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All Clear Paperback – October 25, 2011
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Winner of the Nebula Award
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 now 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 theoryâbut 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 pastâand, 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 studentsâthree 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.
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Connie Willis started her well written story with the first book, “Blackout” than she continues the rest in the second book, “All Clear” to bring us to the end. I enjoyed the first book but I was left hanging with plenty of questions that were answered in book two. I feel both books could have been told in one book. I believe the combination of the two books (1100 pages) was slow paced in places and tedious scenes, events, and gave too much with all the bombings through London. The time travel characters were well developed, and interesting. Willis put a lot of time being knowledgeable about the history and the war. The reason the historian’s time traveled to the 1940’s was to collect information about the war and of the history of events and not to alternate the course of events.
The historians interacted with many other people in different years and even got involved in aiding the injured, driving ambulances, striving in the blackout at night, hearing warning sirens going off day after day, running to shelters to survive, and also trying to cheer up what was going on around them by joining in various plays, pantomimes which gave the people some amusement and humor in their lives. I felt that Connie Willis stretched those scenes a little too much but it filled in a diversion from the war. The historians were only there for a certain amount of time than they would time travel back to 1995.
As the story continues the historians soon find out that their time travel drop would not open so they could go home. After this tragedy they began to think they must have altered some event while they were there so they backed tracked their movements and came up with no solutions how to get their drops to open. Throughout the story they acknowledged that the time travel had some problems with the timing and errors with places they were dropped near. There were two child characters that kept the story intriguing. Connie Willis used these two children as diversion throughout the story for many mischief capers that I enjoyed.
I feel the story was great and worth reading if you have plenty of time, patience and if you like alterative history.
Connie Willis creates characters in such depth that you feel as if you're living inside their skin, especially if you listen to the audiobook while reading, which is narrated brilliantly by Katherine Kellgren. I honestly felt as if I were there in the shelters during the Blitz, living in the blackout, and dealing with the shortages and rationing. And I recently discovered a website called Bomb Sight which shows the location of just about every bomb that fell on London during the war, which will be a wonderful resource for locations when I reread this omnibus book (because I definitely will reread it; there was so much detail I lost the first time through, it will take a second reading just to have a better handle on what was going on). Connie Willis did a truly stupendous amount of research on WWII England, and it really shows. I found myself regularly doing independent research on wartime events that I might have heard of briefly in passing but had never looked into in detail, or researching people I'd never encountered before, and that added to the entire reading/listening experience for me.
I know some people find the book(s) tediously long, but I didn't. I didn't mind the historians' introspection -- since they couldn't reveal their true identity to the "contemps," after all -- especially since there's always a voice or three narrating life in my head, too. If you have plenty of time to spend and really want to learn about WWII England and immerse yourself in the life of these time travelers to the past, I highly recommend Blackout and All Clear. (And read them in that order or you'll be beyond hopelessly confused!)
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