All the Light We Cannot See All the Light We Cannot See discussion


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Did anyone else have difficulty connecting with this book.

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Susan This book has great ratings, but I could never get involved with it. And it went on for soooo long. Did anyone else have a negative reaction to this?


Jeremy I really enjoyed this book up until the point where the two protagonists are brought together. The resolution left me thinking ... What was the point? But I still found it to be a good read overall.


Dorothy Schwartz I too loved this book. The view of WWII is very different from the norm and the author does a fantastic job describing the thoughts of the blind girl. I found it a compelling and passionate read.


Grad Loved it. One of the best I've read in a long time.


Susan I guess I'm really in the minority here -- a minority of one.


Karen Spindler Just loved it. Really could not put it down...


Antonia I couldn't put it down either. Favorite fiction this year and maybe for a lot longer than that. I want more Anthony Doerr!


Cameron Stone I have to agree with Jeremy. I enjoyed the book up to a certain point. The relationship between father and daughter was precious... how much he adored her, and all that he did to make her feel secure and somewhat independent. And the illuminating viewpoint of the German boy and, orphaned as he was, how easily he was drawn into the propaganda of war. But I have to say that I found no resolution in the story, and therefore the ending left me flat.


Laurie I really enjoyed it. The perspectives of both characters - the young German and the French girl - kept me reading. I liked the combination of seeing both perspectives. It was interesting that the young boy seemed to join up because it was "the thing to do" even though he obviously had doubts. His reaction to those doubts also seemed realistic to me based on his circumstances and just the way many people are. Great book!


Lillian It's a brilliant story. The characters weren't super well-sketched, but I could relate to them. I agree that the ending is mediocre, especially after the stunning climax. It was a superb story till the resolution happened.


Chase I really enjoyed this book, I do agree with several other comments regarding the ending. It sort of left me dissatisfied as well.... but, it was a fantastic story. I think I most enjoyed tracking Werner through his youthful hope, disillusionment, and ultimate redemption. I just wanted more from the meeting with Marie-Claire. But oh well.


Cameron Stone The key was to the gate on the kennel beneath the ramparts.


Pearl Susan, you are not alone. I too did not like the book and cannot find a reason for all the raves over the book. Read it for a book club or I would not have finished it. I thought the book would never end and had to force myself to finish it.


Lillian Yeah, I still don't know whether Werner had the key or the jewel or both, and if he did have the jewel, how he knew to throw it away (because he didn't have the jewel when he died, obviously).


message 15: by Susan (new) - rated it 1 star

Susan Thank you, Pearl. I have felt very lonely.


Trang I enjoyed the book but had difficulty finding the point of it until after I'd finished reading and was pondering it. Agree with those who felt that by helping Marie-Laure, Werner was redeeming himself for all the times that he stood by while others were oppressed (Frederick, all the Jews and opposition fighters.)


message 17: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane This was one "best-Seller" I connected with. Usually I run screaming from them. It took awhile to get used to author's flashbacks and flash-forwards.


Linda I think Werner left the key in the wooden house to say that he had gone back to the grotto via the gate - curious perhaps about the "small wooden thing" Marie-Laure placed in the water. The fact that the key to the grotto gate was in the wooden house and the stone lies at the bottom "mantled with algae, bedecked with barnacles ..." indicates that he had tossed the stone into the water. Whether or not he would have known the worth of the stone or the myth behind it was of no importance; what was important was he knew Marie-Laure wanted it left in the water.


Petrina I cannot understand why everyone is gushing over this book. I love reading and this book did not enthrall me at all. I never connected with it. There was too much flowery language and so little plot. It should have been so much shorter. Also, I was irritated by the fact we had to keep jumping about in time. It got a little confusing. I had downloaded it onto my kindle so it is not as easy to keep going back to keep track as it is in a real book. Not my cup of tea. Read it to the end for a book club. 3 stars max


Petrina Susan wrote: "This book has great ratings, but I could never get involved with it. And it went on for soooo long. Did anyone else have a negative reaction to this?"

Sorry should have replied to your comment. See my comment above. You and I are on the same page. no pun intended


Debbie Field I really enjoyed this book although it was not what I expected at all. I found myself needing to know what happened next with the characters.


message 22: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth I was dissatisfied with the ending, but I loved the book. The writing was beautiful, and a lovely juxtaposition between great visualization with the text and a girl who could not see. I found that added to the book immensely. This is a book that can be enjoyed on the surface, as well as at deeper levels of imagery, symbolism, and foreshadowing.


message 23: by Lolo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lolo Engelman I thought it was a very slow moving read, but got better the last 200 pages and I couldn't wait to find out how it ended. not sure I would recommend it to anyone.


message 24: by Ruby (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ruby I struggled through it too somewhat and I love WWII historical novels. I found the history part interesting and liked the characters well enough, just thought the writing dragged. I knew where it was going and it just took forever to get there. I did like the end though where it caught up with all the characters years later.


Diane I think the book was way overvalued in its reviews. I've read no fewer than 6 Paris/worldwar books this year and I was underwhelmed by this book. Firstly, there's the tired trope of two people in very different circumstances bound to meet. And there's the setting of Paris. Sometimes I think authors use Paris as a locale because they think it will stimulate book sales. And it probably does. Paris does not make this work any better - and it could have used the help.For me, the final brick in the wall was the rather strained device of shifting narratives and time manipulation. Would I read another Doerr book? I'd probably give him another go because I suspect his writing skills are not yet fully realized.


message 26: by Susan (new) - rated it 1 star

Susan Petrina, Lolo, Ruby and Diane -- I'm glad to hear that others have had some problems with this book. I was afraid I had missed something.


message 27: by Linda (new)

Linda Wells I started the book then gave up. Maybe I should try again?


message 28: by Susan (new) - rated it 1 star

Susan I wouldn't.


message 29: by Lolo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lolo Engelman there are better books out there now.


message 30: by Linda (new)

Linda Wells Lolo wrote: "there are better books out there now."

