All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | A slow read and not quite worth the hype

All the light we cannot see

This book has literally been on my TBR for YEARS. Finally, after many days of overlooking it, I decided to pick it up. At last! Now my bookworm brain can stop niggling at me with that little feeling of guilt.

spoiler free

Let’s dive right in!

All the light we cannot see


Synopsis (1)

(Found on Goodreads)

‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth,

In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.


Alright. This is where I feel like a heartless demon for not being moved by what is deemed to be one of the most moving and highly acclaimed novels in years.

Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy the book. 3 stars is not a bad rating from me. It’s just not an impressive rating either.

Let’s break it down.

So I’d been meaning to read this book for YEARS, after hearing the unbelievable amount of hype and awards it won. That, paired with historical fiction being one of my favourite genres ever, had me excited. It had my hopes high. Should have seen it coming really that my hopes would just be left on some weird middle ground.

Now, this is definitely a slow read. No matter what is happening in this book, it keeps that same slow pace. Which might sound like a bad thing, but I don’t actually mind slow reads. So no problems there.

I did find it fascinating to read for Marie-Laure’s point of view. Being a blind girl during the war, I admired and felt for her immediately. As if the war wasn’t scary enough, imagine not having immediate confirmation of what was happening around you. It also meant we saw the war differently – things are described through sound and touch instead of it focusing dominantly on sight. It was interesting to see, and was probably quite a task for Anthony Doerr to take on.

That being said, where I found Marie-Laure’s chapters intriguing, I didn’t really care for Werner’s point of view. Which is a real shame, considering half of the book is about him. With every chapter it switches between the two, with a few chapters spotted around focusing on another character entirely, but I’d sometimes find myself internally *sighing* when the focus shifted again. I just wanted to stay with one character more than 5 pages, y’know? Because yes, that’s how short the chapters are.

I feel like this was a more subdued version of the war than I usually read about. Sure, there was the Hitler Youth, guns, bombs, general disarray and fear…but somehow it just felt like not all that much happened? In a 500 page book, I can’t really wrack my brain and bring up a whole bunch of events that happened – each character had their thing, the plot moved slowly, and that was about it.

I do feel bad for explaining it that way. But when everyone and their mother has yelled about this book being so utterly heartbreaking and poignant, when it’s won a whole heap of awards and is a common choice in book clubs, I just found myself reading it and wondering…why? I couldn’t help but think it was slow and subdued. Enjoyable, yes, but not worth the level of hype it has. Which is really a tad disappointing, considering how much I thought I’d adore this book. Still, it’s not bad. As much as this review seems pretty meh.

Rated 3/5 stars

3 stars

Book Depository

give a warning

Share your thoughts!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

If you haven’t, do you plan to?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…


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11 thoughts on “All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | A slow read and not quite worth the hype

  1. Great review! Yeah, I agree with you. I was told over and over again how wonderful this book was, but I never really connected with it. I did think the writing was beautiful, and there are lines I really loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m undecided on whether to try this one🤔. I like the idea, but I just have this feeling that it’ll annoy me of the subject matter isn’t dealt with properly

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t remember this book being so “heartbreaking” (since it’s been 2 years I have read it) but I left it with some good vibes. Yes, it’s a bit sugared, WW2 for sure has been harsher; but it’s been a nice, cozy book to read (cozy in the sense it was nicely done). Thanks I haven’t seen the hype or I would have been disappointed as well)
    xo Annina

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m one of the hypers lol. Yeah, it’s definitely suuper slow paced, which is why when I tried to read it the first time, I gave up and moved on. A few weeks later I picked it up again and was determined to finish it. And I did, and I loved it. What is weird though, is that I do agree with how you describe the events of the book. I think character-driven more than applies here. I guess I was just in the right mood at the time? I loved it because of the idea that all these people were living the same war, and no matter how innocent or guilty they were, those were the roles they played, and at the end I was like wow, So yeah, wow. XD

    I hope your next read was better though! It always sucks when you hope to like a book and it doesn’t happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I’m so glad to hear you loved it though! It’s definitely character driven – it’s just a shame I didn’t like one of the main characters all that much ahaha 😆 But I can see WHY people love it. So I’m glad you did!

      Liked by 1 person

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