All the Light We Cannot See, Or (All the Time I Spent Crying Last Month)

Grade: grades can’t express how many feels this book gave me. Okay fine. A+. +. +. +. +. ++++++++. +.

All the Light We Cannot See (5/6/14) by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a Pulitzer Prize winning book, the third one I have (attempted) to read. Small mistakes beside (that’s the editor’s job so), it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. And I don’t if anyone says otherwise I think it’s a masterpiece.

I haven’t read a book like this in a while. A super haunting, touching, FEELS-Y book. A book that kept me up all night and made me neglect my other work so I could just read just a sentence more (which turned into chapter, which turned into section). I was up until 1am most nights frantically flipping pages while calculating the time I had left to sleep. And then after I finished, the book just stayed with me, the lines (especially the horrific ones) repeating in my head. Basically what I’m saying is that do not read this book if you have something important to do in the next month (or possibly year) because you will regret your life choices.

hungover

The book follows two main characters: a girl named Marie-Laure and a boy named Werner. It’s set in WWII and spans the time immediately before the war, the time during the war, the aftermath, and even (maybe spoiler?) reaching to 2014.

Marie-Laure is French (of course, her name is the most typical French name I’ve ever heard). She’s also blind, which makes her chapters 10 times more beautiful since she imagines the world and feels her way through it and notices everything. Her story begins in Paris, and then goes to Saint-Malo, where she flees with her father and lives with her uncle, all the while carrying a stone called the Sea of Flames, an incredibly valuable and incredibly made up diamond.

tumblr_m43ixur7pK1rq535ko1_500

Werner is a genius albino orphan German boy. He joins the Hitler youth and builds transmitters to aid in the effort of the war. Through the book he becomes more and more aware of the death and destruction he’s in the midst of. He gets sent to the front and eventually ends up in Saint-Malo, where he meets Marie-Laure.

The story lines are beautiful, intertwining in sometimes obvious and sometimes surprising ways. But the style of the writing: OH MY GOD. I’ve never wanted to write more like anyone else.

its-so-beautiful-gif

I’m now going to launch into one of my epic metaphors / similes. I have come up with several that I think should go down in quote books. Jk they suck.

Most authors write as if they’re taking a photograph: the focus is on the main characters and everything is blurred in the background. Sometimes characters lack a certain depth and the quality of the photograph seems empty.

Anthony Doerr writes as if he’s painting. Every detail is masterfully included, and with each brush stroke he adds another tiny object to the painting: a lamp, a shell, a car. But although he puts tremendous effort into his tiny details, still his entire painting is harmonious and congruous. The quality of his painting never fails. I’ve never read a book where I can picture the scenes as well as I could in this one. And the characters are constructed beautifully as well (I have a very strong mental image of what Marie-Laure looks like and if anyone tries to tamper with that we will have problems).

CgcYU6I

(I think I’ll refrain from gif usage for the rest of this post because it’d be weird… sorry y’all)

Sometimes, Doerr drifts off into epic descriptions of sceneries or background information. Sometimes he’ll explain where every single character in the book is at the moment, from Werner to his sister to Marie-Laure to her father to her uncle to… yeah, everyone. Sometimes he’ll launch into some beautifully constructed memory that flashes between scenes of the past and scenes of current events. And once he even went into a what-could-have been situation that I can’t even speak of because it just makes me so sad.

And of course I can’t neglect to talk about the title, which is probably the best title in relation with the contents of the book since To Kill a Mockingbird (which, incidentally, is also one of my favorite books). Doerr plays around with the idea of light a lot. The different types of light, especially visible light and radio waves.

Radios play a huge role in the entire book. Werner builds them and loves them and understands how they work. Marie-Laure’s uncle has a huge transmitter in his attic that becomes key to the core of the story. Radios, literally, are the light we cannot see. And of course, there is visible light; especially that of moonlight or no light. There are quite a few descriptions about the sky and the light streaking across the clouds. Additionally, Marie-Laure is blind, but she seems better at picturing the world than the rest of us are. She can imagine all the different types of light.

