On not loving an “IT” book…

General summary of an “IT” book – a book (usually new) that has been getting a lot of positive reviews, a lot of advertisement, hype and interest… basically everyone seems to love this book.

So, I read an article on Book Riot over the weekend that I loved because someone said what I had been thinking lately.  I’ll summarize here, but hop on over to their page to read the article “The Seven Stages of Not Loving an ‘It’ Book” by Kat Howard where she does a really good job of describing these stages.

Here are her stages:

1. Discovery – a new book… must add to TBR!

2. Excitement – I cannot wait to read it!

3. Reading – do not disturb.

4. Doubt – umm….OK, maybe it gets better….

5. Self-doubt – maybe I missed something…am I just not getting it?

6. Rage – how can so many people love this book?!

7. Acceptance – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… this just was not mine.

So, how many of you have gone through these stages?  I feel like I’ve done that a lot this year, actually.  I’m also thinking of books that are not just ‘new’ but of classic books that people rave (and have talked about for years) over how good they are and how you HAVE to read it…some of them are good, yes.  But some of them are… not.  The Alchemist, in my opinion was one of these books.  It was not horrible, but it was definitely disappointing.  I’m actually reading one right now that I’m probably in stage 4 or 5 of… I’ll hold my thoughts until I finish it, because you never know…. it could actually get better.  I’ll keep you posted on how that one turns out for me.   All the Light you Cannot See is another one.  I’ve already posted my thoughts on that one, but… I just didn’t love it.  It was good, yes, but not GREAT and after all of the awards and reviews, I expected GREAT.  We all have different tastes and preferences and look for different things in the books we read, though and we all won’t love the same things.  That’s one thing I love about blogging – getting to hear what other people think!  What are some “IT” books that you didn’t love?

All the Light We Cannot See…is it worth the hype?

One of the books that I was able to finish on one of my flights from the weekend is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Which, by the way I am so glad that I was able to finish.  It feels like I’ve been carrying that book around for a month!  I haven’t really… it just felt like it, you know?  So, we were supposed to discuss this book for our book club last month (but we didn’t because everyone happened to be on Chapter 2 at the time) and I was determined to finish it before our next meeting!  I succeeded- hooray!  I was so excited to see how this story played out and had been looking forward to reading it for months.  I love historical fiction and especially World War II stories, plus this author added a really interesting twist.  Plus, it won the Pulitzer Prize this year.

all the light we cannot see

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about the book:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

So, I looked up the book on YouTube and found a video with the author describing his inspiration for the story and it was really interesting the way he described how we (human beings) take advantage of the magic of technology all around us.  We can pick up a cell phone and talk to someone thousands of miles away and hear them as if they were standing right next to us.  Part of this concept is interwoven into the story with the radios and whatnot.  I, personally love that kind of stuff — it fascinates me.  For instance in the story, Werner and his sister are listening to the radio and discover a station of scientific lessons talking about how the brain sits in total darkness but is able to translate light and colors.  Nerdy, yeah maybe a little but who cares?

So Werner is a brilliant German kid who is swept away in the war because of his ability to fix radios and do intricate mathematical formulations.  His story alternates with Marie-Laure, in France, who is blind and learns how to navigate her way around Paris and Saint-Malo from her father’s miniature model of the town.  It is really very interesting, too to see the world from Marie-Laure’s perspective.  Her descriptions are lovely and I love the way that she ‘sees’ colors! It’s worth reading just for those descriptions – really well written!

So, that being said… I loved the beginning.  And I loved the ending.  However, to be honest, I found it a bit slow in the middle.  Perhaps part of the reason may be because for some reason I expected Marie-Laure and Werner to meet sooner in the story and for their lives to overlap and intertwine a little bit more.  Spoiler:  Werner and Marie-Laure don’t meet until closer to the end of the book; like around page 400 or so.  So perhaps that could be why I found the middle a little slow; I was waiting for the story to take a different turn.  Which, don’t get me wrong – I like to be surprised by a book, I like when a book keeps me guessing.  This wasn’t really one of those, though – there was just a lot more that had to happen before they even met in the first place.  I can’t really say a whole lot more without giving some things away.

So, all in all it was a really good story and I’m glad that I read it.  Like I said, it had a great start and a great ending but I personally would have trimmed the middle – just a bit.  Has anyone else read this one?  What did you think?

3.5 out of 5 stars.