I imagine that if you don't know Connie Willis Historians and their particular form of time travel you may have something of a hard time with this book and it's second part "All Clear". I enjoy CW's time travel books as historical novels just as much as I enjoy them as science fiction books. Her portrayals of whichever periods her Historians are visiting are magnificent. But if you want to really enjoy her time-travel books I'd say read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" first because that one will help you better understand her whole time travel concept --it is also a great book, of course and laugh-out-loud funny-- I don't think she explains time travel much in "Blackout" and "All Clear". I read a review where someone is puzzled by Polly's desperate search for a black skirt and someone else wonders about the frequent mention of the drop and I can see how those things don't quite seem important if you don't know CW's approach to time travel and history. But if you do, oh if you do, how very much sense it all makes, how very important those things are and how well you enjoy it all. When you are done with "All Clear", make sure to read "Firewatch" a short story where we meet Mr. Bartholomew in the flesh! and we re-encounter Kivrin! She's doing well. I love this woman's work, she's given me many hours of happiness. I am sure there is a special place reserved for her in Cori Celesti.
Cool concept and it seems like it was well researched but I kept waiting to get to know the characters. The only thing the time travelers ever thought about was how to get back home. No matter what was going on around them or how much people tried to connect with them, they were like robots. Perhaps this author should collaborate with another author who is better at developing characters. There is so much potential. I also couldn't believe how the book ended without an ending at all. I will not buy the second book for two reasons. First, I can't take another book of flat characters. Second I feel like I was manipulated. Its like one book was split in half so I would have to pay twice as much to get a story with an ending. Most books that have sequels, still have their own ending (i.e. resolution). This was very strange.
I strongly agree with other reviewers who've pointed out that there is no ending. This isn't so much a book as it is Volume 1 of a book. And really even volumes tend to end with more resolution than this does.
Aside from the lack of ending, there was another irritation. Most of the text was a play on that universal dream of having to get somewhere or accomplish something but meeting constant obstacles. I swear that about a quarter of the book was a woman trying to find a black skirt to replace her blue one. And just how many times did the author mention "getting to the drop"? It made one feel as though the author may have just been learning the copy/paste function and was anxious to practice.
Great stuff, until I got to the end; it just sort of stops and leaves you wondering what happens next… After a quick bit of research I found out that it is part of a two book series. Had I known, I might have waited until the second book comes out so I could have listened to them one after the other. I enjoyed it and can’t wait for “All Clear” which is due late 2010.
Connie Willis delivers another fabulous book. Part of her charm is that her books are written in a sort of Victorian style. She is the most decorated Sci/fi fantasy writer of all time. Other quality Fantasy writers like Neil Gaiman have similar styles. If you are looking for a space cowboy traditonal sci-fi novel then you will be disappointed. If you hate her style that is too bad for you. However, the Nebula and Hugo award panel disagree. This one may not win best novel of the year but it is worth listening to or actually reading.
It is engrossing. Only bad thing about it is that I have to wait until Fall fot the next half.
OK, so I didn't read the publishers summary and didn't realize that it was the first part of a two part novel. I had to replay the last chapter to make sure I hadn't skipped some major part of the story. Having said that, I had read that the book wasn't really about time travel so much as the characters of war ravaged England and how their daily lives were so dramatically affected by the war. Some of the situations and characters were repetitious, but I still look forward to hearing the second part.
I don't like having to wait so long for the release of the second part. I hope I remember the plot and characters eight months later.
I quit listening after an hour or so. The story reputedly revolves around time-traveling historians going back to study key events during WWII. Maybe it gets there. But the bulk of the story in the beginning is about the historians' scheduling troubles and petty frustrations with drop dates and locations. The story never really starts and there are several useless and inane concepts, like historical events that cannot be entered because they are too critical, or downloading languages or Shakespeare in their entirety. Frivolous.
Well researched period piece, but I have to say the book went nowhere. Every review mentions the abrupt end, and even though I was prepared I had to say "Huh?" when the book ended. I don't have the interest or patience to endure the second book. Both books should be edited down to a combined 4-5 hour story. This story is so repetitious about "the drop" and a complete lack of tension or insight of what really may be happening back at the home office, that I feel I wasted my time with this one. I did finish the book out of stubbornness, but I will not bother to get the sequel. I have a couple of hundred of Audible books, I love Audible, and this is one of only two books I'm sorry I purchased. (No fault of Audible).
I usually like the time travel theme, but this one has not been able to get me interested. Rarely do I not finish listening to a book, but this will probably be one.
I'm well into the listen and am entranced. I know it's a two-parter and that it contains many of the themes and characters of Willis' previous novels--and that's fine for me. The breadth of characters and points of view are complex, but manageable in the listen with the different accents of the narrator. Looking forward to savoring the remainder. It keeps me going at the gym. . .