Picky Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See

There are two types of people.

Those that love a good war story and those that don’t.

More often than not those that love a good war story have never really been in the thick of things.

They find it exhilarating, sorrowful, hurting and sometimes, romantic even, because they don’t know what it is really like.

I am one of them.


I grew up in a country where a war raged for 26 years, deadlier than the World Wars when you really try to sit down and take stock, yet a war that’s forgotten now, a war that wasn’t much where the rest of the world is concerned.

I grew up less than 150 km away from it all, not being affected in the least, except for that once near death brush with an LTTE manufactured air plane, and we should really, really take a moment to appreciate that they built the bloody machine out of scrap!!

Out of scratch!!

And it flew and by Jove, that warrants a few choice swear words and a hot cup of tea!!

But I’m getting carried away as I am wont to do and this is a post about Anthony Doerr’s epic WWII tale All The Light We Cannot See.

A lot of the Bookstagram community loved it, others claimed it to not be so special. But then again, no story of war is ever special and that is probably why you will always, always find similarities and after a while the stories will blend together because war my dearies, is not original.

War happens when history repeats itself.

*waits until you spot that I have done a thing*

Doerr’s WWII is the same WWII as Anne Frank’s WWII is the same as Markus Zusack’s WWII. Werner could be Rudy and Marie Laure could be Leisel and… *throttles self to prevent spoilers… Fixes hair, realises it’s unfixable, moves on* Doerr’s book leaves an ugly scar in the fabric of time and space, as wars are supposed to.

But at the same time Doerr’s WWII is different. It’s a war that you see being born and just like Hitler’s parents only saw a pretty little baby, you aww and ooh and watch fascinated, never knowing that’s it’s going to grow into something terrible.

It shows you the world inside that DIY kaleidoscope you built with your older, bossier sibling in Grade Three. A world you still believed in. A world that was simple, and that simplicity, fascinating.

With Marie Laure, the world smells like the ocean, full of possibilities and unexplored corners of emerald green curtains where you will one day, someday surely, stumble upon Narnia and everything so far will be rearranged in bullet form for convenience of perspective.

With Werner the world is an old friend who’s company you abhorred but had no choice but to put up with. Werner’s world is gritty, it’s black and it’s white there never was grey or any other colour. As it picks up pace, Werner’s world only gets darker with the aid of the frozen bloodstains that splatter the dirty, soot-inflicted snow.

I used to be an easy person to please. But lately that has become one of the hardest things right after trying to swim across the Atlantic with your arms sawed off, and a shark slowly devouring your feet, toe by toe by toe.

This may actually turn out to be good thing because I am suddenly very attune to what I think was Chuck Wendig christened the bullshit metre. (I can smell em for miles boys, what do you mean it’s a good story? Your Nana’s neon pink Vegas wig is a good story!) I rarely love a book nowadays and that’s why I decided to try and come back to old school blogging.

The hype surrounding All The Light We Cannot See is true. It’s a damn sight of a good book. Buy a copy, make yourself some good strong tea, or coffee and read!

Final Verdict: Phenomenal

Favourite Quote: “You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history.”




Let me know what you think :)

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