Historical Fiction/Sci-Fi: All Clear, by Connie Willis

All Clear (All Clear, #2)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The official book description claims that this sequel to Black Out “hurtles to its stunning resolution.” The resolution is stunning, and welcome, but this book does not exactly hurtle. The first half did me in. It was because of some of the reviews I read at Amazon that I persevered. And wow, was the payback ever worth it. In the prequel, Black Out, Polly, Mike, and Eileen were left adrift in wartime England when their time travel portals failed to open for their return to the 2060’s, and half of All Clear focuses – very closely – upon their attempts to find each other and to find a way home. This sizable section, at times tiresomely redundant, could have done with more editing. Things begin to pick up around page 500, and then the hurtling begins. The second half is compelling, not just for the story itself, but because of the philosophical challenges that it offers for contemplation by the reader. What is time? What actions/people are important, even crucial? Is there ever a single cause for the resolution of major historical events? The conclusion of All Clear is strongly reminiscent of the ending of The Wizard of Oz, which itself is a sort of time travel novel, but All Clear has many more surprises. There’s no place like home, wherever that may be.

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