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.
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.
Yes and no. I found some of the writing very repetitious, and knew the answers long before they were given, but there were characters worth seeing through the journey, and the concept is really intriguing.
Kivrin's journey, and discovery of true beauty and true horror.
Kivrin and Dunworthy
I would still edit this story, but yes.
In the middle of good audiobooks.
Pleasing voice and character voices.
We'll get it right… next time.
I am in love with James Alexander Malcom Mackenze Frazer.
just couldn't get behind the characters. I feel when someone get sick but I don't want to spend hours listening to one person after another getting ill and then the death. Not for me.
Picked this book up due to Hugo and Nebula awards. The story's concept is brilliant and the author does a great job explaining the world and describing the situation from the main characters. It could just be my perspective, but the first 17 hours of the book seem to drag on as she builds on the setting. There's an event that happens and everything comes together as you ride out the rest of the book. The last 9 hours of the book makes this a classic, but you could almost skip through the first 17 with a paragraph worth of summarization.