Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 495 pages.

Colin tried the door, but it was locked. 

I thought I'd start with a word of warning. When you get to the end of Blackout, you're going to NEED to have a copy of All Clear ready to go. Because, chances are, you're going to want to pick it up right away. There is no 'real' ending in Blackout. There is no resolution. There's no peace to be had. Usually I might say that's not such a positive thing in a book, but in this case, I'm forgiving.

You might also find it helpful to know that Blackout can be read as part of a series of time travel books by Connie Willis. The books share some characters: Mr. Dunworthy is in Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, and All Clear. Although he is only a main character in Doomsday Book. Badri is in Doomsday Book and Blackout. Finch is in Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. Colin is in Doomsday Book, Blackout, and All Clear. Verity and Kindle are in To Say Nothing of the Dog, but are mentioned (very) briefly in Blackout.

But you should also know that it's not essential that all of these books be read in order. It is definitely essential that you read Blackout and All Clear in the proper order. But you don't have to have read Doomsday Book or To Say Nothing of the Dog in order to enjoy or appreciate Blackout/All Clear.

There are three main characters--three main narrators--in Blackout. Each is a historian, a time traveler. Each has plans for multiple assignments in the twentieth century. Each is experiencing frustration as these drops are rearranged and rescheduled. The historians are Merope who is 'observing' the evacuation of children from London to the country. She 'becomes' Eileen O'Reilly and works as a nurse or maid in one of the homes. Under her care are two very, very wild children. Of course, she's responsible for more than two children. Her employer has taken in many children--over a dozen, I think? But those two are the ones that make her life more than a little unpleasant. Her assignment is for the spring of 1940. Polly "Sebastian" is a historian observing the London Blitz in the fall of 1940. Her assignment has her working in a shop on Oxford Street. She is curious in observing how the Blitz effects people. How they are able to cope with the bombs falling over their heads. How they are able to cope with the terror of it all--knowing each and every night that they could die. The third historian is Michael Davies. Since he was supposed to observe Pearl Harbor first, he's got an implant to give him an American accent. But with the shuffling of assignments, he's now observing the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940. His research has him observing heroes. He's looking to observe the qualities that make someone brave and heroic, what makes a person risk their lives to save others.

If all went according to plan, these three would NOT have met--in the past. Their assignments in 1940 would not have overlapped in time or place. But not all went according to plan...and now these three are going to need each very, very much if they're going to survive...

Read Blackout
  • If you are a fan of historical fiction set during World War II
  • If historical details fascinate you 
  • If you are interested in the London Blitz  
  • If you are a fan of historical fiction set in Britain
  • If you are a fan of science fiction and/or time travel
  • If you are looking for an extremely compelling read
  • If you're looking for an intense read; something very dramatic
  • If you are a fan of Connie Willis
  • If you read Doomsday Book and are interested in finding out what happens to Colin when he grows up...
  • If you're looking for memorable characters 
  • If you are a fan of Agatha Christie and other mystery writers of the time 
  • If you want a book you just CAN'T put down no matter what 
I loved this one. I just LOVED it. It was so intense, so dramatic, so emotional. It just held my attention. I cared about these characters so much! And to see them in danger, well, I just couldn't stand to put this book down!!!

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I really want to read this book at some point.

SiMo said...

Hi Becky, I don't leave many comments but I always read your blog! I've given you a little prize because your blog is really beautiful and useful.

I know it is written in Italian, but I wrote the comment to your "nomination" in English and, if you're interested, I leave you the rules:
- create a post on your blog;
- write 7 things about you;
- give the prize to 15 other blogs.

Bye, bye! ^_^

Elizabeth said...

I'm reading Doomsday Book right now (so good!) and now I can't wait to continue with the rest of these.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Once again your great review has me wanting to read Connie Willis so badly! Thanks for linking to the Time Travel Challenge page.