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All Clear by Connie Willis
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All Clear

by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Oxford Time Travel series (4), All Clear (2)

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1,5441154,755 (4.07)285
Recently added byprivate library, Donzelly, citysnidget, cabegley, maplegrovelessons, palop, 332, snrsbooks, bhuesers
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» See also 285 mentions

English (114)  Swedish (1)  All (115)
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
See my review under Blackout. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
***warning: Blackout and All Clear are really one book spilt into two due to length. Be sure you have access to All Clear when you finish Blackout or you will be frustrated! I’m reviewing both books as one due to that fact***
Blackout and All Clear alternate between 2060 Oxford, England, where time travel has been invented and is used by historians to explore the past, and the 1940s England where historians are living through key bits of the London Blitz to get the civilian perspective. Of course, because this is a story, at some point things start to go wrong….
I loved these books. The characters are engaging and likeable. The time travel is reasonable – the rules are fleshed out enough for you to understand the guidelines without being bogged down in excessive details, and it hangs together well enough for the purposes of the story. The problems that the characters must overcome are really more of an excuse to explore the historical time period in more depth, but I did not find them overly contrived or annoying. I genuinely liked the characters, so I cared about their wellbeing and continued fate. There are some points in the middle of the book where I got tired of series of endless coincidences or characters whining about their fates, but it didn’t slow me down and in the end I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
The details of civilian life in the blitz were very interesting to me – it is a perspective on the war that I have not learned much about, and this book has inspired me to go learn more. I don’t know enough about the time period to comment on its historical accuracy, but it seems to be historical fiction with emphasis on the historical rather than the fiction (time travel aside, of course).
Despite being a pair of fairly long books, they were very engaging, kept me up past my bedtime several nights, and were a fast read. Part of this is because the book alternates between several different perspectives, and would often end a chapter on a cliffhanger with one character and then jump to a new character. This can be annoying when you really need to go to sleep, but does keep you turning the pages. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written time travel fiction, or who enjoys WWII historical fiction, particularly the civilian side rather than the military battles.
All Clear picks up immediately where Blackout leaves off – no recap, no refresher. Blackout ends in the middle of the story – no mid plot closure. So it really is best to read both books back to back. ( )
  mazlynn | Jan 4, 2017 |
This is a short review of “All Clear” part two of a two part novel by Connie Willis. First impression is that it is a continuation of “Blackout.” Not all fans really liked this arrangement: two books, same story, and no stand-alone novel. Kind of like the Harry Potter novels in some respects. But the similarities end there.

What is this book? The historians fresh from Oxford in the year 2070 have been stuck in the past. Their “drops” (gates back home) don’t work and they seem stranded in the past. “Blackout” was annoying in the sense of jumping around from person to person several chapters apart.

This changes in “All Clear,” where the characters follow one to the next. The gimmick of a historian changing his/her name depending on where they’re at in the time stream is interesting and surprising to this reader, as I did not know who was who until it was apparent near the end.

And the wrong conclusions drawn by the characters were so convincing that when these conclusions are brought forth as false, this reader could not help but be relieved.

SPOILER: When a character seems dead and then is not so, that was one of those moments. Or when another character gets despondent and tries to “protect” the others by hiding important facts that could lead them home, was quite annoying to this reader. Polly, let us say, was not who she seemed to be! END SPOILER

The characters that really take the cake are Alf and Binnie, two Dickensian-type kids who make a game out of the disaster that was the Blitz – the Luftwaffe bombing runs on the British – and how they try to survive. Eileen, their sometimes-caretaker, cannot wait to relieve herself of them yet at the same time finds she cannot go on without them. There’s a bright, intelligent subplot here with the kids and Eileen that I found heartwarming, despite it not being that interesting to the main characters. These kids really take the cake!

Bottom Line: What makes this story flow? Is it the time travel aspect? No, in fact that’s rarely touched upon. Is it the survival spirit of the British people? Yes, at times. Or is it Colin, a character who was introduced in “Blackout” as a young historian who wants to go back in time and help out Polly, who out of love and self-sacrifice spends a large portion of his life looking for a way around the sudden stoppage of the “drops” to save Polly and crew.

Less bumps in this Part II, lots more characterization and lots less bouncing around – clearly a novel to be read!

Good job, Connie.


( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
When I finished Blackout I was thoroughly ticked off at Connie Willis. Seriously, Blackout is not really a novel; it's half of a novel. It just stops at the end. It was ridiculous and I have no idea what Willis and her publishers were thinking.

