Blackout by Connie Willis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was the first time I read a work by Connie Willis. Blackout is, at its core, historical fiction, though laced with elements of sci-fi in the form of time travel. The premise of all of Willis’s time travel novels is that in the near future (2060) Oxford University historians will conduct their research by traveling back in time to their periods of study. In Blackout, several historians travel to England during World War II, disguising themselves in various locations including London during the Blitz, Dunkirk during the evacuation, and a countryside manor house. However, something has gone wrong with the historians’ return mechanism (called the drop), and our heroes are trapped. At first, I found Blackout to be immensely interesting, as the story exuded all the emotions and attitudes of WWII life and at times even made me feel slightly panicked. However, 500 pages of nearly the same phrase (“Where is the retrieval team? Why is my drop not working?”) began to get frustrating. I will be reading the sequel, which essentially is a direct continuation from the 1st book with hardly a transition at all, but only because I’m curious to find out how/if the characters return to 2060. In the end, I would recommend this book, as the story is extremely immersive, but don’t attempt it unless you’re ready to read 1000 pages of WWII historical fiction.