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All Clear (All Clear, #2)All Clear by Connie Willis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second half of Blackout more than a sequel. Weird experience – I have massive problems with this book, but I also could not put it down. Hrm.

I think that this book succeeds at its smaller scale purpose. It’s clear from what she’s said that Willis did massive amounts of research about the Blitz, and that she really wanted to make it come alive. Which she did. She takes this sense of fear and purpose, this keep calm and carry on, this practicality and humor and misery, and she nails that bastard to the wall for hundreds of pages. A lot of bombs fell, a lot of people died, a lot of people survived and drank tea and put on plays and did their Christmas shopping. That part works.

But the bigger agenda . . . *shakes head*. Putting aside the pacing problems, and the structure choices that feel more like authorial withholding than the slow progression of the story, and that nothing surprising happens in a Willis book if you’ve ever seen Doctor Who, ignoring the fact that Willis has managed to write about a bunch of people with no families, context, or personal history again.

These books have no momentum. They’re just about a bunch of people stuck in bad situations frantically trying and failing to do things to help themselves, until the time continuum readjusts itself in a series of quotidian accidents and coincidences. And I’m supposed to feel good about that? I’m supposed to believe the pat message at the end about the value of our sacrifices when I’ve just swallowed over a thousand pages of story about people who never managed to effect change any way but by accident? I think Willis thinks she’s writing about people doing their best in crisis, and how the sweep of history is just an accumulation of tiny choices. But from where I’m sitting, it’s just a bunch of people helplessly flailing around inside a weirdly anthropomorphic mechanism she calls the continuum, with all their grace and their bravery and their personal responsibility nullified by the fact that it’s history, it’s already happened, and if it doesn’t, hey, the continuum will make sure it does anyway.

Huh. More put off even than I thought.

View all my reviews

Date: 2010-11-01 10:34 pm (UTC)
buymeaclue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] buymeaclue
Ugh. That's about what I expected from the portion that I got to read before the library wanted it back. Maybe I won't bother slapping it with another hold.

Disappointing. I love so much of Willis's stuff, and I read posts by folks who liked Blackout and this one, and I want to read the books they read. But when I get the books in front of me, they are not those books.


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