And (SPOILER, HUGE SPOILER TURN BACK NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW), there’s also the dead and the souls of the dead (as this is a WWII book, there are a lot of deaths). Several characters become extremely traumatized over the course of the book, to the point where they begin to see the dead and see ghosts, some benign and some vengeful; they travel like light does, undisturbed by everything. Towards the end, Marie-Laure contemplates that the dead could be traveling through the air just like radio waves, the light we cannot see. And so everyone and everything that’s gone isn’t actually gone.

Of course, “light” could also be seen metaphorically as truth or hope. Werner is often blinded by himself, even though he has rays of truths, “lights,” like his sister or his best friend. And each character in the book maintains hope within themselves, even though eventually they almost all descend into hopelessness, unable to see the light anymore.

But in Doerr’s book we come across one of those rare scenarios where the literal meaning is as beautiful or possibly even more beautiful than the metaphorical meaning. The radios, the dead, the truths, our faded hopes: it’s all the light we cannot see.

The Weekly Suggestion #5

I haven’t done this in ages! As usual. Let’s begin.

giphy

Movie: The Dark Knight Trilogy. I have been mostly or slightly biased towards Marvel until I watched this trilogy. Now I love DC and Marvel equally. The movie was dark, action-packed, and overall fulfilling to the max. I just don’t understand why they decided to recast Batman. Especially with Ben Affleck! Of all people! Also DC’s record of who is in the main DC Cinematic Universe is (dare I say it) way more complicated than Marvel’s. None of the TV shows are in the Cinematic Universe (apparently they have a universe of their own), and The Dark Knight Trilogy isn’t either, so DC has to recast the Flash and Batman… and possibly Oliver Queen at some future time. Sounds fun.

TV Show: Orange is the New Black. I’ve only gotten through something like the first seven episodes, but I can already tell you that this show has the most diverse group of characters I’ve ever seen (in a live-action show, because The Legend of Korra does a fantastic job as well), featuring different races (I’d like to see more Asian people), sexualities, genders, religions, etc. If only Piper would admit that she’s bisexual.

Book: All the Light We Cannot See. As per usual, Grace has only gotten through the first 50 or so pages of this book. Nevertheless, I can already tell you that this book is gorgeously written. It’s a story set in WWII and told through the eyes of two children (I mean, at the end they’re young adults). It may sound like the Book Thief but they’re pretty much nothing alike.

Song: Mr. Brightside. A 2000s-but-definitely-already classic song. I’ve gotten obsessed with it recently. It’s definitely worth your time to listen to it about 1000000 times on repeat. Like I have. Because I’ve been indoors for 72 hours straight doing nothing.

So next week I’m off to China to visit the fam. If you’ve never been to China, then you’re probably jealous of me. If you’ve been to China then you probably feel sorry for me. I’d be excited except I have this horrible cold so I’m not particularly excited for this trip. Anyways, I won’t be blogging next week but I’ll see you the week after!

Bye y’all!

large

Looking for Antarctica… I mean, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Grade: A-

I mentioned this book in a Weekly Suggestion here. But yeah, I’ll be totally honest with you when I wrote that weekly suggestion I had only gotten 15 pages into the book. Also I accidentally skipped the first page which I didn’t realize until I was on page 50.

ANYWAYS…

As I mentioned in my Weekly Suggestion, this book is an epistolary, or a book that’s comprised of letters. It’s not just that, though. The narrator also tells her side of the story while interweaving the letters and emails and whatnot.

tumblr_n9zr3k4a7w1tq4of6o1_500

The book chronicles a tale of Bee, her tragically misunderstood mother Bernadette, her rich and smart but completely personality-less father, and a bunch of annoying mothers. Throughout the book, layers and layers of stories are revealed; everyone has a different perspective, lies are told, misunderstandings happen, DISASTER!

Note to the world: misunderstandings are the cause of like, a lot of dramatic things. *Cough* French Revolution.

arrested-development-gob-huge-tiny-mistake-cabin-show-season-3

Okay back to the story.

