Book Review and final read-along discussion: Blackout by Connie Willis

Title: Blackout
Author: Connie Willis
Genre: Science fiction, time travel fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Colin tried the door, but it was locked.

This post assumes that you have finished reading Blackout and will contain spoilers. (Previous discussion posts: week one, week two, and week three)

Well, first of all I can understand why the people who read this book when it first came out were upset. If I finished the book knowing that I had to wait several months to read the rest of the story, I would NOT have been happy. Fortunately, I have All Clear already sitting on my shelf. (Anyone want to continue the read-along in August?) I really think the two books could have been combined. Yes, it would have been a monstrous chunkster, but the end of this book does not feel like the end of a book; it feels like the normal end of a chapter.

So let’s talk about our three intrepid historians. Eileen/Merope, Polly, and Mike have finally found each other and are beginning to come to the realization that something terribly wrong has happened in the lab at Oxford. There is simply no other explanation as to why no one has come looking for them.

I found it interesting that Eileen was so strong while caring for the refugees during the measles outbreak, but as soon as she found Polly and Mike, she had a breakdown. Of course, she hadn’t expected to be stuck in London in the middle of the Blitz – I’d be freaking out, too! That’s the thing that kept going through my head during the second half of the book – that now the historians were truly experiencing history. All of their “outs” and much of their foreknowledge has been taken away, and they are now facing the war just like the contemps. Of course, Polly is also facing a deadline – if she is still back in time when V-E Day comes, she’ll be dead, as she’d already traveled to that place and historians can’t have two versions of themselves in the same time.

Last thing – the final chapter. Who is your guess as to who came through? I’m thinking it’s Colin. But I’m confused as to how he was able to travel back if things are going wrong in Oxford. Unless his traveling to September 1940 is the very thing that caused the problem. I can’t wait to start All Clear!

If you have been following along, please leave your thoughts or a link to your own post in the comments. It has been fun reading along with all of you. And thank you to Avis for hosting with me!

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11 Responses to Book Review and final read-along discussion: Blackout by Connie Willis

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I’m still basking in my Doomsday euphoria. So you didn’t like this one as much? Or were you just unhappy with the sudden cutoff at the end of the book? I’m wondering if, after you finish All Clear, you will rate the whole thing a five star…

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – I have seen at least one other blogger who changed their rating of this one to a 5-star after finishing the second book. It was definitely the cutoff at the end that dinged it a star for me – and it started out just a bit slow, in my opinion. Nothing to keep me from recommending it, though – or from being excited to start the second book!

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  4. Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment on this post! I totally agree with you that the end of this book was a bummer, even though I’d been forewarned.

    SPOILER WARNING! Given that we know that Polly has a cut-off date (because she was at VE-Day), I wondered if she was the historian in the section with the three girls in the Underground station (pp. 157-161). Makes sense, right? Why would Willis tell us about another historian who’d been there on that day? I must admit I’ve been tempted to try to plot out who is where when, as it’s now become clear that the dates are significant too!

    I’m looking forward to our All Clear discussions!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Avis – I was wondering the same thing! Also wondering how Mary – the ambulance driver – fits into things.

  5. I just posted my first discussion post for All Clear, so please check it out. Also, I meant to say that I agree with you, I think it’s Colin that’s come through in the final chapter of this book. I still don’t have any theories as to why the retrieval teams haven’t shown up!

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  7. Leslie
    Twitter: undermyappletre

    I’m leaning toward Colin arriving in the final chapter also. I’m hovering between a 4 and 5 star rating on Blackout. Since the book didn’t really end I’m going to review both books together after I finish All Clear (which I am starting tomorrow).

    I was thinking the retrieval teams couldn’t arrive because time itself wouldn’t allow it… that perhaps there were several weeks slippage and they couldn’t get through yet. But now someone has come through the net, so that’s probably not the reason.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Leslie – as you get farther along in All Clear, there are some chapters set in Oxford 2060, so a little more info there, but not much! She sure likes to keep her readers guessing. 🙂