Individuals who like moody, depressing literature that deals endlessly with details of horrible infections and loss of loved ones
Jim Butcher's Skin Game
Does a good job with the emotional aspects. Obviously there are more problems with emulating male voices. Some voices were identical but the story context kept them separated.
Depression at the amount of pain and loss. Irritation that the author felt it necessary to detail agonizing deaths and illness over and over. Distress that everyone loses. The heroine is rescued but at the expense of nearly killing her aged mentor and damage to her own psyche.
Not a book nor an author that I ever wish to read or listen to again. Disappointed the blurb describing the book didn't give adequate warning of the bleakness of the novel. Would not have purchased if the description had been more accurate.
Different, engaging, quirky
nursing the ill
bringing the plague to life
I accidentally downloaded this one, go figure. Turns out to be a really good book. Totally apocalyptic. (quote from the book)
Writing reviews is work. Therefore, I need to be really happy or really unhappy with a book to write one.
I found Connie Willis because Bellflower was on sale; moved on to To Say Nothing of the Dog - enjoying them both very much - they are definitely in my "2nd listen" category mainly because of their sharp descriptions and quirky characters.
Blackout and All Clear had several interesting characters, suspenseful situations, and a sense of being well-researched which made up for them being somewhat repetitious and a bit too long.
As to Doomsday Book, as I said, go find Mr. Neilson's review. Or trust me and don't waste your credit.
In a not to distant feature historians travel to the past to report first hand accounts of history. Both future and past settings are in Oxford, England. Kivrin Engle is the protagonist, a historian traveling to the 14th century. Her trip suffers a fateful "time-slip", and buth future and as past experience influenza outbreak, as Kivrin's mentor Mr Dunworthy struggles to locate Kivrin.
This novel can be long winded at times, but author Connie Willis needs the time to build the reader's understanding of historic England and time travel. A long book, but well worth the read, and/or listen.
This story will be more entertaining if you have some knowledge of the geography and history of Oxford; some light reading on Wikipedia will bring you up to speed.
Note: the title "Doomsday Book" is related to the 11th century manuscript compiled at the order of William the Conqueror with the goal of reacording what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock, and what it was worth.
Long commute = Lots of time for audiobooks
Here's the thing about Connie Willis's books: they move slooooowly. The reviewers who are knocking the book for that fact aren't wrong. And it's repetitive. You get a lot of internal dialogue from characters who fixate on the same details over and over again. That doesn't always make for complex characters, and sometimes that lack of character development is odd, if not frustrating.
I really liked this book anyway, and I think you might too. Or you might not. Here's why.
1. Time Travel. Obviously, this is not a time travel story for the futuristic sci-fi lover. This is a time travel story for the history/historical fiction lover. The technology in the book is kind of lame. It basically screams "I was written in 1993!" (which, you know, it was). Personally, I was able to suspend disbelief enough to just roll along with the lame tech, but I can see how many sci-fi lovers wouldn't be able to get past that.
2. History. As I've said, this is a book for history lovers. One thing Connie Willis always seems to do well, in my experience, is completely immerse her readers in a time and place in the past. She clearly does her research, and that's probably my favorite thing about her books. This attention to historical detail is wonderful, and had me constantly pausing the audio book to do quick searches on various historical details to learn more. Throughout the book, I had this very real sense of the fear and confusion and outright despair that characterized the Middle Ages - that the world seemed to be ending and no one could understand why.
And yes, of course, it's a sad book. Do not pick up a book about the bubonic plague if you are looking for a lighthearted romp through history. Some reviewers appear to have been surprised by how sad a book about the Black Death turned out to be. So never let it be said that you weren't warned: books about that time half of Europe died are sad (see also water: it's so wet!). Moving on.
3. Adventures in Postsecondary Education. One of the less-appreciated aspects of this book is the comically realistic depiction of the bureaucratic and administrative hurdles inherent to a large university. I really enjoyed watching the academic turf wars and backbiting unfold, preventing Mr. Dunworthy from being able to help Kivrin, who is, all the while, wasting away in the Middle Ages. I'm not sure if that was intended to be dark humor, but it worked for me.
