#97: Doomsday Book: Connie Willis

Still plowing through my Book Club of One! Reading through the NPR top 100 Fantasy/Sci Fi novel list!

 

First observation about Doomsday Book: It’s lengthy! 

Second observation: It was worth every page!

Doomsday Book is proper English folks in the near future time traveling! If it was set in America there’d be car-chases and break-ins but because it’s set in jolly old England there’s cruel nurses determined that protagonists get plenty of rest after their sicknesses and heated chats between ole’ chaps when one is caught trespassing (after he had convinced a security guard through friendly conversation that he was supposed to be let in).

 

There’s a super-flu in the present (which is actually the future because it’s set in the near-future) and the black death in the past!

The characters felt a little flimsy at first but rounded out as i continued to read. i realized why this was, instead of introducing characters with a round of exposition- spoon feeding the reader information, Willis just drops them down in front of her readers and lets them walk about. The more time you spend with them the more you get to know them. This was a nice touch, and since the book isn’t a quick read we get to know the characters well over time.

Overall the book was VERY well written. When a character falls ill (or dies) you feel a pang of worry (or grief, dear lord Agnes… makes me misty just thinking about her!) for them. The protagonists are all believable, they are all worthy of the term hero in some fashion and some are down-right saintly. Father Roche is an admirable picture of devotion (both to his faith and those he serves), Rosamund seems insufferable until we learn the story behind her short tempers and our hearts turn towards her, and Kivrin is one of the best female protagonists i’ve read in a while. We walk with Kivrin as she keeps digging deeper and deeper into herself and finds strength upon strength in an overwhelming situation! (Collin also gets a solid thumbs-up from me. When we first meet him he annoyed me to no end, but by the end of the book i was solidly in his corner!)

Super Kudos for making the Black Death feel heavy and meaningful through this work of fiction. Not an easy task for something that happened nearly 700 years ago. Those historical tragedies tend to get classified as “historical” and viewed through the lens of boring text-book prose.

For me this book was an A-    i would recommend it strongly!

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