For Oxford student Kivrin, traveling back to the 14th century is more than the culmination of her studies - it's the chance for a wonderful adventure. For Dunworthy, her mentor, it is cause for intense worry about the thousands of things that could go wrong. When an accident leaves Kivrin trapped in one of the deadliest eras in human history, the two find themselves in equally gripping - and oddly connected - struggles to survive.
Deftly juggling stories from the 14th and 21st centuries, Willis provides thrilling action - as well as an insightful examination of the things that connect human beings to each other.
©1992 Connie Willis; (P)2000 Recorded Books
"Ms. Willis displays impressive control of her material; virtually every detail introduced in the early chapters is made to pay off as the separate threads of the story are brought together." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A stunning novel that encompasses both suffering and hope....The best work yet from one of science fiction's best writers." (The Denver Post)
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
A pessimist might say, well that's 26 and a half hours of my life I'll never get back. An optimist might respond, well at least it saves us from having to listen to the other 63 and a half hours of this series. Seriously: you've been warned.
Neil Young once introduced his song, Don't Let It Bring You Down, by saying, here's a song guaranteed to bring you right down -- it starts off slowly and then peters out altogether. If only that were true of Doomsday Book, which starts of slowly, 18 hours worth of slow, and then turns downright awful for the final eight hours. Unless you've been hankering for graphic descriptions of death by plague (eight hours worth!), consider yourself warned.
At the 18 hour mark, there was a moment where I thought this might all be worth it. I could see exactly how Willis could bring together her story of time travel from the mid-21st century to the 14th century, with its bookend epidemics and attempts to bring the time traveller back from the deep dark past. But instead of tying together the scant plot strands, she gives us eight hours of the plague.
I listened to Willis's Bellwether and absolutely loved it. A neat, satisfying six and a half hour bundle of genius. I thought Doomsday Book might be Bellwether times four, the entire Oxford series Bellwether times fourteen. If only Willis had distilled this down to a manageable 8-12 hours, maybe it would have lived up to its hype and awards (by cutting out the endless repetition, for example, or cutting down the graphic description of the plague -- half an hour of plague would have sufficed).
This is beyond disappointment. This was simply awful -- 18 hours of boring followed by eight hours of awful. Thanks to Jenny Sterlin for narration that at least makes the listening easy on the ears. Too bad the writing was not at the same level.
I felt as though the story didn't really start until two thirds of the way in. I appreciate the parallels between the past and the present parts of the story (epidemic). But what was happening in the present was just way too uninteresting to take up that much space in the book. I didn't want to read a story about a localized flu epidemic in modern Oxford. I wanted to read about a modern person stranded in medieval plague times. Also, for no apparent reason, nearly every character in the book wants to EVADE questions and be generally unhelpful and uncooperative with other characters. It's very frustrating to listen to. The reader is OK, but doesn't "voice" the characters sufficiently differently for my tastes.
I really enjoyed this book. Although it started a little slowly, I became totally absorbed in the two worlds, staying in my car once I reached home after work, not wanting to stop listening. The characters -especially Colin, Kivrin, Dunworthy, Agnes and Father Roche were well thought out, and the relationship between Kivrin and Agnes was very special. Christmas Eve, with the beautiful night, and the feasting: the suspense kept on building. The book ended almost too suddenly, and I was left wanting to know more. A good sign perhaps. I enjoyed the narration - Jenny Sterlin. Well worth listening to.
I understand that some listeners find the beginning a little hard to get into, but those who stick with it will be rewarded. The characters become incredibly, heartbreakingly real, as do the worlds Willis painstakingly creates. I listened to this a year ago, and I still think of it often. Willis is one of our great writers crossing the border between sci-fi and "serious" fiction.
Very disappointed in this book. It was no where near as enjoyable as the author's book, "To Say Nothing of the Dog." Save your money and skip this dreary book!
It's like watching a history channel documentary, she keeps repeating the same information over and over. This was a very long and gruesome tale with no point to it. There is some description of life circa 1350 and a lot of descriptions of how awful being sick can be. The science fiction part, time travel, is weak. I get the impression she didn't want to be repetitive on this part of the story. As for the story, it is very predictable and I found no one interesting outside the damsel in distress and by the end just wished they'd all hurry up and die.
The narrator is very good, but, in keeping with the story, goes very slowly.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This book is a Medieval cliff-hanger. It rings true to an English major and history buff. It switches between centuries very well. It is full of maddeningly slow procedures, difficulties, barriers, enforcers of rules, people (and cows) who only get in the way, who don't know or won't say. I loved all the different characters of all ages in both centuries and an appreciation of each person's life fitting into the whole story. Do not listen on a rainy day, especially if you are depressed already; and try to have some knitting to do or you might bite your fingernails. While the book has descriptions of rare beauty and magnificent fine character and noble acts, it is also not really a pleasant journey. With less than hour to go, there are still miles to cover in the snow and people to find. A beautifully crafted story, but unlike many really good reads, you're quite relieved when it's over. And I am sure I will listen again. P.S. Nobody milked the cow.
This story takes a while to get going, but stick with it, as it is the best audible book I have listened to with only one exception (The Company). But this story has better characters and is recommended for both Science Fiction fans as well as those who enjoy history. Indeed, this story has the same historical depth and feeling as Ken Follett's The Pillars of Earth. The reader is great and adds much to the quality of the experience. This is Connie Willis' best book. After the first third, you will not be able to put it down, and skipping work to listen to it is compulsory.
knitting and listening to Audible = perfect way to spend time!
I downloaded this book after hearing an interview on Audible. I was very pleased with my selection and found it hard to stop listening! Both the writer and the reader made the characters and place come alive.