Overall, I really liked this book and ended up reading the other 3 books in the Oxford Time Travel Series after this one. That said, it's a serious time investment, so hopefully this review helps you decide if this book sounds like your cup of tea.
I decided listening to Doomsday Book when I learned that "To Say Nothing of the Dog" -which I listened first and loved- was book number 2 in Willis' Oxford Time Travel series.
I wanted to read more from the author and maybe get to know a bit better the series universe. Alas, "Doomsday Book" doesn't have anything I liked from "To Say...", which is: memorable characters, humor, and scene tension.
Instead, Doomsday Book is a long story (way too long) filled with repetitive dialog spoken by uninteresting characters and a poor sci-fi setting for a plot leading nowhere.
When I say uninteresting characters, I'm not saying they're plain. Willis does an excellent job depicting a wide variety of personalities, motifs and communication styles. You can perfectly picture each of the characters in the novel and they will all have a special uniqueness to them. The flaw resides in that the reader (or listener) cannot identify with any of them, or care about them when bad stuff happens. You will simply not get engaged with the characters, not even with the heroine (if you can call Kivrin that).
Talking about Kivrin, you will never understand why travelling to the middle ages was so important to her. And throughout the story she never evolves... except at the very end when, for some reason, Willis makes her act so out of character that you feel a bit betrayed.
The story itself is not bad; it's just too long and repetitive and it really does not deliver any satisfaction when you're finally done with it. Also, the sci-fi side of the novel is really soft/loose. There is no explanation for the time travel mechanics, rules or "paradoxes", only statements for them (like when a character tells someone else "they're not rules, they're paradoxes. We couldn't break them if we wanted")... that's about the deepest it gets.
The performance was pretty good. I enjoyed listening to Sterlin's different voices and intonations (even if other reviewers are right about American accent not correctly pulled out). I was amused at her ability to interpret kids and old people; and was surprised at how male characters sounded great too. Her latin is not good though.
In brief... I don't recommend this to sci-fi or adventure lovers. Maybe only to non-fiction history lovers. On the other side, if you're looking for a good laugh with a bit of time travel, go for Book 2.
Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction...take me away!
I didn't start listening to this series at the beginning which may be why my rating isn't a bit higher. I enjoy the time travel premise very much and enjoyed the parallel plague stories.
Dragged on a bit for me, but I will listen to the rest of the series.
I am more than midway through this book, and while it is a bit unfair to judge until the end, I felt the need to input my review.
The narrator does an excellent job at creating the characters voices and I haven't noticed a slip between characters - which does help carry the story along.
The beginning of the book is a little dull, but as with all books of this size the premise and character history are important enough to merit this. I like the way the author does a comparative of the middle ages people reacting against the plague and modern humans reacting to an epidemic of influenza. The differences in behavior are remarkably similar - even with modern knowledge of germs, vaccines, anti-virals etc. People tend to do the same exact thing. The only thing that breaks the suspension of disbelief for the future present in the book is the complete lack of internet, cell phones or other sophisticated computer electronics. I realize that this was written just as the internet was being born but it does take some getting used to being that our world is absolutely flooded with those things (cell phones, tablets, computers, consoles etc). Half of the characters are running about trying to call each other using land lines (no cell phones?) or get hard-copies of information (email?), when even in 1992 it wasn't that difficult (faxes were at least present and I know that some colleges had closed circuit LAN even without internet, plus cells were around but blockier). But beyond those few points it isn't too bad and the descriptions of some of the characters is beyond charming. The young boy is the funniest and there are some really good bits that show what a trooper he is in the midst of confusion.
It is a good listen/read and it does a good job enveloping the reader into each time period.
Very well written and performed. Gritty. I felt like I was actually there and that the time travel was really possible. After reviewing the further books in the series though, I think I will stop at this one. Not much into wartime stories.
I doubt it
The story itself was interesting, but the writing was slow and some of the characters repeated things so often it was annoying. A futuristic time when people can travel back to a time as a historian is an interesting idea. the narration did match the pace of the story. the story just didn't grab my interest until almost the last 3/4 of the book.