All The Light We Cannot See
4th The State
8.7 (Best Book)
The epic new novel from Sunday Times Short Story Prize-winner Anthony Doerr.
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.
Don't let the "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction" label that is printed at the cover make you quiver. At first, I dithers to pick up the book because Dude, it is Pulitzer winner. I expect to read tremendous amount of nonsense, and I will spend hours to rub my temple and my brain will explode because I cannot understand a thing. But after looking at that enchanting cover that tries to call and whisper to me to buy this book, I lost. This book wins me over. Mr. Doerr successfully enchants me with his latest work.
Indeed, All The Light We Cannot See begs to be adapted to film. It has those certain elements that will surely be loved by film critic. World War II? Check. Some sympathetic characters that require high skill in acting (in case it is filmed)? Check. Captivating story? Check. One day, it will win Best Actor and Best Actress.
But, I won't argue. All The Light We Cannot See deserves those awards. All The Light We Cannot See shows us different side in World War II story that is so unlike other war stories. It isn't filled with flash, bang, ricochet, boom. Instead, All The Light We Cannot See feels so quiet and tranquil. You can still hear those war machines moaning on the background, but you will be so focused to the characters that you will even think that those wars are probably only a sound on the back of your mind. Doerr writes in such a beautiful and ravishing way. All The Light We Cannot See whets all your senses in his staggering way: you can smell the ocean in Saint-Malo, you can feel the war's sorrow, you can hear Marie-Laure laughing, you can hear the sound of the radio that Werner fiddles with you can taste their pain. Doerr writes so many synesthetic sentences and it forces you to use all your senses that you have.
The only struggle with All The Light We Cannot See is the slow pace and timeline that is capricious. At first, you will ask yourself what the book is this about. The two main characters seems separate, and you are not able to wait when they will meet. You sometimes will ask yourself what Doerr tries to imply with his sentences. Sometimes I inquire about Werner's sexuality, about the significance of the diamond, about hidden meaning that Doerr tries to hide. He may hide something, but I finally realize that thinking such things will lessen my enjoyment in reading the book, so I decide to continue reading. Just read, and I finally recognize that Doerr is not in rush in unraveling his plot. His slow pace works gorgeously for his readers because it makes me fancy the journey more. It is like when you climb a mountain, you don't want to hasten your journey to the top; you want to enjoy the scenery more.
All The Light We Cannot See becomes easier read because of short fragments. Each chapter is really short, and it will give you more time to breathe, to digest what's the story about, and I can't help but feeling grateful because of it.
I don't know what another nominees in Best Fiction are, but All The Light We Cannot See is really gorgeous and marvelous. You will be accompanied with strong characters, strong plot, and beautiful sentences, making it one of the best books that I read this year so far.
So, I guess see you on Oscar in a few years?