Quick synopsis: In the early ’90s, a 19-year-old girl goes missing. 25 years later, the missing girl’s two younger sisters, who have been estranged since the younger of the two married a rich scumbag, get caught up in the case of another missing teenage girl.
Started off really liking this book. It was fast-paced and the story intrigued me, even though the characters weren’t particularly interesting. And then at a little over the half-way mark I started feeling indifferent. Partially because the plot took a bizarre, unbelievable turn.
And then at three-quarters in I’m like…
No spoilers of course, but let me give some advice to all of you aspiring horror novel/film writers: there’s a difference between disturbing your readers and disgusting them. I like scary books and scary movies because a weird part of me likes to be disturbed. I find it interesting to look inside the minds of messed up people who commit horrible crimes. I do not, however, enjoy being grossed out. Piss, shit, and vomit fall under the later category. These things don’t shock or disturb me. They just make me lose my lunch.
And when certain characters were in peril, I didn’t give two shits about whether they lived or died. They could be chopped up into little bits for all I cared, because they were so two-dimensional and anything resembling a plot had slipped out from under them.
So yea… skip this one.
In case you haven’t heard, All the Light We Cannot See has won a crapload of awards, including the Pultizer. Why? Hell if I know.
Not saying this isn’t a good book. It’s totally fine. But it’s unremarkable.
I have read SO MANY books that take place during World War II, and will probably read many more in my lifetime. Why are there so many popular books about World War II? Because it was recent enough that we feel a connection to it, but it’s long enough ago that it’s not too depressing? Because between the Holocaust, and the soldiers, and German citizens, and the Japanese, there are so many story possibilities? Because as Americans, World War II fits our ideal notion of a war: one that’s justly fought and won by the obvious “good guys”? Probably all of these things. A lot of World War II books are on my favorites shelf, (The Book Thief, Maus, Sophie’s Choice, Slaughterhouse-Five), but a few World War II books kind of suck (like Sarah’s Key. Don’t even get me started.). All the Light’s is an in-between kind of thing.
I gave this 3.5 stars (rather than 3) because the writing is beautiful. There’s some gorgeous imagery and great metaphors, (with a few stupid ones here and there). And for the most part I cared about the two main characters and their families. I’ll admit that part of the reason why I didn’t love this was because I expected the plot to go in an entirely different direction. And other than that, for a war novel, it just wasn’t gritty enough for me. All the Light is World War II as approved by a conservative 9th grade English teacher. It didn’t help me think of the War in any new way. It didn’t make me squirm. It didn’t make me cry (or laugh). It was decent. But I’m going to forget about it in a few years.
So why all the hype? I guess because it’s well-written and non-threatening. It’s G-Rated and conventional enough that parents don’t mind giving it to their teenagers to read. As opposed to something like Middlesex, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner in 2002. My mom would have been horrified if she knew I was reading Middlesex when I was only 14. Yah… this makes me kind of mad. Not to say that every great book has to be “controversial,” but to me, remarkable authors are those who are willing to take a risk in one way or another. Sure, give safe things like this the bronze. But not the gold.
The other day, I posted a list of some books that are perfect to read to your little one on Halloween. Well, when I’m not reading stuff about fluffy puppies, I often like to venture into worlds of murder, abuse, and psychological torment. Why? I’m not too sure. Watch this video to get some ideas. Of course, do that after you check out this nice, Halloween-related list for grown-ups. I tried to pick books that are not only gross and depraved, but are also well-written and thought-provoking.
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