I have long been a fan of Connie Willis and so looked forward to "Blackout". The basic plot of time traveling historians trapped in London in WW II during the Blitz had great potential. However it was a major disappointment as the plot progressed at a snail's pace. I didn't realize it was the first of two books so decided the second book, "All Clear", would make up for the agony of reading the first- it didn't (I can't count how many times that was said in these books). I should have been tipped off when in the introduction to the audiobook for "All Clear" the author stated that she loved doing the research more than the writing. I suspect that after all her time researching, to maximize revenue she had to make this a two volume story when the plot would better support a short story! Willis fans, skip these two and hope she does better next time.
The characters seemed childish, lots of hand wringing, too many second guessing, "what ifs". I inadvertently ordered this book, not realizing it was the second of a series of three. There is a forward from the author warning you not to start listening to this book unless you have experienced the first. I am glad I tried it anyway. I endured through about half before I had to call it quits. The presenter didn't seem to have much range in her voice to alert you when a conversation switched from one character to another. An annoying waste of time and money!
This book needs to be shorter.. the story feel like it just drags.. while I enjoy long books this one felt like there was nothing to tell.. just have the characters run from one place to the next.. I guess the author tried to give a sense of urgency but she failed.. save your money.. don't buy this book or blackout. They are both equally terrible books.
Edit, edit, edit.. she is a very good writer. This was a disappointing story telling experience.
the reader did great. She made this aweful book almost bearable.
I think that core idea of time travellers stuck in a moment in time like world war II London is good and it has a lot of potential but the whole book feels like you are rushing from one place to the next but you don't get the sense of urgency.. just feel annoyed that you jump from one chapter.. finally made it to a somewhat interesting point and now... she jumps to a totally boring an uninteresting spot in the story.. this should have been 1 book rather than 2
All Clear is the second book in a 2-book series. It's really one book broken into two largish volumes (the first is Blackout). The main problem is that the two books really are just one and they should have been just one. The combo would have benefited from some vigorous editing to cut the total length by 30-40%. At times, the plotting seemed plodding, with characters going from one incident to the next.
As always, Willis does a great job giving readers a feel for what it must have been like to live in that time period. And, the extent of her "blitz" research was impressive. If you're looking for a way to get the "feel" for living in the blitz, this is an entertaining way to do it.
I found the performance a bit flat, but okay. The female characters were a bit too whiney for my tastes, and the children were annoying. But, they were distinct enough to tell apart.
Overall, I didn't think this was Willis's best work. Doomsday Book was a better read. I thought it was better than some of her others (e.g., Say Nothing of the Dog). Had it been 30% shorter, it would have been a classic. I'm not sure it was worth paying for two volume to get one book, though.
For starters this is a sequel to Blackout, actually it's a continuation. So if you haven't read Blackout, don't even think of reading this book, it will make no sense. Some people complain about this, but then remember Lord of the Rings was published the same way. I am a huge fan of time travel books and a big fan of Connie Willis. This series was great, but also a little disappointing. The story line and plot are fun, trying to figure out what's going on is interesting, but she is sooo repetative. A lot of the book is filler and thoughts of people that you heard them think a few chapters ago. I think the only reason I finished the book was because I wanted to get to the end. there were moments that made me laugh and cry, but mostly I was frustrated that these people were not seeing what I was seeing. it shouldn't take the characters in the book to figure out what's going on much longer than it takes you because then you're just yelling at them and calling them stupid. the ending made the book worthwhile to read though, but unlike To Say Nothing of the Dog and Doomsday, I will not be re-reading this one.
If it was 12 -14 hours instead of 24 it would have been worth it.
No, although it's sort of sui generis.
I also listened to the first volume "Blackout", performance was comparable. I read "The Doomsday Book" and others by Connie Willis and enjoyed them which is why I looked forward to this set.
There probably will be one...hope she can be more concise.
She obviously was in love with the period and her research, to the cost of plot and character. The characters were forced to run around worrying about this and that, endlessly whinging about something or other until the story caught up with her descriptions of the horrors of the blitz. After a while it made them hard to differentiate, much less care about. There is a good book buried inside this monster (and I include the first volume "Blackout"). Don't get me wrong, I love long books (Diana Gabaldon for example has some single books that are longer than these two volumes combined), but fully fleshed out characters are critical to holding my interest. Historical accuracy and detail are wonderful, but need to serve the plot rather than the other way around. In Willis' earlier books she managed this quite well, maybe this should have been a different two books - one tightly paced novel and one non-fiction book about life in London during the Blitz.
The reviewer who said the characters' self recriminations about whether their actions changed history hit it dead on. I found myself angry with the characters because they couldn't just get on with it.
*** slight possible spoilers ahead ***
The ideas the characters had about time travel and affecting outcome were ridiculous. I don't want to rant about the details here but I found myself wanting to go online somewhere to rant about it and get it out of my system instead of yelling at my car stereo.
Doomsday Book I enjoyed, but Blackout and All Clear, though they had the potential to be great were brought down by the tediousness of the characters thoughts. Did I have to sit through five minutes of one character wondering why another was late? Or assuming that because the all-clear sounded too early that meant the war was lost?
Listening and loving it!
I was looking forward to another time travel book by Connie Willis, having enjoyed Doomsday Book immensely. The fact that Colin Templar and Mr. Dunworthy were in this one made me look forward to it even more, and I held off buying Blackout until All Clear was also available. However, this book (I agree with other reviewers that Blackout and All Clear constitute one book) is deeply disappointing. It is too long, uses too many of the same plot devices (making me wonder, at one point, whether my player had skipped backward), and is unnecessarily confusing. I am OK with jumping around in time and shifting characters/points of view, but when you decide to give the same characters different names at different points in time, it's time to rethink this thing. The end of the book was both melancholy and unsatisfying, with only the relief that yet another time traveler would not be added at the last minute as compensation. And what's up with Colin, Ms. Willis'?
This is an excellent historical novel, but not what I would call sci-fi. The time travel aspect is kind of an afterthought added to move the characters around.
The novel should have ended satisfactorily in Blackout and started again on a new track in All Clear. I am about 1/3 into listening to the second volume, and I am bored stiff. The characters are not, in my opinion, sufficiently interesting or complex to drag them through another novel. UGH!