Top critical review
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What a HUGE disappointment!
on 3 December 2011
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.