Bernadette Fox is an agoraphobic woman (relatable) who is generally terrified of people (also relatable) and is completely haunted by a past event (also relatable) only referred to as “That Horrible Thing” until it is finally described later. Her unwillingness to go outside and bond with people ultimately causes the aforementioned misunderstandings to happen, building in a climax that is kind of ruined by the title of the book. Yep, she disappears.

2h6gb9f-1

Her daughter, Bee, has to figure out what happened to her mother (because her father was way too busy working at Microsoft on this insanely improbable project to even care) by collecting all the letters and emails and whatnot that make up this book.

The book does an amazing job at portraying how dumb and annoying and vapid people can be. It also does an amazing job at portraying the complexity of humans, which I realize kind of goes against my previous sentence. Humans are all annoying and stupid sure, but they’re also good. Or at least they have the capacity to be surprisingly okay. #JohnLockeandJohnlockSupporter

tumblr_inline_n08bzd6kZh1rvpdg2

Before I get to the rest of my nice critiques, here are a couple of things that annoyed me and therefore dropped this book’s grade to an A-. First of all, why did the Asian character have to be the totally sexually proactive one… if you’ve never heard of that stereotype have fun googling. Second, the Microsoft project that Bee’s father was working on (briefly mentioned earlier) is essentially impossible. Also the outcome of the project was rather frustrating. Third, I felt as if the buildup of the story was extremely rich and intense, but the ending was rather rushed and disappointing.

1390835368_taylor_lost

But okay. There’s a reason why this book was in the A zone instead of the B or the C or (god forbid) the D zone. And as y’all know (or will know) I judge things by several criteria: how much emotion the thing produced from me (laughed a lot, so check), general plot line (great buildup, disappointingly fast climax), totally awesomely deep characters with a lot of development (CHECK x100), and stuff that I learned.

So now (surprise surprise) there’s going to be a list. Here’s the list of the TOP 4 THINGS I LEARNED FROM WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?

post-27734-I-just-learned-something-today-WbK7

1) Spend more time with your family. Connect with them so they never feel lonely. Get to know them so that you understand them. Or so that (vague spoiler!) you never accidentally accuse them for some terrible thing and then completely ruin their life. And the rest of your family’s life. And also so you don’t go completely insane.

2) Get to know people better. This pertains to your family and also everyone else in the universe. People you hate could end up being awesome (or, I mean, they could still end up being awful, in which case yay you were right). Or maybe, getting to know people better could cause you to change.

giphy

3) Find something that you believe in and don’t be a sheep. The book happened to contain a lot of satire about religion. Crazy Jesus freaks, hypocritical Christian ladies – the whole 9 yards. Throughout the book, some people give up faith (after realizing how sheeplike they were being), some people accept a sort of faith, some people have a reawakening of faith, etc. Personally, I’m agnostic, but who am I to stop you if you have some sort of spiritual awakening or… spiritual sleepening?

4) Do what you love. Don’t give up on it because people bring you down or you don’t believe in yourself anymore. The things you love stop you from going crazy.

tumblr_m6efq6fpzr1qzqdem

Alright that ended on a super deep note. Well, BYE!

PS: I won’t be here for 3 weeks but I’ll still try to post. I’ll be posting from my phone though, so no gifs. Sorry y’all if you love my gifs. Yay for y’all who hate my gifs.

The Weekly Suggestion… #4?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these amirite? Well, let’s begin.

tumblr_inline_nm56fv6fDe1s23mk9

Movie: The Lord of the Rings. No, I have not finished the books. YES, I AM AWARE THE BOOKS ARE GREAT. But watch the movies anyways. It’s a classic and LOTR > Hobbit any day (fight me).

TV Show: Agents of SHIELD. Apparently it’s going to be very related to the greater MCU. I’m only 10 minutes into it and SPOILER ALERT: PHIL COULSON IS ALIVE! Does anyone die in Marvel? Oh yeah. Captain America Civil War -_-

Book: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It’s an epistolary, which means (for those of you who are not educated in the fine arts of English… or in my case, googling) it’s a novel written with a bunch of letters and documents. I mean, since it’s based in modern day there are emails and stuff. And there’s some non-letter narrative in there too. But whatever. IT’S FUNNY. READ IT.

