As a debut, "Everything is Illuminated" deserves five stars. The story centers around Alex and "the Hero"-also named Jonathan Safran Foer-and their journey to discover the woman who possibly saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. The story takes shape by intertwining the correspondence of Alex and Jonathan as they each attempt to write a story, each ostensibly about the journey.
While Alex's story is playful and light, at times, it carries underneath the strongest cords of emotion in the book. Jonathan's story is sometimes annoying. It focuses on the history of his family in the Ukraine and has a magical reality feel to it. Though clever and generally funny, some of his digressions are too much and do not carry the story forward or add depth to the characters.
As the book progresses, your commitment to the characters and the journey is significant, and leaves you heartbroken by the end.
A note about the reading. This is one of the finest audio book productions I have come across. The readers have done an outstanding job, especially with the voice of Alex. Though I would love to check out Foer's second novel, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," I don?t think that it will read well on audio format as it combines several experimental techniques to tell the story.
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