All the light we cannot see
I heard about this book ages ago, so long I don’t remember who said it but they raved and so I went to my book app and reserved it. That was in JUNE. I think I was number 85 and the library had 3 copies. I promptly forgot about it and like a Christmas gift my turn came up while we were in Hawaii. I powered through the book I was in the middle of (the newest in the scifi Laundry Files series that had way too many shades of Pearl Harbor, or maybe that’s more about where I was) and downloaded.
I’m going to call this my official first book of 2017 because while I started just before new year, the majority was in the past 2 weeks. On top of that, this is the type of book that colors the world around you. I can’t look at a snack without thinking of all the times the characters had nearly nothing. I can tell this will be one of those books I remember at odd times in conjunction with odd things because of what I was doing or where I was when reading. Do you get the feeling that it was a powerful book?
The writing style is like a fine meal. The words are carefully chosen and put together in such a way to evoke a feeling. There is the simplicity of Hemingway and the convergence of all the adjectives of Robert Jordan and this book is riding somewhere in the middle. I especially like that the two main characters are both children and the story is told through the eyes of kids that grow up in WWII. One is pulled into the Nazi war machine, the other a blind French girl who finds herself in the resistance. Nazi and Resistance are both in the story, but, they are side details and only if you actually already know about them do the little bits draw together. They are kids, regardless of where they are, and the world around them is ‘normal’ like a frog slowly being boiled.
The author also pulls in a few other classic books that parallel the story. I’m sure it was done on purpose, there is just too many coincidences for it to be accidental. Hitler v Darwin. The journey to the center of the earth v trapped in their respective situations. Captain Nemo being crazy but then again not wanting him to fail and in the end never quite knowing what happens…
Overall the story that knits the lives together is interesting and enough of a link that it is realistic and magical and not prosaic. I love the ending, both for what actually happened and the fact that it is written like a dream as both characters are so starving and going slightly crazy from life. I also appreciate that the author ends with a more adult view of what happens when everyone grows up. There is a shift in tone as we see former children as full adults post-war, but, there is still point of view differences in each based on where they came from and their journey there. I’m glad that it was not like Journey to the center of the Earth where you just don’t know, I really really like knowing.
It is almost hard to pick up the next book because that will truly finish this one, but, the story is complete and I’m moving on to The Moor, another one I was waiting on, and completely different in every way. Totally intelligent and adult writing in the Shurlock Homes Genre.