Song: Flightless Bird, American Mouth. Even its use in the Twilight Saga will NEVER DETER MY LOVE FOR THE SONG! The lyrics make absolutely no sense… aka it’s great.

Oh yes, and if you haven’t seen Taylor Swift’s new music video, watch it here. I mean, it’s highly unlikely that you’re not one of the 24,000,000 views (I wonder what the probability is…), but it’s worth a rewatch anyways.

K BYE

_1361800981

Pride and Prejudice and Adaptions

Grade: A

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that this line is probably one of the most well known in all literature.

talk-about-your-truth-universally-acknowledged-o

Aaah, the classics. Reading one makes you want to sit down in bed with a cup of tea on a window ledge while the rain comes down. OR sit in the middle of a field when the temperature is exactly 70 degrees fahrenheit with a picnic.

OR read it like me when you’re sneezing and coughing and lying with your only friends the water bottles and the tissues.

Yes it’s spring. Yes I didn’t get sick all winter. YES I’M SICK NOW.

giphy

A couple of warnings before you might think about attempting to read this book. It is not for the faint-hearted: the sentences are super long and it’s like trying to translate Latin where the noun and the verb are basically 3 lines apart. Also you’ll begin to ship the characters hardcore. And if you’ve read it don’t deny that you haven’t shipped the characters. DON’T DENY IT

Anyways, enough warnings. LET’S GET TO THE REVIEW.

tumblr_mn2lmfYDvd1qfzv7ao1_500

Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth (Lizzy, Lizzie, Eliza, whatever) Bennet, who is a witty and relatively forward young lady of the 1800s in England. She is the second daughter in a very, very dysfunctional family with her 4 sisters as well as her two incredibly-bad-at-parenting parents.

Lizzy’s older sister, Jane Bennet, is the kindest soul on the planet – she literally loves everyone and can’t bear to think badly of anyone (it’s almost sickening). Lizzy’s three younger sisters are Mary, Kitty, and Lydia, who get progressively crazier as the age decreases. Mary is a stuck up girl who attempts to do everything and be wise and fails rather miserably. Kitty is weak-minded and follows Lydia’s crazy tramping. And Lydia… Between chasing after soldiers and screaming rudely at rich dudes I’m not sure if there’s anything other than cotton balls in her brain.

giphy-1

(^kinda irrelevant gif but it’s my favorite gif of all time so whatever)

Lizzy’s mother is basically the older version of Lydia: foolish, gossipy, and only focused on getting her daughters married. Lizzy’s father is a truly terrible husband who basically hates all social customs and slows down the process of getting his daughters married off simply because he likes reading more than social events. #parenting101

Anyhow, the story begins with a rich young SINGLE man named Bingley who comes into the neighborhood where the Bennets live, causing a giant freakout because OH MY GAWD IT’S A RICH HANDSOME YOUNG MAN LET’S POUNCE ON HIM AND GET HIM TO MARRY OUR DAUGHTERS EEEEEEE.

Raining-men

I’m not even kidding that’s basically how it goes down. Kind of. Not really. Whatever.

Anyways, Bingley and the Bennets attend this one dance (I forget who the host is) and Bingley brings his friend Darcy. Bingley and Jane really hit it off from the beginning, while Darcy completely offends Lizzy and causes Lizzy to hate him immensely.

Darcy eventually falls in love with Lizzy (good job man), and he tries to woo her. However, Lizzy still completely hates Darcy so it’s a giant mess. Oh yeah, she also gets like 3 other suitors in the meantime (all of which are either stupid or terrible people).

tumblr_mmgj89nJow1r8q992o1_500

MY THOUGHTS TIME!

Pride and Prejudice is a witty and hilarious book. It’s one of those books that you’ll really enjoy reading while looking like a literary BOSS at the same time. There are light and funny parts where you’ll laugh out loud (unless you’re dead inside), and then there are parts that are deeply profound. The main characters in the book, Lizzy and Darcy, both undergo intense changes where they are forced to confront their flaws of pride and especially prejudice (haha see? see? the title is relevant).

