Friday, February 19, 2021

19. Blackout

Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. 610 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: 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.  

Premise/plot: Several time travelers find themselves TRAPPED in the past in Connie Willis' thrilling novel Blackout. Time travel has its dangers--of course--but the net is supposed to have safety features built in to protect time and time travelers. But the 'logic' of the net is changing, and, the systems seem to be failing. Though it seems like a few people are aware of this calamity-in-the-making (Mr. Dunworthy surely has his suspicions? Why else would he be rearranging all the scheduled comings and goings of the historians?) The historians themselves are being kept in the dark, out of the loop. 

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...

My thoughts: I really love Connie Willis' time travel novels. Blackout and All Clear perhaps would have perhaps been better as one CHUNKY book. The two are essentially one book with one story. These two can be read on their own without previously reading the other two books. (Again each of those two could be read as stand alone novels.)  

I love historical fiction. I love historical fiction set during the second world war. I love historical fiction set in England.

I love time travel stories. This one is INTENSE.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Joyousreads said...

I haven't had any luck with time travel books lately. I think the last time I enjoyed one was Dark Matters by Blake Crouch.

I hope you'll enjoy the next installment to this series.

Have a great weekend!

Jean said...

I LOVE these two books. The first time I read them I didn't pay enough attention and got a little muddled, but then I read them again last year and it was SO great.

Randomly Reading said...

Blackout and All Clear are two of my all time favorite books. I've read and reread them. I'm so glad you liked them, too.

Anonymous said...

I love WW2 historical fiction. I was a little hesitant to read this, but loved it. And just like you said, one needs that 2nd book ready to go. I am normally a library reader, but had to overnight book 2 so that I could keep going.