Pages: 512 and 656
Genre: Fiction, Sci Fi, Historical Fiction
Where I Got It: My Kindle
My Rating: 4 stars
Important Note: I think all readers should know before they start reading that Blackout and All Clear are really one book. Blackout ends rather abruptly, and the story resumes again in All Clear. I wasn’t aware of this going in and was a bit perturbed to find myself at the end of Blackout (which is a 500+ page book) and not having an end to the story. In fact, I had to immediately download All Clear so I could find out what happened as I was heavily invested in the story by that point. I so wish I’d known this going in. Plus, if you picked up All Clear and started reading, you’d be totally confused. I really think the books should have been named “Blackout” and “Blackout 2.”
25 Words Or Less Description: Three time traveling historians get caught in the Blitz during World War II and cannot return to their own time (Oxford, 2060). (Note: I suspect that if this description appeals to you, you’ll enjoy the books immensely. It attracted me immediately.)
So What Genre Is It? The best description is probably “Sci-Fi/Historical Fiction.” Sounds kooky but it totally works!
What I Liked
- The time-travel premise. I definitely want to check out more of Willis’s books that deal with the time-traveling historians.
- Learning without pain. I’m not one to pick up a straightforward history book and read it. I tend to like my history presented with lots of snark (Sarah Vowell), humor (Bill Bryson) or as entertainment (this book). I felt like I learned quite a bit about World War II and the Blitz but without that pesky “learning” feeling.
- Willis leaves you little pieces of the puzzle to figure out along the way. If you’re a bit of dim bulb like myself, you might think “Who the heck is this? What is happening here?” Trust me … it all comes together in the end.
- Willis doesn’t spoonfeed you information. You’re plunged right into the story and time travel premise with barely any explanations. But soon terms like “drop” and “contemps” seem run-of-the-mill.
What I Didn’t Like
- Willis doesn’t spoonfeed you information. This led to frequently feeling disoriented or confused about what was happening. It took a bit of time for me to find my stride with these books.
- Willis has a rat-a-tat-tat writing style that sometimes feels repetitive. At times, I felt like I kept reading and rereading the same sections with just minor changes. Plus our three historians seem to face the same problems over and over and over and over. It got a bit wearying at times.
- That I didn’t know this was really one big book. Seriously, I cannot tell you how annoyed I was to get to the end of Blackout and have zero resolution to the story. Hence, the “Important Note” that starts this review.
So Should I Read It?
If the premise is appealing, I say go for it. Despite the weaknesses I mentioned, the books were fun to read, educational and inventive. Just realize that you are committing to reading what is essentially a 1200 page book!