In a way, this discovery of the deep-rooted and flawed nature of prejudice is similar to the lesson of “imagining others complexly” in Paper Towns (you can read my review on it here). Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy due to a single phrase that he muttered causes her to be incredibly blind in her judgement of him, his actions, his family, and his relations.

tumblr_m0t5fzyey91qh5egvo1_250

Elizabeth begins to imagine Darcy as a one-sided villainous character and (quite hilariously) misinterprets everything that he says and does. However, eventually Elizabeth realizes how mistaken she was about everyone and everything, and her belief gets shaken.

tumblr_inline_mpyce3FNW01qz4rgp

Prejudice is dangerous – it clouds our judgment and perception. It hurts us and the people around us. Lizzy’s prejudice only affected a small number of people, but what happens when prejudice goes global? Well…

*cough* racism *cough* sexism *cough* classicism *cough*

Good books teach you a lesson. Great books make you discover yourself. The best books help you discover yourself AND change yourself to benefit others. TAKE THE LESSON THAT PRIDE AND PREJUDICE GIVES US.

giphy-2

And now it’s time for my favorite adaptation of the book for people too lazy to read but who still want the nuances and wittiness of the book and who are okay with binge-watching for 24 hours… whew that was a long run-on sentence.

THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES!

lizzie-party

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are a web series on YouTube which makes Pride and Prejudice into a modern vlog-style adaptation. You’re probably like yeah, yeah, you probably only like it because it’s YouTube but LET ME TELL YOU A THING IT’S AMAZING.

First of all, the web series stays incredibly true to the book: I would go as far as to say it probably stays truer to the book than the 2005 movie (although probably not the 1995 TV series). Second of all, the actors are amazing and essentially flawless. Third, some of the more minor characters get fleshed out a lot more (which is actually very interesting FYI).

UGH it’s just perfect.

Now go forth and read or watch whatever you want.

tumblr_static_tumblr_ml0alrkghh1qmzky5o1_500

Paper Towns: You’re Paper, I’m Paper… Paper Paper Paper

In honor of the trailer that spoiled the book for me (seen above), here is a review for Paper Towns (finally, a book review!)

This post is coming to you in three parts. Part 1: a letter to books. Part 2: a confession. Part 3: the actual review.

Wow this is starting to sound suspiciously like a vlogbrothers video.

john-green-s-happy-dance-o

If you’re uninterested in parts 1 and 2 just skip to part 3 🙂

Part 1: a letter to books.

Dear books,

There’s nothing better than you.

Sure it’s fun to binge watch TV shows and stare at the screen mindlessly while laughing your head off at a comedy, or maybe feeling a feeling of epic awesomeness as your favorite character kicks ass.

It’s nice to watch a movie, which is basically a 2 hour compression of a story in the life.

However, a TV show can hardly make you think, especially after 5 hours of staring at the screen and slowly draining your computer battery as you descend into the other world ADMIT IT WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE.

tumblr_m72z9qc91G1r1069oo1_500

A movie often goes too fast for you to enjoy every specific detail or every amazing scene. (However, this does not mean a movie is for people too lazy to read. Movies can be analyzed as thoroughly as books can be. Books can be sped through as fast as movies – trust me when I was younger I only read the second half of the second page. Don’t ask me how it worked.)

But a book. You think. You notice everything (if you read carefully). You imagine. It’s the full experience.

I LOVE YOU BOOKS! NEVER CHANGE!

Part 2: a confession

I think I may have enjoyed Paper Towns more than The Fault in Our Stars.

tumblr_inline_nedzq0sMLH1rk2q68

(Disclaimer: it may be because I just finished Paper Towns and I read TFIOS ages ago. However, other reasons are stated below)

I’ll admit, I’m the kind of person who likes to get fed obvious lessons. I literally absorb ideas like a sponge: honestly, if I hadn’t read Harry Potter when I was younger I have no idea how I would’ve dealt with YA fiction like Twilight. Maybe I would’ve believed that my life goal was to marry a vampire (I sincerely hope not). Who knows.

