The Fellowship of the Worms: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

February 9, 2015 Book Club, World War II 12

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be chewing on the brain food that is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of All the Light We Cannot See and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of All the Light We Cannot See on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

1. Marie-Laure is stricken blind at a young age. Despite her disability, she goes on to do some pretty amazing things. Were there any instances in Marie-Laure’s experiences that surprised you?

I am amazed at the way the human mind compensates for a compromised sense. Marie-Laure’s acute senses of smell and hearing were impressive. Of course, I think she’d have been in much rougher shape were it not for her AMAZING father. Oh that Daniel LeBlanc! Creating a miniature model of their neighborhood in Paris? Teaching Marie-Laure to navigate? The lengths he went to protect her? Their relationship was so incredibly sweet.

2. Werner has, without question, a brilliant mind. Unfortunately, being raised an orphan he is afforded few opportunities. When he is accepted into the prestigious Nazi school, his sister Jutta is opposed to his attending. What would you have done in Werner’s shoes?

Oh goodness, how I felt for Werner! And for Jutta! Seriously, there were so few options. Could Werner have declined the invitation to join the school? Maybe. Without consequences? That’s hard to say. I mean, did you SEE what happened to Frederick? The Nazi regime was really effing scary. I’d like to think I’d be noble and amazing, but I think I’d have taken Werner’s route. He had the best of intentions to make a difference from the inside, but it proved impossible. Luckily he managed to hold on to his humanity in the end, poor kid.

3. When Etienne and Marie-Laure are working for the resistance and broadcastingallthelightwecannotsee coded messages, Etienne frets that his actions will certainly get people killed. Marie-Laure tries to console him by telling him that they’re “the good guys.” Etienne expresses that he hopes so. Do you think there are ever any clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in war?

Ooooh, Katie, GOOD QUESTION. There’s nobody who would argue that the Nazi regime was a good thing. (Well, nobody who isn’t horrible on a fundamental level.) However. How many Werners were there in that army? How many innocent civilians would be caught in the crossfire? How many Allied soldiers did awful things of their own accord? War is such a big nightmarish sticky mess. Could we maybe stop having them already?! Gah!

4. That doggone Sea of Flames! It’s got quite the tale attached to it, what with its curse and all. A number of people believe this to be true, Von Rumpel among them. In fact, it’s almost as though the curse of the diamond started the whole dang war. Do you think it was cursed and/or brought protection to the one who held it?

Yeah I’m not big on superstitions, but wouldn’t it be nice to blame WWII on an evil diamond? I think Von Rumpel’s buy in was based directly on the fact that he was dying of cancer and desperate. You can’t deny that Marie-Laure, despite some super dangerous extra-curriculars survived. I doubt that Doerr really meant for the reader to believe a supernatural stone had all kinds of power, but it provided a nice narrative element.

5. Do you think if Werner hadn’t succumbed to illness, he and Marie-Laure might have had a future together?

Hi, I’m Katie and I want people to be happy! It would have ruined the book and I’d have hated it for having a cheeseball ending, but there’s a significant part of me that REALLY wanted Werner and Marie-Laure to have a happily ever after! They could move to Switzerland and she could have studied things and he could have made scientific breakthroughs and had babies. Jutta and Etienne could have lived with them in their modest ski chalet and they could collectively have worked to heal all their various broken psyches. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of All the Light We Cannot See. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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12 Responses to “The Fellowship of the Worms: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr”

  1. Andi (@estellasrevenge)

    Ugh, I haven’t finished it yet. For some reason, I have no desire to pick it up! I LOVE it when I actually do pick it up, but no motivation. Maybe because it’s so long? I don’t know. I’m not giving up, but I’m giving myself a break while I read some other things to get my mojo going.

  2. Laura @ canido52

    So I can’t read this review because I haven’t read the book… but I am trying to figure out if I should read the book!!! Rating out of 5? Or books if i liked I might like this? THanks – happy reading x

    • Words For Worms

      I’m awful at star ratings, they feel so arbitrary. It really depends on what you like. Set in WWII, a drama, very emotionally intense. I’d say 4/5. Definitely worth the read, in my opinion.

  3. kristin @ my little heart melodies

    Ok, I finally finished… annnnnnnnnd I didn’t love it. 🙁 Just didn’t hold my interest the way I expected it do. The slow start never picked up for me. The timing of reading this one could have just been off for me—I have a million work/life things on my mind right now. Honestly I think I would have DNF if it weren’t for being a gift and your readalong. Sorry! Boo on me.

  4. Somer

    Hi Katie. So….my boss recommended this book to me last fall, then my mom randomly bought it for me for christmas, and then you did a book club reading of it. I was destined to read this book! I just finished tonight and really loved it. Doerr’s style of writing was almost fantastical/romantic. His descriptions and metaphors were simple, yet beautiful. I think his short chapters added to this feeling as well. Overall, it was a very enjoyable reading experience. Which on one hand, makes me feel a little weird considering the subject matter. But even through all of the horrible things the characters experienced, there was a hopefulness in his writing that made you think everything would work out okay. Maybe it was the fable of the diamond? The only thing I didn’t love was the ending. The first 90% of the book jumped around in time, but it was mostly in large chunks so it was digestible. But each of the last chapters would jump 20 years or more and it just didn’t gel very well. I know that the book would be hokey and lose respect if everyone survived, but I was devastated in how Werner died! After everything he did! Guess he should have kept that diamond, huh? Anyways, in my opinion, I feel that it should have ended with him saving Marie-Laure and leaving the reader wondering if they ever met again. The ending was just really depressing!

    But overall, this book made me think about WWII in a different way. I feel like in school, the French occupation was really skimmed over, and I was glad to see it in a more detailed light. I also loved the perspective of an intelligent young man being forced into war. That’s one aspect of the Nazis I could never really cope with. How could all of those soldiers, and an entire country, act they way they did? How could they never question their actions? But here was a character that did in fact question everything. He wasn’t the bravest by any means, but in the end he at least saved 2 people.

    Can’t wait to gift this to many friends!

  5. Natalie Sharp

    An someone PLEASE talk to me about the owl scene with Frederick and his mother? What was up with that? Was he suddenly conscious and lucid, or was it a momentary lapse? Was it his mothers imagination?

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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