If you like history, even if the Middle Ages isn't your area of expertise, you will like this story.
Junior high school students maybe, because it sounds like a junior high school student wrote it.
Well, I decided on this book because I've been going through the winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards. After listening to this book I've realised that just because a book has won the two biggest awards in sci-fi that doesn't mean it's any damn good.
The book had so many problems that even the best narrator would have had a hard time not being pulled down by it. Jenny Sterlin was alright but her pace was so slow and she took such long pauses that it made the story terribly ponderous and lumbering. I really couldn't wait for the thing to end but she just kept plodding along. I wished I could have sped her reading up until she sounded like a chipmunk just to get the ordeal over with.
This is probably one of the most irritating books I've ever experienced. So why did I finish it? Because I was expecting some great reveal at the end that was going to bring all of this nonsense together and help me understand why people think it's so great.
And then there's the repetition, the repetition, the repetition... "There's something wrong.", "I have to find the drop." Over and over and over again. I seriously started to think that we were going to find out that everyone had some sort of brain injury or something. Nope. This is just a terrible story.
Connie Willis seemed to just want to put some futuristic people back in the middle ages but she was too lazy to actually build a sensible story to do it. Instead everything that contributes to the conflict of the story is all just coincidence, several of which are never explained. Then the main characters of the book bungle around getting distracted with trivialities allowing things to get worse and never once acting like the intelligent people that Willis has tried to make us believe they are. The only sensible character in the story is a 12 year old kid and really, he's the only reason to listen to this audiobook.
"Drop the Telephone spoils a good story"
I got a great feel for what it may have been like to live through the Black Death.
Sadly Connie Willis chose to pad the story out with superfluous repetition, no hint of mobile phones in the mid 21st century leading to silly repetitive story lines about not being able to contact people. In a similar vein if we can invent a sub dermal recording device surly a micro beacon to enable "Historians" to find "the Drop" would not have been beyond the ability of engineers that can send people back to 1348. Again this created irritating repetitive fluff that spoiled what was a great story.
I enjoyed the historical parts of the story but then again I'm a real fan of Historical fiction.
She portrayed the emotions of the numerous characters extremely well.
Yes, it ends rather abruptly having raised loads of questions during the plot building about errors and who was at fault for this disastrous "Drop." Additionally more linking the archaeological evidence to the experiences of Kivrin and what other trips do the University staff embark on.
This was a gripping story on several levels with parallels between the past and the story's present. Unexpectedly moving and not easily forgotten.
The transformation on the naive student of the present day into a tough and resilient charactor.
Pretty much, a little slow in places, particularly the unnecessary dragging out of the Latin quotations at the start of some chapters.
A plague on you all?
Despite some minor irritations with the narration this was a cracking read which kept me up many a long hour
"Detail Detail - Far too much detail"
The authors attempts at making us imagine what it was like in England during the Black Death fall flat. The details (far too many of them for my liking) destroy the momentum. Constantly had a "let's just get on with it" feeling. The narration is so slow that I listened to the back in higher speed. The narration is also tediously monotone and bored. The story, the characters, the events are pretty banal - despite the very promising main idea.
Get it if you are very-very patient.
Excellent story, very good narration. Bridge between well-researched historical fiction and English scifi. highly recommended.
Gripping story accurately depicting peoples anxieties and worries interacting with each other. Some reviewers have commented that writing is repetitive but this is how the human mind works. Going over things in your head over and over again.
"Grueling in places but worth it"
A book about time travel to the Black Death from a future world suffering a pandemic was never going to be exactly cheery. This one is so well written it gets very bleak without being gratuitous. Its also often funny. And I couldn't stop reading, even when I was crying. I HAD to see it through. There were times I wondered if anyone would make it out of the book alive. Be warned, you'll think you can see what's coming and you will often be wrong. Many twists and turns. Ultimately I found the ending satisfying. Connie Willis makes you like the characters, in spite of their many flaws, so that you are sucked into their experience. Jennie Sterlin is a wonderful narrator for this story and I never got lost about who was speaking.
"History and time travel and grime."
I really enjoyed the premise of this story, the whole idea seemed quite plausible if the science exists, which it doesn't yet, unless the Historians are here observing and I haven't spotted them. There's no science in this sci fi story as it focusses more on personality and the interaction of the characters and here's where the problem lies for me. Connie Willis makes them really stupid at times and they repeat themselves unnecessarily. I felt I wanted to get hold of the editor, if there was one, give them a good shake and have them excise the extraneous, repetitive mental maunderings. Is there an abridged version? Jenny Stirlin did a sterling job (pun intended) and I applaud her narration, she made this very long story come alive. Also on the plus side, the 14th Century in all its archaic, smelly, dirty, winteriness is very well described. There is some lovely medieval language which flavours the whole book, and the medical aspects were obviously researched, except for the rude, unobservant 21st century nursing staff who annoyed me as well and yes, I do know what I'm talking about as I am in the medical field. Oh its the occasional outbreaks of stupidity of the people inhabiting this book that annoyed me so much, possibly needed as a plot device to move the story along? If so it didn't work for me. I had heard Connie Willis's sequel to this book; "All Clear" first and although there was annoying repetition in that shorter book, it was an easier listen and I enjoyed it, which is why I chose "Doomsday Book". Maybe there was better editing in "All Clear" or Connie had whittled her writing style, anyway be forewarned and forearmed, this is a good book if what bothered me doesn't bother you.
"Wonderfully swept along with the story"
I love the mixture of time travel, history, university politics, science and health in a great story that moves between the middle ages to now in and near Oxford UK. Good main characters and terrific narration too. Very sad to reach the end of it.
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