Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tolog Review: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See 
by Anthony Doer
reviewed by Mila Mendoza

All the Light We Cannot See is set in during World War II, specifically in the city of Saint Malo, France. Although it initially seems like a typical boy meets girl story with a historical fiction twist, this assumption could not be farther from the truth; Marie-Laure and Werner don’t know each other (or do they?). Marie-Laure, a blind young French girl lives a content, stable life in Paris with her father, a museum locksmith. Eventually they are forced to escape the city to Saint Malo, where Marie-Laure’s great-uncle lives. Werner Pfennig is a German orphan boy who is uncannily good at engineering, and he attends a Nazi military training school. Eventually, Werner goes into the field; ending up in Saint Malo. This book follows the journeys of the two on their way to Saint Malo, and how they continue living upon arriving.

Because of the writing style, I have mixed opinions on this book. Author Anthony Doer intrigues the reader by frequently flashing forwards and backwards in time; but it also creates confusion. I love how the book begins with the future and shows how the characters reach that point, but the author repeatedly makes time changes. I personally became confused on multiple occasions, making the reading less enjoyable. On the other hand, he also uses incredible imagery on practically every page. Appealing to all the senses, the author talks about the smells, sounds, and texture of everything Marie-Laure comes across. Especially since one of the main characters is blind, the scenes he creates are vivid and powerful and easily transport you to the world of All the Light We Cannot See.

This book is a historical fiction novel set in the Nazi era that instead of commenting on the Germans’ choices, it scrutinizes the choices of the individual characters. Becoming power hungry, losing hope and bravery, and protection are seen throughout the book. Crucial to the plot is the Sea of Flames diamond; allegedly the beholder himself is immortal but all his loved ones die. The diamond and those who crave it are just examples of Doer’s thoughts regarding how people lose themselves in the face of tragedy. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and doesn’t mind a long read.

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