Having said that, now that I've read All Clear, the second half of Blackout, all is forgiven. It took me several pages to get caught back up--because I do not have instant recall of a several-hundred page book that I read eight months ago--but once I did I really was swept into the book and found it incredibly difficult to put down. Yes, the two books should have been edited down into one; yes, you could probably cut 300 pages of near-misses and searches for drops and Alf-and-Binnie escapades and not miss a thing. But the ending of All Clear is so good, and I loved seeing all the plot strands resolve themselves. I only wish that the editing had been stronger; this might have been Willis's finest novel. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
  nicolewbrown | Sep 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
For this reviewer, it’s not every day these days that a book arrives that makes you want to jump in the minute it lands at the doorstep. However, after my review of Black Out (the first part of this duology, reviewed HERE) this is one for me. Like many other Connie Willis fans, this book’s been a long time a-waiting for.

After the cliff-hanger ending of the first part, we get straight back into the tale. There’s a little bit of reminding of what went before (note: do read the first book first!) but pretty soon we’re back into the WW2 dilemma of Polly, Mary, and Mike. This can be a little confusing if it’s been a while since you read Black Out: you really do need to read this as one continuous novel.

The complexities of the time travel element become a little more involved here as the apparent changes in Black Out have their effect. We now find that there is a great deal of slippage: over four years, when the longest previously was about six months. Mr Dunworthy finds himself entering the fray from 2060, Mary finds herself involved with an RAF officer, whilst Mike, in his search for Gerald Phipps, finds himself at Bletchley Park and intermixing with the mathematicians involved in the ultra-secret Enigma code-breaking project. There’s also the welcome return of a character from the beginning of Black Out who has a pivotal part to play in this tale.

So we’re combining Enigma or Cryptonomicon with our previous tale. This gives Connie a chance to get away from the seemingly endless bombing of London and the London Underground shelters and tell of the quiet war, with Alan Turing and his team working in intense secret, on devising a computer/machine to be able to break the German’s unbreakable codes.

This is great fun. We also switch between times, as Phipps is in 1944 looking at the Normandy invasions and setting up false trails for the Germans.

However, by this stage it’s not easy to keep all those plot threads going. The Enigma tale is soon forgotten as we look to wider issues and the future. Managing that great balance between telling a tale in a historical context and giving readers a feel of what the place was like in the 1940’s is not easy. To say that Willis manages this is a great achievement.

On the negative side there’s a lot more running from place to place and an increasingly frustrating inability to get to drop zones. This is explained as the tale progresses - it’s all part of the book’s plan – but at times, whilst entertaining, it all seems (until the end) as a little unnecessary.

I’m also not sure that all this running around during bombing raids, and leaving messages for people about V1 and V2 attacks could have been got away with without someone becoming suspicious.

Nevertheless, by that end, the reader may feel, as I did, that they have been through a lot. There is love, death, sacrifice and complications within complications, and yet, in the end, the overall feeling is one of optimism and hope. The difficulties of the war in 1940’s England may have been replaced by bombings and global change in 2060, yet the endurance of the human condition comes through. This is a book that not only appreciates the sacrifices of the past but is a testament to endurance against crushing difficulties. What this book celebrates is that heroism comes in many ways, and not just the big heroic acts but the many minor actions often overlooked.

Whilst it is rather long – clearly a tale that grew in the telling – it is still a wonderfully worthwhile read. Most fans of Connie Willis will not be disappointed. This is a pleasure, from a formidable writer whose storytelling skills are still a treat. I’m very pleased to write that this book sustains its tale for over 1000 pages and it is a wonderfully thrilling and compelling immersive story with characters you care about.

Please don’t leave it so long before the next tale, Connie.

added by PLReader | editSFF World, Mark Yon (Dec 2, 2010)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brock, ChalresCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, SteveDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omori, N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. --Winston Churchill
Dedication
To all the ambulance drivers, firewatchers, air-raid wardens, nurses, canteen workers, airplane spotters, rescue workere, mathematicians, vicars, vergers, shopgirls, chorus girls, librarians, debutantes, spinsters, fishermen, retired sailors, servants, evacuees, Shakespearean actors, and mystery novelists who won the war.
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By noon Michael and Merope still hadn't returned from Stepney, and Polly was beginning to get really worried.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When three Oxford historians become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle to find them.… (more)

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