Saturday, January 21, 2017

Blackout & All Clear - Review

Title:  Blackout & All Clear
Author:  Connie Willis
Series:  All Clear #1 & #2

Synopsis:  Blackout: “Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past.  Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor.  Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day.  Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz.  But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules.  And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse.  For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas – to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.  Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.”
All Clear: “Traveling back in time, from Oxford circa 2060 into the thick of World War II, was a routine excursion for three British historians eager to study firsthand the heroism and horrors of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz.  But getting marooned in war-torn 1940 England has turned Michael Davies, Merope Ward, and Polly Churchill from temporal tourists into besieged citizens struggling to survive Hitler’s devastating onslaught.  And not there’s more to worry about than just getting back home: The impossibility of altering past events has always been a core belief of time-travel theory – but it may be tragically wrong.  When discrepancies in the historical record begin cropping up, it suggests that one or all of the future visitors have somehow changed the past – and ultimately, the outcome of the war.  Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the stranded historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, frantically confronts the seemingly impossible task of rescuing his students – three missing needles in the haystack of history.  The thrilling time-tripping adventure that began with Blackout now hurtles to its stunning resolution in All Clear.

Review:  I’m reviewing two books at once in this review because, in my opinion, they are actually just one book and should be treated as such.  I love Connie Willis.  The first of her novels that I read was Doomsday Book (read my review here) another time travel novel set in the same world, and I loved it.  After reading Doomsday Book I immediately snatched up all of her books that I could find.  I’m so behind in my TBR pile that it has taken me this long to get to them.  I was not disappointed; Blackout and All Clear are the best books I’ve read all year.  Blackout sets up the story, introducing you to the world and the characters.  All Clear shifts you to the edge of your seat; making you read faster and faster, as you bite your nails, wondering how in the world this is going to end. 
     Blackout and All Clear are well researched; the history sucked me in and made me want to read more about World War II.  The descriptions are vivid and fascinating; several times I really felt that I was in the shelter with the characters listening to the bombs and the guns above me.  The characters are extremely well developed; when I had to stop reading, for things like work and sleep, I found myself thinking about the characters and their experiences.  I stayed up way past my bedtime after I reached the climax because I absolutely had to finish reading and find out what was going to happen. 
     I have been recommending these novels to anyone who will listen.  You like time travel? Read Blackout and All Clear.  You like history?  Read Blackout and All Clear.  You like reading?  Read Blackout and All Clear.  You think you don’t like reading?  Read Blackout and All Clear.  Everyone should read these novels.  Just make sure you have an appropriate amount of time, because once you start you won’t be able to stop. 

Publisher:  Ballantine Books (Spectra)

If you like this book you may want to read:

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (See BookGirlR’s review here)

Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt

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