Thanks!! I probably won't try again. I just couldn't get into it.


message 31: by Linda (new)

Linda Wells Susan wrote: "I wouldn't."

Thanks, Susan!


Susan Forrest Maybe this isn't the book for you....try not to "get into it" there are probably a lot of other novels that will make you happy.


message 33: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Loved this book. Even though it was long, I wished that it wouldn't end. Beautiful language and complex emotions. One of the best books that I've ever read.


Debbie Having read many books about WWII, the French resistance, Jewish oppression, and the duping of the Germans by hitler, I was prepared to find nothing new. The viewpoint of two young people of different cultures and sides of the war, was unique. Even though I knew the story of the war, their stories were special to each of their circumstances. In a world war where there is very little that is redemptive, there are beautiful moments delivered through sights and sounds that could only be seen through an innocents experience. BTW, Paris had little to do with this story. It was the location and history of saint malo which helped to bring this story forward. Doer is a composer and puzzle maker. To bring all these characters together and create an ending which satisfies his characters (maybe not all readers) is the mark of an exceptional book.


Helen Jane wrote: "Loved this book. Even though it was long, I wished that it wouldn't end. Beautiful language and complex emotions. One of the best books that I've ever read."

I agree with Jane. It was excellent and one of the best I have read in a long time!


message 36: by Mark (new)

Mark Diane wrote: "I think the book was way overvalued in its reviews. I've read no fewer than 6 Paris/worldwar books this year and I was underwhelmed by this book. Firstly, there's the tired trope of two people in..."


message 37: by Mark (new)

Mark I agree that the book was overvalued. The problem I had with it, in addition to the pointless time shifting of chapters, is that apparently Doerr's intent to produce a "blockbuster" induces him to merge historical fiction, magical realism, and adventure/mystery techniques such that the characters feel thin and contrived and the narrative driven without conviction to its contrived denouement. I actually found myself impatient to finish the book if only to see if the author could extricate himself from the Gordian knots he had tied for the principal protagonists. Having von Rumpel, Marie-Laure, and Werner in the same room with the curtains on fire would have been laughable if it weren't so annoying.


message 38: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary I'm with all those who were dissatisfied by the ending. This was a good book that could have been (and was, on many levels) a great one. But I found it frustrating in the end, and yes, a little contrived. With everything else that was going on, we did not need a magical diamond.


message 39: by Lolo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lolo Engelman Binsie wrote: "By the time I was getting to the end of the book I was reading it more out of penance than pleasure. I found it verbose and at times confusing"
I totally agree


Dennis Smith Susan wrote: "I guess I'm really in the minority here -- a minority of one."

No. You aren't alone. It just didn't do it for me. Like someone else said, by the time I was near the end, I felt like I was reading it "out of penance." In my humble opinion it just wasn't that good of a book.


Suzanne Loved the book. One of the best books of the entire year for me. I particularly enjoy WWII books i.e. 'The Book Thief', rates near the top with 'All the Light...' I was sorry to see it end. I missed the Jules Verne, '20,000 Leagues under the Sea' as a kid so I downloaded it from ibooks.


Michael Yes I felt that this book was overrated and boring.


Damian Dubois Not at all. In fact one of the the best books I've read in 2014 in my honest opinion. That's now three books set during the Second World War that I've enjoyed, the others being 'The Book Thief' and 'Life After Life'.


Darrenml I have to say that I really enjoyed it and couldn't fault it at all!


Carrie Grad wrote: "Loved it. One of the best I've read in a long time."

I agree totally!!


message 46: by Shan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shan He Cameron wrote: "I have to agree with Jeremy. I enjoyed the book up to a certain point. The relationship between father and daughter was precious... how much he adored her, and all that he did to make her feel secu..."

True! As much I enjoyed the book, the ending was a bit disappointing. I'd appreciate it if the author could elaborate more on the three encounters between the boy and the girl. Marie-Laure's inner world description has been brilliant, and yet Werner's last bit of thoughts fell flat and remained vague till the end.


Alexandra Grabbe I had a problem with this book because of the inaccuracies. The fact-finder did a lousy job. I became unable to trust the author and stopped reading half-way through.


Polly Krize Damian wrote: "Not at all. In fact one of the the best books I've read in 2014 in my honest opinion. That's now three books set during the Second World War that I've enjoyed, the others being 'The Book Thief' and..."Damian, I couldn't agree more with you. Life After Life was a very well-written book, and on my 2014 Top Ten Books for sure, along with All the Light We Cannot See


message 49: by Ted (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ted Flanagan One of the most beautiful pieces of literature I've ever read. Go back and look at the craftsmanship that went into every single sentence, imagine what it took to keep that level up for almost 600 pages. An amazing feat of writing and storytelling. This book will stand the test of time. A real achievement.


message 50: by Julz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Julz Nathan I was utterly mesmerised until the protagonists met and it was at this point the author literally and figuratively lost the plot. I felt a bit cheated because I had invested so much time with connecting with the characters. It sort of felt the author felt it was time to wrap things up. A pity because it could have been one of the best books I'd read in 2014.


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