Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Blackout - Connie Willis

Great freaking scott, you guys. What I learnt from this book is to trust your bloggers. If they tell you to make sure you have All Clear  the sequel and conclusion to Blackout  on hand before you finish Blackout, THEY MEAN IT. I do not have it on hand and I am STRESSED OUT. Fortunately, I do have Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, so I'm reading that now and feeling considerably better, thank you for asking. But Blackout, people, good gracious.

So it's the year 2060 and people have invented time travel, as they do. It's being used as a research tool for historians, wherein they hippity hop back in time to observe and gain insight. If you've read Doomsday Book by Willis, you'll likely be as pumped as I am that this book features not only the same world but many of the same characters.

In Blackout, we follow multiple historians, three most prominently, who have travelled back to 1940 to observe different aspects of WWII. Things are going well, they're observing away, and then it all starts to feel slightly ... off. I'm trying my best to get less spoilerific here at the Enthusiast, so I'll leave it to the back of the book to tell you "the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past." It's pretty much so tense that my insides feel compressed when I think about it.

Yes, kind of like that.

The story is a page-turner and an extremely well-crafted and well-researched read, but it was the characters that really made the book for me. I feel especially invested in the characters in the Blitz, who are so optimistic and calm, yet hiding their terror just beneath the surface. For all they know, the apocalypse is taking place around them, yet somehow, life goes on.

Wait, that can't be right.

The environments are also incredibly vivid, as if Willis really saw the streets of London levelled by bombs, the beaches strewn with barbed wire, the stately manors packed with evacuees. I was entirely absorbed.

Read this book if you're looking for some historical fiction with a sizeable helping of suspense and a healthy dash of science fiction. Delicious.

Most importantly, make sure you have All Clear on hand before you finish Blackout. THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR YOU.


  1. time travel and WWII?! Thanks for the review - I'm going to have to track this one down! Is it just the two parts in the series?

    1. Yay! It really was awesome. Yes, it's just Blackout and All Clear in this series, but reading Doomsday Book first can't hurt. It's entirely unnecessary, but I found it fun to recognize people and technology when I went into Blackout.

  2. Dude, I...stopped Doomsday Book partway through because I got distracted by shiny things and that book is fricking long. But I will finish it someday.

    WWII time travel? Not so much behind it in terms of interestingness. But YES ATTACHMENTS.

    1. I loved Doomsday Book, but it made me so sleepy. It was weird. I read it the summer I started reading for fun again, so I guess the exertion of reading words on a page as well as holding up that tome was just too much for me. So I completely understand putting it away in favour of shiny things, is what I'm saying! I'd say it's worth finishing sometime though.

      WWII time travel! What's not to love? Also, there is a dog.

      ATTACHMENTS IS THE GREATEST EVER. I love it so much. It is fantastic. They are definitely making that into a movie.

  3. I'm sorta "historical fiction, meh" but then "oh wait, time travel and suspense you say? Go on..." But do I need to read Doomsday Book first? Is that important?


    1. Definitely not important to read Doomsday Book first; Blackout stands on its own really well. You just get an extra kick out of Blackout if you've read Doomsday because you can say "Hey! I know that guy!" I like saying these things.

      And I'm with you with the meh-ness of historical fiction, but the story and characters of Blackout are way more powerful and interesting for me than the historical tidbits along the way. And the characters are still relatable, which is nice.

      Attachments! Callooh, Callay!


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