paths would cross but it didn't happen and it didn't happen and it didn't happen.  Finally at the very end of the book they meet.  And then after all that ground work, all that back story of both of these characters, they literally spent SIX PAGES TOGETHER.  Come on Doerr, you're killing me!  I felt like I did a lot of work in reading up to that point and was not aptly rewarded.

+ Too sad.  I was really frustrated that this book never got happy.  I thought I was going to read 500 pages of the lives of very sad and miserable people to be rewarded by them overcoming their hardships, difficulties and finding happiness.  Now, I know all books don't have to have a happy ending but I felt like Doerr was setting that up.  It was clear Werner and Marie-Laure were going to meet and I thought they were going to be each other's saviors and get through the war together.  But no, Werner saved her from the closet and that was it.  And then, Doerr has the nerve to go and kill off Werner!  Just like that.  After everything he went through, everything he survived, let's just have him walk off in the middle of the night into a land mine!  I was seriously so mad at that point I wanted to throw my book.  I felt like I invested all my time into Werner and his life and his backstory for nothing.  I can't remember the last time a character's death made me that upset.  I think the way he died really bothered me.  Come on, Doerr, have some respect for your protagonist!  You spent 40 pages saving his life after he was practically buried alive, now don't just go kill him in one sentence at the end of a chapter!  

Also I hated that the aunt died and Marie-Laure's grandpa died and EVERYBODY died.  It was just too sad.  You can kill some characters but you can't kill them all, that's just rude. Only Shakespeare can do that.

SO... overall I would give the book three out of five stars.  Gorgeous gorgeous prose but the ending and random killing off of Werner and slow plot really made it hard for me to love this one.

What'd you all think?  Can't wait to hear your thoughts!  I will be responding to all comments today.  If you wrote a post on the book make sure to leave it in the comments!

October 8 ... Happier at Home or The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
November 12... And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Join in!

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