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Blackout Hardcover – 1 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (1 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575099267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575099265
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 4.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,351,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A tour de force . . . [Willis] is one of America's finest writers."--"The Denver Post""This compassionate and deeply imagined novel . . . gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling." --"The Times-Picayune" "[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use." "--The Seattle Times" "A page-turning thriller . . . Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.""--Publishers Weekly"

Book Description

A Second World War time-travel masterpiece.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alison Morton on 3 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
Loving alternate and speculative fiction and being a historian by education, I seized on this book: time travel, history, an ensemble cast, a promise of something going spectacularly wrong. Yum!

The first chapter didn't seem to get going, but it set up a number of scenarios and characters, so let's be patient, I thought. Half-way through my patience was pretty thin, but I struggled to the end.

Ms Willis has done intense, detailed research; that shows. All the time. And that's the big problem. She lists and describes things (sometimes inaccurately), but doesn't use them to drive the narrative.

Oh, yes, the narrative. Three main characters, who have little gumption and less intelligence, bumble around pointlessly. Entry requirements to Oxford colleges have obviously declined by 2060. Although a bit wet (as 1940s speech would have it) when we first meet them, I did expect the characters to change and grow as they faced and dealt with a difficult environment. But they still hadn't sharpened up or learnt anything by the end of the book.

Tension was injected in drips and drops, not racheted up to a crisis point. You knew the three would meet - that was the only plot coherence in a book that sorely needed it.

I couldn't believe the abrupt non-end. I felt angry and cheated. I regret buying this book and will not be shelling out a single penny for any other of her books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Nield on 19 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Oh dear - have to agree with the one star reviewers - half a book and not an enlightening one either, though I'm intrigued by one of the reviewers who says "All Clear" (the other half) gets better half way through, as I had both as a present and probably am obliged to read it. To be fair (and answer the criticisms of the absence of inevitable technology from 2060) she does explain early on that cellphones (known as mobiles in the UK of course) have been found to be toxic in 2060 at one point (when she mentions the cargo kilt) and I thought the reveal would be some time slip that had made them so and totally changed our lives, but of course there is no reveal - the book just stops without any conclusion whatsoever.
I could add to the lists of inaccuracies and plot errors that have been spotted, though why bother? Its full of them and clearly the publishers don't feel a little thing like that matters if you are selling a pot-boiler. It just reminded me of the story that Lord of the Flies, having been initially rejected for publication was seriously cut and reorganised by Golding's editor with his blessing. There is probably enough in ideas, plot and research to make one better novel about a third the size. It just seems the skill of editing a book to make it cogent, tighter and more accurate seems to have been lost or abandoned in favour of what can only really be classed as bulk.
If you love the first couple of chapters you are in for a treat - if not don't persevere
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Paul Wilkin on 23 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Connie Willis, and Doomsday Book has to be my favorite book of all time, so I'm sad that I'm not giving this book a five star review. There are a number of problems. Firstly it is only half a book. It ends at a sort of cliff hanger point and won't be completed until volume 2 All Clear comes out in the Autumn. This would be OK but actually not much happens in this (quite long) first half. The story really doesn't move on much. Secondly the book suffers from the kind of anachronisms and cultural errors that were also present in Doomsday Book (we all remember the mufflers!) Doomsday Book had a gripping enough story line to allow one to ignore these - this book, I'm afraid, hasn't.

Also (and I know this is not the authors fault) what on earth is going on on the cover? Why are there a squadron of American B17's on the cover of a book set in the Blitz (before America entered the war) and why are they bombing London? Also, if you read the notes at the back St. Paul's - which is regularly referred to in the text of the book - is called St. Patrick's! Oh dear.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 6 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
I really did want to love it - Connie Willis is a talented writer with a splendid imagination. However, the book(s) is/are full of howlers - Mary is told to get stretchers from Edgware and two inches down the page refers to the bandages she has to get. Has the publisher actually got an editor?

Worse, though, are all the little details - the Underground lines which didn't exist, the use of Americans terms ( a "candy butcher" on a train from Warwickshire to London in 1940?), the sloppy use of American language (June fourth) alternating with British terms, the characters referring to "V-1" bombs - how did they know they were the first when they didn't know there would be V-2s? That's right - they didn't.

It's depressing to see reviews quoted as praising her superb accuracy, because it just isn't there. I don't really understand why she sets books in England - why must time-travellers go from Oxford in 2060 rather than, say, Harvard? She would save herself - and poor British readers - so much trouble.

I like the characters. The concept is intriguing, and I don't object to the leisurely pace. But I find myself thrown out of the story so often it's uncomfortable to read. A fanfic author would get a friend to "Brit-pick" a story in which a British setting is important. I so wish Ms Willis had done the same.
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