All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and has been considered by many to be an instant classic. I thought differently. This book, while using the language in the most beautiful ways I’ve ever read, was poorly written for translating a story. It was a book that spends hundreds of pages building characters and tension through beautifully described prose, only to skip over climactic moments in a sentence, or sometimes to leave the climax unwritten all together only to have the events mentioned in the next chapter. If you read for the art of the language and how words can paint a time and a person, this book is for you and will be the best you ever read. If you read for entertainment and a good story, this one will leave you frustrated. It is 450 pages of buildup and 80 pages of fluff (but beautifully written fluff) after the skipped climax. If you stick a daisy on a turd, some will only see the daisy; others will only see the turd. I recommend this book for the beauty of the writing, but the poor storytelling practices makes it a book that I recommend begrudgingly.
I can’t really call this book hollow, but it certainly wasn’t solid all the way through. It was entertaining, but it fell rather flat. There were no shocks in it and the three linked short stories that comprise this book each fail as stand-alones. If you love GoT, read it while you wait. If you are a casual fan, skip it.
This book failed to live up to the hype for me. The story fell flat for me. It was the story of a journey into adulthood and seeing the world as it really was: evil, beautiful, and a multitude of shades between. The delivery was off though. It lacked the moment where you felt the world widen and the eyes brighten. Knowing the background of the book, and the background of the characters for that matter, was the major redeemable quality. And for that, that wonderful feeling of getting together with old friends, this book is worth a look, but like often is the case, old friends have become old, inside jokes have run stale, and new memories are not created to replace the old ones that fade.
I reserve five star reviews for masterpieces. While this book was solid fun, it isn’t for everyone. The book has five stories in it, and each has their own charms and short comings.
“The Dandelion Girl” by Caren Gussoff is a beautifully written story that has us wondering if we are reading a remake of Terminator or a beautiful love story.
“Jean Genie” by Anna Tizard was the weakest story of the book for me, and I say that because when I was finished with the book, I had no memory of this story at all. It left no impact on me. I went back and saw I had left notes, a custom for me, or else I might not have known I had read it.
“Ideal Reader” by Jake Walters is a fun story. It is a story so absurd and ridiculous that if you were to pitch it as a story idea you wouldn’t get past the first sentence before they send you on your way. However, the author, despite his absurd story, takes the crafting of the story very seriously and writes an unnerving horror that makes you feel the unease of the absurdity along with the character.
“Dracula” by Mark Mazzenga was not my cup of tea, but the idea was interesting and may be loved by some. It was a story of Dracula being raised as a human in the modern world. A story like this could have worked for me had it been terribly funny or humorously horrific, but this was neither and fell a little flat.
“Womb Envy” by S. Macleod was not surprisingly the star of the book for me. Macleod was the reason I bought the book, and I was excited to read another story by her. This one did not disappoint. Her ability to be gruesome and charming with the same character is quite impressive. The story of psychological interpretations and death exploration is chilling and fascinating.
All and all, I feel this book is well worth the time and money, and I recommend it.