What I loved: As a writer, I rely on language to translate my thoughts to tangible sentences on paper, or in this case, the screen. However, even I cannot find the appropriate combination of letters and words to describe my love for this book, but I will try my best.
As soon as I started listening to All the Light We Cannot See, I instantly knew this would be one of my favorites and an obvious classic. I was hesitant at first to take on yet another WWII book, but I can promise you, this story is unlike any other book from this time period.
As the novel develops, it becomes easy to see how the different plots and characters’ stories will intertwine. There is the story of Marie-Laure, Werner, and a sub-plot involving a greedy Nazi and his desperate exploration across Europe for a very specific diamond known as, “The Sea of Flame.”
I’ve read books in the past with multiple plots, and it wasn’t surprising if one of the stories was lacking a certain, “Je ne sais quoi,” the others had. This is not one of those books. Both Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s stories could have been their own books; they were so incredibly in depth, detailed and delicately beautiful.
It didn’t take long to emotionally attach myself to the characters. Each of them has a past and a story to tell. Each draws you in with their heart-wrenching tales of misfortune and sadness and leaves you desperate to leap into the book and save them.
Doerr does an inexplicably phenomenal job detailing every scene with powerful imagery and sensational language. During chapters written in the point of view of Marie-Laure, he is able to write as though he is blind, and describe what a person with no sight may smell, hear or sense at any given time.
All the Light We Cannot See had me perpetually pining to know the ending, but hesitant to finish because I knew I’d be sad to leave the story behind. I never wanted it to end. If there’s one thing Doerr teaches the readers, it’s that no matter what happens, life will always go on. And even for myself, even though I’ve finished the book, my life will go on. I will find another book to love, but All the Light We Cannot See will always hold a special place in my heart.
What I didn’t: Honestly, I can hardly think of anything I disliked about this book. The only aspect that was difficult for me was keeping track of characters’ names. Most names are French or German and I’m already horrible at remembering names. Besides this, which is a fault of my own and not of Doerr’s, there is not one thing I would change about the novel.
What I loved about listening: Personally, I am a visual person. Show me a phone number and I’ll have no trouble at all remembering it, but read it to me, and I’ll most likely forget the digits as soon as the last one leaves your lips. Because of my strong visual senses, listening to a book was a new challenge for me. However, it was a challenge I enjoyed taking on.
The narrator, Zach Appelman, did a perfect job reading the book. His voice is calm, soothing and easy to follow. He excelled at manipulating his dialect to reflect the character whom was speaking. Each character had their own specific pitch and tone. Without knowing who was talking, you would still be able to know exactly which character was speaking.
Appelman also has fantastic French and German accents and any words used of a different language won’t stump you, if you pay attention to the context they are in.
There is no background music to this audio book.
Once you start to listen, you will never want to stop and I am curious to see how Appelman is able to narrate other books and/or if Doerr’s other books are narrated as nicely.
What I didn’t love about listening: The way this book was written, there are 10+ main chapters. However, each chapter has different sections. When a new chapter begins, Appelman announces the new chapter, but when a new section is beginning there is only a pause. If you are not wholly paying attention, you might miss when a new section of a chapter begins and ends. I was able to grasp this concept, only when the story was on its last leg of the race.
Other books by Anthony Doer can be found here
Other books narrated by Zach Appelma can be found here