Book Review: Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Book Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate ReaderBook Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate ReaderBlackoutBook Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate Reader and All ClearBook Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate Reader by Connie Willis

I like historical fiction and fantasy, so combining the two into time-traveling historians from 2060 going back to study World War II in person? Oh, yeah, I’m all over that.

The books are lengthy and involved, with lots of characters and locations. Brief chapters jump between telling the stories of various individuals, and sometimes you’re not initial sure who is the star of a specific vignette.

Willis makes it all work though, and the story lines converge and separate and combine to create an exciting and engaging tale. Characterizations are real enough that I was moved by their plights, and have continued to think about them weeks after finishing the stories.

Despite their length, I plan to re-read them soon, because I’m sure that I’ll find lots of details in what seemed like random side-stories turn out to be significant.

Absolutely don’t read the first if you don’t have access to the second; unless you have lots more patience than I do you’ll want to dive right into the second immediately. They’re really more like one giant book, broken up into two to avoid an 1100+ page monstrosity.

Don’t read it if you’ll want to really make sense of her theories on time travel. Read it if you can just accept her premises and roll with it. Don’t read it if it’ll annoy you when you consider some of her depictions of life in 2060. There were definitely bits that I found unrealistic (even beyond time travel; that I just accept as the basis of the book), but I could ignore it because I liked the characters and enjoyed her depictions of life in World War II so much.

Recommended, if you like this sort of book. It’s kind of a hard one to recommend in a way, because it’s not exactly historical fiction, or fantasy, but a mish-mash of the two. But I loved it.

Book Details

Title: BlackoutBook Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate Reader and All ClearBook Review Blackout / Book Review All Clear by Connie Willis - The Deliberate Reader
Author: Connie Willis
Category: Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Length: 512 / 656 pages
Release Date: 2010 / 2011
Publisher: Spectra
ISBN: 0345519833 & 978-0345519832 / 0553592882 & 978-0553592887
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Comments

  1. Oooh, I love historical fiction/fantasy mish-mashes. Or perhaps it’s that I’m very accepting of fantasy elements in any kind of fiction. ^_^ Putting on hold at the library….

    • Ok, now that I’m thinking about it again, it’s maybe technically closer to science fiction than fantasy if you’re into the details of the specifics of which is which. Except I generally don’t like sci/fi and love fantasy, so I called it that without thinking. But, since my complaints with sci/fi is often that they get bogged down in the details of the technology and how something works blah blah blah, this one doesn’t so I still liked it.

      If that made any sort of sense. But still, I really liked the books, whether or not they’d really be science fiction or fantasy mixed up with history.

      • I don’t tend to make a distinction, either–the difference, so far as I can tell, is whether the unrealistic elements are caused by “magic” or “science which to varying degrees might as well be magic since it doesn’t actually work in the world as we know it today.” And so long as you don’t feel the need to give me a physics lesson to explain the “science” behind the idea, we’re cool. ^_^

        • Yup, that’s pretty much how I feel about it – I skip a lot of true science fiction because it does seem to come along with a physics lesson which … no thanks (and I liked physics. I just don’t want it in my leisure reading.)

          I just want a good story, with characters I like (well, I don’t have to like all of them, but I need to at least care about one of them). I’ll suspend any disbelief and go along with whatever the premise is for the set up, no need for a lesson. Although you do need to be internally consistent at least with whatever assumptions you make as far as the framework for your setting. I do get picky about that. 😉

  2. These look interesting…. I love historical fiction, but am not too crazy about fantasy. Will have to look into them further. Thanks for a good review!

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