Saturday, January 24, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See: Were My Expectations Too High?

As I mentioned it a previous post, it seemed like I had been waiting forever for the library to tell me that my reading copy of All the Light We Cannot See was finally at the library waiting for me to bring it home.  

You might remember that I started in the queue at number 360 way back in mid-September.  My progress on the waiting list was very slow, but fairly steady, and I finally just put it out of my mind completely.  Then one day last week, I happened to notice that I was at number 22.  What could explain the sudden leap...did 150 people, or so, just give up and cancel their request?  The answer turned out to be that the county system allocated more money to purchase additional copies of All the Light We Cannot See and that jumpstarted the waiting line in a big way.  

Just a few days after my first post about the book, it was in my hands.  I started reading it (while continuing on with another book or two) on the afternoon I picked it up, and as of this moment, I'm on page 217 of the 530-page novel.  And I have to tell you that I'm a little bit "underwhelmed" here.  

I'm still hoping that All the Light We Cannot See grabs me in the powerful way that my all favorite novels do, but I'm starting to lose hope as I continue to turn the pages.  Don't get me wrong.  The plot is intriguing, and the book's construction, with the exception of one aspect of it, is clever and effective.  

The one thing I don't like about the book's structure is the endless series of 2-to-3-page segments that alternate between the book's two settings and main characters.  I realize that the two main characters will eventually meet - but I'm beginning to lose patience.  Just when I start to immerse myself in a segment, it's over, and I have to refocus my attention in a way that I find jarring and counterproductive.  

Too, I think it's because of these short segments that I'm having some difficulty in feeling that I know the book's characters very well.  Now, I do "like" several of them, especially Marie-Laure's crazy uncle, Etienne.  But I still don't feel all that warm and fuzzy toward the book's main characters: Marie-Laure and Werner.  

I'm starting to fear that I may have set the bar for All the Light We Cannot See so incredibly high that I doomed it before it had a chance to "wow" me.  Perhaps I would have been luckier if I had come to it completely cold.  Have this kind of thing ever happened to you?


  1. It happens to me all the time with books that get a lot of hype. I'm getting to the point that I consciously avoid heavily hyped books, expecting a letdown. Some of my favorite books are ones that I've come into completely cold.

    1. It's happened more with movies for me, Pete, than with books, and that's probably why I'm so disappointed with what seems to be happening with this one. I'm up to about page 260 and my feelings are pretty much the same. There have been some interesting bits and pieces, but they are run by me so fast that I can't really get into them enough to "feel" their impact.