Cityscape: there’s the city of Saint-Malo on the front!
I originally had this as a four star novel, but I’ve knocked it down to three stars due to Doerr’s use of short, different-POV chapters to generate suspense, which I’ve come to realize it’s one of my least favorite mechanisms to generate suspense and tension. And in a book like this–where we are in literal Nazi occupied France, late stages of war–it’s almost unnecessary. But it does let you elongate smaller sections of action into more chapters.
Someone critiqued this book as being WW2, the PG-13 edition. Most of the violence happens off screen/off stage, our characters never have to deal with truly harrowing ethical choices, the finale is tied up with a bow. I don’t know that I agree–trauma touches every person differently. Grading experiences by some sort of objective scale negates the truth of the matter, which is that to each their own. For Marie-Laure, this experience of WW2 is likely to be the most traumatic incident in her life, and she’d probably rank it an R.
At the end of the day, this is a well written tale recounting the mundane horrors of a small town that was irrevocably changed because of Nazis. It doesn’t try to be anything more, and it doesn’t need to be. Bizarre as it sounds, it made for a nice change of pace and diversification for a wide spectrum of reading.