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All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) Hardcover – October 19, 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
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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.Read more ›
Looking at the other reviews I'm wondering what book the others were reading that resulted in such positive (5 stars!?) praise. In my opinion if this book had been written by any author other than Connie Willis there is no way I would have finished it. I am a fan of time travel fiction and Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog are staples on my bookshelf that I continuously re-read. I had to force myself to finish this book.
Here are my issues with it:
1. There is nothing resembling an introduction or a brief review of important characters and events in this book. Blackout ends abruptly at a cliffhanger (I'm using that term loosely here) and after several months hiatus we abruptly dive back into the narrative at the beginning of All Clear. It really does feel like the book was chopped into two pieces and I had trouble enough keeping the characters straight in Blackout. Which brings me to..
2. The characters and characterization are under-developed (I tried to come up with a word other than 'sucky' or 'horrible'). There are many characters but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that most of them are so thinly drawn it's hard to a) get involved in their story, and b) tell them apart. The three main characters in particular are just plain annoying and I spent a good portion of the book wondering if time travel historians are screened for mental health and problem solving ability prior to being sent into the chaotic past (apparently not).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I agree with many other reviews I have read regarding this book: It could have been a great book had it been edited. It's TOO LONG. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Carol Stair
Continuation of Blackout is excellent. Loved it! Such a good history lesson, and makes me appreciate all that people before my time had to endure.Published 23 days ago by Lisa Kingston
This sequel to Blackout is just as well written and wraps up the story. Both the books souls be read, in order, luge a two volume novelPublished 1 month ago by User425
I just finished Blackout / All Clear and I am so impressed by what Connie has done in these books. For days, I have been reading as much as I possibly could, trying to get to the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael J. Smith
This story was great! I couldn't stop reading! Lots of twists, great imagery, good characters. You have to buy both books but you won't care because the story was so compelling.Published 2 months ago by Joy
Excellent, engaging text - perfect for when you need a gripping, binge-eable, drama for a long flight or lazy day. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you like time travel, WWII and mysteries you will eat these books up (All Clear and it's prequel Blackout). Read morePublished 2 months ago by CBChristian