This book literally shattered me emotionally. I’d heard a lot of amazing things about this book, but I would never have imagined this book would be THIS good and haunting.
I just can’t gush enough how much I adore this book. No words could ever describe how enthralled I was. Whatever I say could never be enough.
I honestly don’t know how to sum up this book; I can hardly find any words to describe it nor do I even know in which category I should pigeonhole this book. THIS BOOK, this story transcends and reflects time, space, history… simply breathtaking.
Some may find the constant back and forth between the perspectives and timelines a bit confusing and it might take some time to get used to. If you don’t keep in mind which time flame you are currently in (that’s shown at the beginning of each chapter), you’ll easily let it slip your mind and get lost. However, the plot is stunningly well-woven and captivating enough to make up for a little confusion.
Tugging along the threads of the two stories of a blind French girl and a 18-year German boy, we explore what happens to them and how they feel under the difficult time in a small town under German Occupation.
Both of them – Marie-Laure and Warner are both at the mercy of fate and the shadow of War that’s slowly encroaching on their lives breaks them both in different ways.
Intricately entwined with the plot involving the Sea of Flames, which is said to curse its keeper, this book kept me glued to the story most of the time.
While the first half was very strong and gripping, the latter half, especially around 300 pages felt a bit slowed and dragged; I felt like I was reading plot-less parts and wondered why it had to drone on and on and on.
That said, beyond that part, pieces and hints started to make sense to me – everything that I once deemed inconsequential and irrelevant fit together perfectly and the story started to drive towards the stunning finale.
What happens on page 483, the very last sentence on that page literally threw me for a loop – I was shattered to bits by the development and was momentarily lost for words; my brain couldn’t function. I felt Broken. Devastated.
Haven’t you felt that all you can do is just laugh out loud or breathe a sigh of despair when you’re completely mind-blown or something really upsets you? You just can’t process all the feelings and emotions inside you and can do nothing but laugh or sigh.
That’s exactly what happened to me this morning; I was up since 4:30 am reading this book and then I reached page 483 just around the time I was supposed to prepare for work – since I was so invested in this particular character, it took my breath away. Although I knew that I needed to snap out of it, I was bombarded by the whorling emotions. The gobsmacking development totally rendered me dysfunctional. All I could think was:
Oh, my God. Anthony Doerr, WHY??? Look at what you’ve done to me!!!
I honestly didn’t want to read any further, I totally lost steam, but from there, the story moves on towards the present and ends with a breathtaking, beautiful closing.
The writing is absolutely beautiful and really INTENSE. The delivery is on point and consistent, seamless. There were scenes where I found myself holding my breath and hearing my heart pounding against my chest – it’s astoundingly evocative.
The characters are also beautifully drawn and well-realized. I simply adored Marie-Laure’s papa and his affection towards his daughter as well as the heart-warming father and daughter relationship between Marie-Laure. The sacrifice he makes for the love of her daughter… my goodness, how poignant it is…
The portion with Fredelik was also harrowing; Werner’s inner torment from his conscience and cowardice was simply tough to get through. I had to put the book down to take it all in and brace myself for what’s coming next.
Frankly, I wasn’t fully convinced of the whole Sea of Flames plot, I felt it a bit far-fetched, but reading how it eventually ends up and how it works to connect the two dots, I can totally make sense out of it. I’m sold.
To put in a nutshell, I LOVE everything about this book. I literally ate this book up.
I’m still not happy with that particular development (absolutely Not), but this book definitely stole my heart and ripped it in two in a sad, but a good way.
An enthralling, magnificent masterpiece to sink your teeth into – this book will always, ALWAYS have a special place in my heart and totally deserves 5 out of 5 stars.