Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blackout - Audio - Connie Willis

Someone send the retrieval team for the editor!

There are a vast array of opinions on this book, and somehow I think I agree with them all.

I understand that the Willis intended for this book to be a single book with All Clear but that the publishing company wanted two books. They were right. I highly doubt anybody would have gotten through 1,100 pages of this in one go. Where the publishing company fell down was editing. Holy cow!

I've not read All Clear yet, and I do plan to, but I definitely need a little break, even though this book ended with a cliffhanger.

This is my first experience with Willis, so I didn't have any preconceived ideas about what the book would be. I found it clever and a really original way to tell historical fiction. I like the way that she got into the lives of the "contemps" to show what an average person's life was like during WWII. However, I wasn't ever entirely sure I understood the motivation of the "historians" who went back in time to "observe."

I liked the characters, in spite of their sometime denseness, and constantly thinking to themselves, "surely the retrieval team will be here tomorrow."

Speaking of the retrieval team ... I think every author should use the tools available to them in their word processing program. Specifically: "find all". If you input - say - "Retrieval Team" or "The Drop" into this function and find that you have - say - 5,000 of that phrase, you may want to do some editing.

This is where the book suffered. So much repetition. There are 3 primary characters, and all had virtually the same inner monologue and they had it in abundance. I swear there were complete sentences repeated more than once in the book. This lead to a lot of eye-rolling on my part.

What saved this book from the "did not finish" pile, was the fact that I listened to it on audio. The narrator was borderline astounding. There are a lot of characters in this book and a lot of fast-paced dialog. She was outstanding at accents and at pacing and really built suspense. (Though I suspect she too got tired of the phrase "retrieval team.")

Overall, I enjoyed it even though annoyed at times, and I will continue with book 2 as stated above. But good editing really should be insisted upon, and authors who fight it really are doing themselves a disservice.

3.5 missing retrieval teams out of 5