June 2024
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Review: All Clear, Connie Willis

all clearThis review will contain spoilers for Blackout. You should always read that first before you read this book or this review!

Mike, Polly, and Eileen have finally found one another in the midst of the London Blitz in 1941, but they’ve discovered, to their dismay, that none of them can get back to their own time. Oxford in 2060 is several lifetimes away and they may need to resign themselves to living in the Blitz forever. They keep trying, however, sending messages to the future and coding things to let their time travelling cohorts find them more easily, and slowly the pieces of how they got lost in the past start to fall together.

These two books – Blackout and All Clear - have received a lot of criticism for being too long and under-edited. I’ve seen plenty of cynical remarks to the effect that two books sell more copies than one. I am going to say that I never really felt that way. They were long books, yes, but perhaps I read through them so quickly that neither dragged for me. After I finished Blackout, I immediately picked up All Clear so I could get right back into the disrupted lives of these three time-travelling characters.

I was glad that, not too long into this book, the plot threads start to go together and everything begins to make more sense. While the first book was about each character’s realization that they are trapped in an incredibly dangerous historical period, the second book is about how they will get themselves out of that and what actually happened to a few of the other characters mentioned in the previous book. They are still very much required to deal with the situation, but everything actually wraps up. There were a couple of characters introduced in the first book without any real background story and their roles were clarified and we did figure out who they all were.

Everything I loved about the first book is still true; the atmosphere remains fantastic throughout and I appreciated that we continued to get a feel of the different parts of the war, too. The main focus is really on London and precisely what happened, and there are some very tense and dramatic scenes as the characters fight to keep themselves and others alive. Willis really can make you feel as though you’re in the midst of each and every struggle with the characters.

There isn’t much else I have to say about this book that I didn’t say about the first, but rest assured that if you are looking for a dramatic read set during World War II and don’t mind or would love a little time travel in your books, this is a duology well worth reading. Highly recommended.

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