Anyhow, The Fault in Our Stars didn’t really give me a lesson with too much impact. On the other hand, Paper Towns enforced the idea to, as John and Hank Green put it, “imagine others complexly.”

tumblr_lipj3fLOJA1qzbl7f

You only get the full experience of this idea if you read the book… So read it. I’ll also write my ideas in the review below… I mean if any of you are interested (I would be extremely flattered if you were).

Part 3: the actual review

Quentin Jacobsen, aka Q, is a senior. He has loved Margo Roth Speigelman, a fantastically mysterious girl who also happens to be his neighbor, for all his life. When they were young, they were best friends. However, as time went by, they split apart: Q becomes an unpopular band geek and Margo becomes the queen bee of the school. Aka all my relationships ever.

Jk I’ve never had a relationship. Fooled you there didn’t I? PSYCH!

tumblr_mt143pzgN01shji0no1_500

One night, Margo appears at Quentin’s window and brings him on the adventure of his lifetime. It’s basically every teenager’s daydream: to be shepherded away by the love of your life. Just imagine the Doctor or someone coming through your window and promising you the adventure of your lifetime. Actually I might just scream and punch him so hard he flies back to Gallifrey… He actually might be happy about that.

ANYWAYS

The next day Margo disappears, but she leaves a bunch of clues, a “trail of breadcrumbs,” leading Q on a quest to find Margo: but in his journey he discovers that he’s finding Margo in a different way – the Margo everyone knew wasn’t the “real Margo.” Q’s quest becomes one to both find Margo physically, as well as the real Margo behind her façade… Or rather, the Margo behind his fantasies.

tumblr_m55zl5802K1r00g1wo1_500

The next part is only for people who’ve finished the book. But I mean, at this point, I’m probably the last teenager who hadn’t read Paper Towns.

Each character in the book realizes the danger of not imagining people through a “window” but rather through a “mirror”; simply put, not imagining people as people.

Q’s parents, being therapists, probably realized somehow through their work. Radar realizes when he and Q are playing That Guy Is a Gigolo. Ben, when he begins to date Lacey. Margo, when she goes on her adventure with Q. And of course, Q, through his journey to find Margo.

They all realize the danger of both downgrading other people, but also, as people often forget, the opposite end of the spectrum: creating a “god” out of someone.

Writing this book from first person perspective also enforces the idea of imagining someone else complexly; it’s quite brilliant that John Green chose to write the book from Q’s point of view rather than a third person. Just as Walt Whitman became other people in Leaves of Grass, so does the reader become Q.

tumblr_mzjdtbelUk1r3m40zo6_250

AND NOW PART 3.5: SOME DEEPLY PROFOUND QUOTES FROM PAPER TOWNS THAT EVERYONE SHOULD ABSORB AND LIVE BY:

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

“A Margo for each of us – and each more mirror than window.”

“Before he was this minor figure in the drama of my life, he was – you know, the central figure in the drama of his own life.”

Extrapolate what you will out of these quotes, and, you know, decide whether you want to live by their lessons or not 🙂

P.S. If you’re STILL hating on Cara Delevigne for being cast as Margo please grab yourself a life from the nearest department store. She’s a lovely person who’s been in acting roles before so would you PLEASE give her a chance. Also, if you’re skeptical because she’s a high class posh model or something, or maybe because you think she’s too perfect and you’re totally jealous, I IMPLORE YOU: take John Green’s lesson into heart. Imagine her complexly.

giphy

The Weekly Suggestion #3

Let-Go-Already-Face

Movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s not supposed to be a horror movie but it scared me out of my wits. I’ll never trust Siri again. Also somehow after watching the movie I found myself reading about the Soyuz 11 accident and let me tell you that is not something I wanted to know.

TV show: Fresh Off the Boat. I thought it would be racist but it was actually hilariously accurate. A bit overdone, but still accurate.

Book: Caddie Woodlawn. If you like books that don’t really have a plot line. Actually it’s kind of like Boyhood in book form come to think of it.

Song: Clementine by Sarah Jaffe. If you like Indie pop/folk music. Which I do 🙂

tumblr_lst2toVFub1r3v6f2o1_500