Back in May 2014 I had a short but intense World War II phase. Most of things I read and watched were set during that period and I researched it a ton. I was just really obsessed. That was when I read books like Atonement and Code Name Verity. And after almost not touching the subject in the last two years (unless you count that Animorphs book), I read A Separate Peace during the winter. I can’t really vocalize why I disliked the novel (which is why it is not in this round-up) but it left me with a craving for more WWII fiction. These past weeks I read a total of three books about it (aside from watching a bunch of movies). One of them is not like the others. Also there was a lot of crying.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
I feel kind of weird “reviewing” a classic. A lot has been said before. Reading it, I could see why it’s a classic (even if it has more aliens than your usual one). Vonnegut has a really tight grip on the tone to the point that it becomes haunting. The imagery can range from unpleasant to beautiful. The most painfully real book that has time travel on it. This book was able to bring me to tears with a single phrase, you know the one.
Author: Kristin Hannah
What made me love this novel were the characters. At the start of the novel, I kind of thought the characters were kind of flat which made seeing these characters grow and change even more rewarding. It builds up slowly and steadily until you can’t stop.
This book is all about ladies, about sisterhood. It treats Vianne’s story in a small French village with the same respect as Isabelle’s heroism in the resistance through the alternating point-of-views. And not just them, it portrays the lives and bravery of many women, each in her own unique way, from Sophie to Anouk to Rachel. If you’re up for complex female relationships, I’d definitely recommend this one, especially since so many novels about WWII focus on the men.
The love story felt a bit forced in my opinion but with everything else that was going on I did not mind one bit. Also Vianne keeping that thing secret at the end did bother me a lot. I understand why that particular character chose to do that, but I hate that trope.
I also ended up crying a lot in this one, because it’s just a beautiful story.
All the Light You Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
The prose of this book is amazing. There were just some passages in which I couldn’t stop crying because of how beautifully written they were. It’s a very descriptive book with a lot of details and research behind it. It’s definitely not a book you can just speed through all the way to the end. It focuses a lot on atmosphere and that it does well.
What I loved most about this book was its structure, though. All the tension it creates through the flashforwards from the very start that made just want to keep reading. Even though the plot moved slowly, I just flew it through thanks to the short alternating chapters between the different point-of-view characters in the first three fourths.
Ultimately, its slow, masterful build up, which I adored, caused the novel’s downfall for me. The payoff felt way too easy after all that tension. So the ending fell flat for me. I cried and all but I wasn’t left satisfied. Tragic or not, it didn’t fit quite right. I also didn’t like how distant the characters felt. They weren’t flat, but the way they were portrayed didn’t make me become invested in them.