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All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) Hardcover – October 19, 2010
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“As vivid an evocation of England during World War II as anyone has ever written . . . You’ll find here a novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy.”—The Washington Post
“A tour-de-force. [Willis is] one of America’s finest writers.”—The Denver Post
“[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use.”—The Seattle Times
“This compassionate and deeply imagined novel . . . gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling.”—The Times-Picayune
“A page-turning thriller . . . Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.”—Publishers Weekly
“Depicts the times and the spirit of the British people remarkably vividly. . . . multifaceted and believable.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“[A] book with something for everyone that ends up working on every level. It is adventure. It is history. It is science. It is, indeed, thrilling. And it is unforgettable.”—January Magazine
“I loved this book. It is informative, subtle, full of great characters and has a wonderful plot. . . . Brilliant. Willis at her finest.”—Michael Moorcock
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Top Customer Reviews
But if you don't like history, you probably won't like this book, because that's its most redeeming factor.
Essentially, this book is a classic example of what happens when you have a good setting but a poor plot. The setting is fantastic - a bunch of time travelers lost in WWII with bombs falling all around them, but the plot is absolute rubbish. Take the following two lines, copy and paste them until you run out of space in one book, and then continue through the end of a second book:
"Gasp! We might have changed the space-time continuum!"
"Oops, oh, no. Everything is fine."
Intersperse with too many repeated cliffhangers involving chapter ends with historians nearly dying (Will They SURVIVE?) and some slapstick involving nobody being able to get ahold of each other, ever, and you've basically got Blackout and All Clear.
The first time this device is used, it's interesting and tense. The 47th time the historians wonder if they altered events (and they didn't) you just sort of roll your eyes and hope for more details about parachute bombs or V1 wrangling.
This book shouldn't have been split in twain - it should have been ruthlessly edited down to half its size (by cutting out all the redundant redundant plot points) and put into one, tighter, novel. I love Willis' books, but this really needed someone to take a +5 Axe of Editing to it with a vengeance.
In both books, I found myself wanting to scream at the repetitiveness of the action. The nth time Polly changes her plans in order to go look for the recovery team, you'll wonder if you read that page already. You didn't, it's just another repetition of Polly's same thought process and activity. How many times did we need to read about:
* Eileen being called back to work to take care of the Hodbins
* Polly working through all of the possibilities
* Polly and Eileen waiting for Mike to call
* Everyone working their way through dozens of London locales, name by bloody name
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, which kept me reading until the end. I learned more about the Blitz from All Clear than from watching hours of History Channel documentaries, and a lot more about its impact on everyday citizens. But much of the magic was ruined by all of the repetitive running around. An editor should have put their foot down and demanded that 20% or more of these two books be cut.
When Heinlein first turned in the manuscript for Stranger in a Strange Land, his editor told him to cut 60,000 words. Although Heinlein objected, he made the cuts. The book became a major success. Many years later, Heinlein published the Original Uncut Version. Although the cut material was mildly interesting, it didn't move the plot forward. It was then that I understood the value of a good editor.Read more ›
"All Clear" is the conclusion to Hugo Award Winning Willis' latest novel of time travel. These books wonderfully combine my love of time travel stories with historical fiction about WWII. In "Blackout" Willis set up for us three Oxford historians from 2060 who have gone back to different parts of WWII to do research. One to Dunkirk, one to the countryside to which Londoners had evacuated their children and one to London during the Blitz. Other characters, such as a reporter sent to 1944 to blow up inflatable tanks, and a woman ambulance driver, may or may not be related or the same time travelers. Willis expertly weaves history with suspense as each historian confronts a situation where he/she may or may not have affected history. What if Mike saved a man at Dunkirk who was supposed to die? How would that affect the course of the war? Or even of mankind?
The cliff-hanger at the end of "Blackout" has three of the historians finding each other and also discovering that the portals through which they are able to return to 2060 aren't functioning. Will they ever get back? Are they trapped together until the end of the war? Will Oxford send a team to rescue them?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What an amazing story this is! Willis has done extraordinary research to bring the WW2 heroes and heroines of England to life. A pure pleasure to read.Published 22 days ago by book lover
If you haven't read the previous novel this one is incomprehensible. No plot, just incident.Published 25 days ago by Majhul
This is a very tiresome series and could have benefitted from a decent edit. So many "if only's" - if only I'd been here, if only I'd not been there - (If only I'd not... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Big L
This book, the second half of the omnibus novel started in Blackout, isn't for everyone, but for those who are willing to immerse themselves in the story, it's absolutely... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Laura
Not as good as To say nothing of the dog but worth reading , every thing speeds up at the very end and it is impossible to stop readingPublished 2 months ago by Maria Dale
Connie Willis does it again. If you like her style and world you will enjotPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Connie Willis does not disappoint. She is one of my favourite authors and I thoroughly enjoy her novels. This is a great conclusion to Blackout. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Yendor
Considering it is the "second" half of the earlier book, "Blackout", the combined story is pretty long - over 1000 pages on my Kindle reader. Read morePublished 4 months ago by MAT_Blue
Not quite as amazing as the first "Fire Watch" short story, the book remains charming to read and opens an informative window on World War II Britain.Published 4 months ago by opinioned