Eric Leblanc's Reviews > Doomsday Book

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
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's review
Mar 05, 2011

it was ok
Read from March 05 to 10, 2011

I heard good things about another one of Willis's books called "Blackout", and since Blackout is the third in this particular universe I thought it would be a better if I read "Doomsday book" first.

Frankly I was very disappointed with Doomsday book. On the positive side, the idea of sending historians in the past to record first hand views of important events is interesting, as well as the fact that the technology is far from perfect hence introducing problems for the characters (wrong location or date). In addition, including in the story a very deadly flu epidemics that emerge at the same moment that the historian is sent into the past brought interesting plot points where the historian is stranded in the past, on the wrong date because the staff in the "present" is infected by the flu and making mistakes. And she ends up right at the moment where the deadly Black Death started in Europe... People are dropping like flies, and the sense of desperation is very high. On a particular scene, bells from churches in surrounding villages are heard several times a day, signalling each time another death, and I could easily imagine how apocalyptic such ringing bells may have sound on these days.

On the negative side is the slow pace of the book. I mean, there are so much completely irrelevant dicussions in this book that at some point I was simply skipping them. One particular character is annoying the entire book, with completely useless and paranoid comments about how her son is this, and that, and.... anyway. It was funny the first few times, to become annoying, to irritating, and completely skipped. same for the historian girl sent in the past, where you can read transcripts from her notes at the end of the chapter, and then for the next 20 pages or so you get the extended version of what she just wrote. And since it is mainly mundane things, it's kind of useless to reread it again.

This book is done in three parts. Part one, the historian is sent into the past, the epidemics strikes in the present, the historian is sick too in the past. Interesting part. On the other hand, Part two is way too long and should have been shortened. To give you a better idea, I skipped about 100 pages and never missed any important information. Part 3 deals with the Black Death epidemics starting, is depressing (in a good way), and bleak.

So, to make a long story short, this book would have be better some useless stuff had been removed especially in part 2.
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03/05/2011 page 60

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