Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: All Clear

All Clear by Connie Willis

I finally read All Clear by Connie Willis. It is the sequel to Blackout, which you may remember I read way back in March. The story is about historians who are from the year 2060 and travel back in time to World War II. In Blackout, The three main characters, Polly, Eileen and Mike, all started on different assignments and wanted to observe different parts of England in WWII. Eileen was in the country observing evacuated children, Mike went to Dunkirk to learn about heroism, and Polly went to London to see how people survived the Blitz. When each of these historians want to go back to 2060, the find that their drops -where they go to be transported back to the future- don't open. They are stuck in the past.

All Clear begins exactly where Blackout left off. The three historians have found each other and are trying to figure out how to get word to their retrieval teams (the people who are supposed to rescue them should anything bad happen) to let them know they are stuck and need to get out. The three end up writing ads in the news paper that will hopefully survive for historians in the future to find, letters to the editor and articles with their names and location coded in them.

The three historians leave no stone unturned: in addition to the messages to the future, they look for other historians all over England who have traveled back to the same time period and leave clues of their whereabouts so anyone from the future can find them and pull them out. SPOILER: A rescue team does eventually come, but at what cost? Not everyone will get out.

In All Clear, there are many twists and turns, some of which were easy to guess, and others that took me by surprise. It took me a a few chapters to get into it, but I think that's because it had been so long since I read Blackout. I needed time to remember what was happening to all of the characters and what their current plans were to get back to their own time. After I worked out all of the details, though, I could not stop reading. At the end of each chapter I NEEDED to know what was going to happen next, and I was always frustrated if the next chapter followed a different character. But then, I would get sucked into what the next character was doing, and would NEED to know what was going to happen to them. It was a never ending cycle until I finished. I particularly liked the 1995 chapters and finding out what happened to Alf and Binnie.

I was mostly happy with the ending. The characters I thought (and wanted) to fall in love did. But I would have liked a scene or two of what happens in 2060 after the rescue team...well, person... comes. Willis makes it so it's easy to guess, but I wanted to read it. And I wanted the last kiss. Willis left me hanging with a happy ending kind-of, but no satisfying kiss when I knew there would be one right after the last period. Read the books and I'm sure you will want it, too. 

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