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Blackout Paperback – September 14, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
1. Blackout and All Clear are one book, split in two. Buy both, read Blackout first, and then immediately start in on All Clear.
2. It helps to be familiar with Connie Willis's style and especially her time travel theory before jumping into this 1000 page book. Start with The Doomsday Book and then read To Say Nothing of the Dog.
3. Don't think too hard about the time travel theory. Like every time travel theory, it falls apart under scrutiny. But her theory is quite entertaining and plausible on the surface.
4. In spite of the first chapter of Blackout and the cover flap, this is not a book about Colin Templar. He's in maybe 10% of the book, tops. You'll like the other characters, but not if you're mad that Colin disappears for 800 pages after chapter two.
5. If you're familiar with Connie Willis, you know you just have to roll with the craziness (for a long time with this book, alas) until it gels. This doesn't happen, honestly, until about 250 pages into Blackout. You start with one main character, then jump to another time/place with another main character, then another, and then back to the first, and then to a seemingly-random side story, and then back to the second character, and so on. It's frustrating for a while but it works out and you'll figure out what's going on.
6. The details of this book are the point. You'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about the Blitz. Is it fill? Other than a few (interminable) scenes involving theater rehearsals, it's all pretty interesting.
7.Read more ›
However....BLACKOUT left me feeling underwhelmed. It is, as others have said, only the first half of the story, and I'm not sure I'm going to bother with the second part when it comes out later this year.
The opening pages set the tone for the whole book. Characters rushing around from one place to another, pages and pages of very tedious explanations of how person A just missed encountering person B, and maybe B's gone off to X, so person A goes chasing after them, only to discover they're actually at Y instead, but "Better hurry because the [wherever they're going] is about to close!" ....which sends A racing off again, in a fruitless and futile search for whoever it is he's trying to find. This sort of situation occurs over and over and over again throughout this book. It got very tiresome after a while.
The sections set in the year 2060 suffer from the same curiously low-tech communications system that was evident in DOOMSDAY BOOK. No cell phones, no answering machines, no Internet, no email. And this is supposed to be 50 years in *our* future? I didn't find it believable.
I liked many of the parts set in WWII-era England. The descriptions of what life was like during the Blitz, what the shelters were like, how people were warned that even lighting a match for a cigarette at night could be enough to draw an enemy bomber....I found all of that very interesting. Ditto the children being evacuated (I didn't know they had housed evacuee children in manor houses, for example). And the Dunkirk storyline was quite interesting, too.Read more ›
I don't know how this book would appear to someone who has never read Connie Willis before. But to someone who has read all of Willis' solo writing, both novels and short stories, and some of her partnered books, it just appears tired. Willis covered the Blitz so movingly in her short stories "Fire Watch" and "Jack," and is capable of creating books that can make you cry ("Doomsday Book") or laugh ("To Say of the Dog" and "Bellwether"), but here manages to be neither moving nor amusing. There is such a host of characters at the beginning, that it's hard to keep them straight. Eventually, we figure out that we are getting the viewpoints of three main characters, historians Polly, Elaine and Mike, all time traveling to WWII England for first person experiences: Polly as a shop clerk in London during the Blitz, Elaine as a maid in the N. of England to observe child evacuees from London, and Mike to Dover to observe ships returning from the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk. But the characters are poorly drawn, and we never get a feel for them. They are just people who know what's going to happen next, and worry incessantly about whether what they've done has changed history. It's hard to illustrate how tiresome this gets without writing spoilers -- suffice it to say that manic thoughts about "but if they'd done X, then that means that they would have missed Y, and then Z couldn't have happened..." etc. etc. from all three characters gets first boring, then downright annoying.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a fabulous book, well written and totally absorbing. All of the details regarding the Blitz in WW2 London were amazing and Willis truly portrayed the phenomenal spirit of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by book lover
Blackout is a major work of characterization during a truly epic period in history, the Blitz. It's not a heavy action book; it builds very slowly, and the story is told in such... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Laura
Started reading this because I learned Willis had won Hugo and Nebula awards. Right from the start I was put off: in 2060 all the positions of authority in British universities... Read morePublished 3 months ago by F. Krasowska
A fascinating look at the life and sufferings of the British people during World War II told from the viewpoints of several historians in different interweaving story lines. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Arthur S. Freed
I don't like novels that doesn't end and send you to the next one. But the historical research is very good and the characters are very well depicted. I've enjoyed it.Published 4 months ago by Carlos Francia
So, I love all the history about World War 2, in the story. However, I think the story was just good, not great. I'm just nit picking. Read morePublished 4 months ago by T. Davis
This is a competently written book that provides some interesting historical background on WWII Britain. That's about all that I can find to say good about it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Louis Graham
If you finish it, you will have to get the next. It really doesn't end. Very thought provoking.Published 5 months ago by Jill Smith