Blackout by Connie Willis wasn't on my radar screen until a friend told me I should read All Clear. It only took me about 30 pages of All Clear to realize that I was in the middle of a story, so it was off to the library to get to the beginning of the story. Let me preface this by saying I've never read any of Connie Willis's work, so I can't review this from the angle of her prior novels and stories, which sound like they are very well liked by others.
With Blackout, I found myself thrown deep into the events of World War II England via time-travel, and Willis does an excellent job on the details. The story primarily revolves around three historians from Oxford in 2060 traveling back in time to observe certain events surrounding WWII, and the possibility that their drop points may not be working any longer in order for them to return. They are relatively well prepared for their trips to England, in that they've memorized reported bombings and destroyed locations so they can avoid being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But as their scheduled end dates pass without a way back to 2060, they are at the mercy of the events surrounding them. They also struggle with the uncertainty of whether they've changed history by their interactions with others.
I'm torn on whether I liked the book or not. On the "not" side, I had a bit of a clue that this would be a part 1 of 2 book, but not that it would end as abruptly as it did. This is a 500 page book that just flat out stops at the end of a chapter with no warning. If I hadn't known (or already had) the follow-up, I'd have been very upset for spending that much time with no resolution. The story also started off slow, and the questions as to why slippage was occurring and why the drops were broken were left completely unanswered. Finally, her description of 2060 seemed rather archaic. It felt like it was still 1944, and the only advanced technology was time travel.
On the positive side, the events, surroundings, and interactions are well detailed, and you do feel like you are right there. Once the action starts picking up, I was much more into the story, and the questions about how they may or may not affect history by their actions do lead to a bit of "but what if..." pondering. And given that I have All Clear to start right on the heels of finishing Blackout, I'm not quite as miffed over the way this ended.
All things considered, I probably view Blackout as "average", knowing that I may feel differently once I finish All Clear. If you read/liked her previous work, you will also have a different take since this is my first exposure to her. But based on what I've read so far and the reviews by others, I am interested in reading some of her previous work...
England, summer of 1945. England, 2060. Time travel has been a reality for a couple of decades, and three young historians are getting set to study England's heroic defiance of Hitler in the early stages of WWII. Merope, contemp name Eileen, is observing the effects of children evacuated from London to the countryside, while Michael, posing as an American correspondent, will be studying instances of bravery at Dover during the evacuation of Dunkirk. Polly, whose real name is no anachronism, … more
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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