The heroine is Marie-Laure LeBlanc, whose loving father, a talented locksmith, goes to extraordinary lengths to help her compensate for the loss of her eyesight...Mr. Doerr’s acutely sensory style captures the extreme perceptiveness Marie-Laure has developed by the time World War II begins. Much of the story unfolds during the war, although it jumps back and forth. The book opens in August 1944, two months after D-Day, with the sound of things falling from the sky and rattling against windows. Marie-Laure knows these are leaflets. She can smell the fresh ink … Werner’s experience at the school is only one of the many trials through which Mr. Doerr puts his characters in this surprisingly fresh and enveloping book...Mr. Doerr’s nuanced approach concentrates on the choices his characters make and on the souls that have been lost, both living and dead.
Enthrallingly told, beautifully written and so emotionally plangent that some passages bring tears, it is completely unsentimental … Doerr achieves…[the] wonders of this book by creating a structure as intricate as any model made by Marie-Laure’s father. Cutting back and forth in time, he creates nearly unbearable suspense. Every piece of back story reveals information that charges the emerging narrative with significance, until at last the puzzle-box of the plot slides open to reveal the treasure hidden inside. A lesser novelist would be content with this achievement, but Doerr twists the puzzle-box once more and brings his novel into the present.
I must blame Anthony Doerr for lost sleep, because once I started reading his new novel, All the Light We Cannot See, there was no putting it down … Marie-Laure is an exquisitely realized creation. Her blindness is convincingly represented, and the steady love of her locksmith father (who builds scale models of the neighborhoods she must learn to negotiate with her cane) makes her story both more beautiful and more believable … While Marie-Laure’s participation in the Resistance develops naturally out of who she is, Werner’s life lacks context, at least during the important period when he has departed Schulpforta for the Eastern Front … The fact is, All the Light We Cannot See falls shortest when it tries to deal with Nazism. It falls back on flimsy types...Most preposterous of all is a certain Sgt. Maj. Reinhold von Rumpel, whose wickedness and physical loathsomeness are offset by nothing that could make him into a rounded character. His unbelievability exemplifies a mistake writers often make when describing monsters.