by Connie WillisAll Clear
picks up right where Blackout
(my brief review
) left off. In fact, they are quite definitely in the one book broken into separate segments category--there are lots of lingering puzzles from Blackout
that do get eventually cleared up. Like that guy that comes through the net at the very end? NOT WHO YOU THINK IT WAS.
For those of you who haven't read any Connie Willis, go, go! If you enjoy British history at all (which I do, naturally
), you will like these books. Start with To Say Nothing of the Dog
, skim Doomsday Book
if you want, and don't skip "Fire Watch." Then read Blackout
and All Clear
, because in my opinion these two books are the convergence point for the whole series. All the little niggling questions, all the odd things that are never quite explained--that's what these books are about.
That, and Britain during WWII, and the everyday heroes of Dunkirk and the Blitz and so many other things. It's a book that will make you laugh and cry and cheer. I loved it. I was also totally immersed in it and even now I'm writing this post when I should be doing about ten other things because I can't get it out of my head and I'm hoping that if I talk about it I can move on.
My sole quibble out of the whole thing was the two American tourists that Colin bumps into. They were just so stereotypical and served no purpose that I could see. And as an American who lived in London, however briefly, I was annoyed.
And so it was beautiful and heartwrenching and I think it must be the end of the series, although I'll be glad if it's not. And the rest of what I have to say is horribly spoilery, so I'll put it behind a jump. PLEASE don't read it if you even THINK you MIGHT eventually read these books. It's one of those things where I think it really would change the way you read both books.
Did I mention heartbreaking? I practically cried myself to sleep last night over Mike. Mike who went to observe heroes and died one about ten times over. Mike who wasn't set up to be particularly romantic or anything, but who was marvellous anyway. I...yeah. It's one of those things where I'm not arguing with the fact that it happened or the way it was written, but, oh it hurts. I started suspecting what was going to happen pretty early, but I was still hoping until we got to that scene. Which I am crying thinking
about right now, augh.
I wanted to read the whole Oxford series close together, to see how they hung together. To me, they’re actually quite disparate. Or at least, they strike very different notes, although they’re tied together by more than just an overlap of characters. Everyday heroism (MIKE) and courage in the face of disaster and defeat, for instance. I do find the optimism of Blackout and All Clear hard to reconcile with the non-optimism of Doomsday Book. Still, I love all three/four. [Aug. 2011]