Werner lives in Germany and is an orphan along with his sister near a mining town. He loves taking apart radios and transistors and basically learning all he can on his own about science and electronics. He must leave his sister, though, as war breaks out, and he's accepted into the Hitler's Youth program.
Marie-Laure lives in France. We see her go blind at a very young age and how her father creates a miniature town for Marie-Laure. Her world is one she can't see but can feel.
We see their time before the war and when war breaks out and eventually the events that bring these two people together.
I really enjoyed the story from the views of these characters. We see how Werner struggles to keep his humanity and yet how he can be apart of all Germany stood for during the war.
But Doerr threw in a third character...an ancient mysterious jewel and a German geologist going to the ends of the earth to find it. It felt a little hokey to me. I think the story would have been a lot stronger without this little magical and superstitious sidetrack.
I also had a hard time following the way the timelines flowed. We didn't stick with any one character too long and thus I felt it disjointed my reading flow.
It's beautifully written and offers a unique look of World War II through Werner's and Marie-Laure's eyes but it just didn't quite flow together for me. It took me a very long time to read this. It's worth a read, of course, but it wasn't my favorite.
“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.”