Review: All Clear
ALL CLEAR by Connie Willis is the sequel to this year’s BLACKOUT. Although “sequel” isn’t really the proper word for it. “Sequel” makes it sound like the first book had some closure to it, a conclusion. “Sequel” makes it sound like this book, ALL CLEAR, is going to recap what happened in the previous volume and catch you up. Both of those things are not true of this duology. ALL CLEAR, better said is the second half of the story begun in BLACKOUT. The reason for the split in the story is that it’s so long. ALL CLEAR clocks in at 640 pages in hardback and BLACKOUT was about the same. I’ve seen Brandon Sanderson books that are shorter than these two put together (I kid, we love Brandon around here).
Like I said this book doesn’t pander to the fact that you haven’t read the first one in a few months. It jumps right in and gets going with the story as if there was no break at all. I believe that Willis wrote the entire book, BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR, in one large manuscript and the publisher picked up the first half, much like a Vegas dealer cutting a deck of cards, and said, “There, that’s book one.” And really that’s my only complaint about the book. I wish I could have had it all at once.
Let’s be clear, this is Connie Willis’ finest work to date, and this is a woman who has won more Hugo awards and Nebulas than anyone alive. I reviewed BLACKOUT earlier this year, and in it I said that this duology had the potential to be everything DOOMSDAY BOOK and TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG were rolled into one package. Willis delivers in ALL CLEAR giving us a heartwarming story with real, believable characters that you love. She also gives us humor, intrigue, tragedy, and a well-researched look into WWII England all in one story. This book was fabulous.
I don’t want to say anything more about this book. Because it is a direct follow up to BLACKOUT, anything I tell you about the story of ALL CLEAR will tell you how BLACKOUT ended. I know, quite the predicament. Let’s just say that the story, as a whole, deals with three time travelers from the future, historians bent on learning what life was really like in the past, who have found themselves stuck in England in 1940 and 1941. That’s all you’re going to get out of me. If you want the rest you should go read the books. HA!
And you REALLY SHOULD GO READ THESE BOOKS! They are beautiful and subtle and witty and charming. They are everything Willis’ previous works were and more. I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a bit of time talking about the characters. Over the course of 1200 pages I grew to love these characters. And not in that “Wow that character was so cool because she can jump off of a building with a machine gun…” type of love. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But these characters are real people. While reading the book you’ve laughed with them, seen them go through heartache and struggled with them. At the end of the book I even cried with them (interesting fact: I’ve only ever cried reading two books, WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, and another of Willis’ books the DOOMSDAY BOOK). This book and these characters will stick with you. The only reason these books won’t be nominated for the Hugo and then win it next year is if they don’t let it stand as one complete story, which it is.
Go, read these books right now.
Recommended Age: 14+ Nothing really wrong here for anyone younger, it just feels like an adult would like it more. Kind of dry for kids.
Language: None really.
Violence: War violence, nothing too grotesque or frightening.
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