Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book talk with Anne-with-an-e

Anne and Betsy recently read Doomsday Book by Connie Willis for a teen book group (caveat: not necessarily a typical teen pick and definitely not a breezy read. Plenty of graphic descriptions of the Black Death in the middle ages. Cheery, no? On the other hand, they both loved the portrait of a noble priest and a number of other elements in the book; they're now pressing the book on me.)

I haven't read Doomsday Book yet, but I am currently reading Blackout by the same author. There are a number of things I enjoy about it, but as I told Anne, I'm getting a little impatient with some repetition. The plot revolves around time-traveling historians -- in this case, back to World War II. Things are wonky with both the travel destinations and the future's retrieval system, but I want Willis to get to the point.  To repeatedly read, "She went to her drop and it wasn't open," and "Why hadn't the retrieval team arrived?" is getting tiresome.

"It's all so urgent," I told Anne, "because you know they need to get this stuff figured out. But because it's been repeated so much, it's not that compelling to read about it again and again."

"Well," replied Anne, "real life is like that -- urgent, but not compelling."

She's so right. I love that observation. Life too often feels urgent but not compelling.

On the other hand, I want my fiction to be better than my life, not just as stuttering. Still, I want to plow through, as I'm really enjoying all the historical details. I'll keep you posted.


caryn the designer said...

I highly recommend Countdown by Deborah Wiles. Really great historical fiction based in 1962 around the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's technically a juvenile fiction book, but is quite thick. It's a fascinating documentary novel with ads and images from 1962 interspersed throughout the story. A great read and also so interesting about a time in recent history I didn't know a lot about.

Melanie B said...

It's funny I saw the repetition criticism of blackout in quite a few comments on Amazon and didn't get it. Maybe I just have a very high tolerance for repetition? I didn't notice it at all.

Danae said...

I was also frustrated with the repetition, and am finding the same thing to be true with Doomsday Book. However, I found, that the characters and the overall story made it all worth it. I really enjoyed the books, though I did think that they could have been shorter. I will have to wait and see what my ultimate conclusion is with Doomsday Book.

Karen E. said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Caryn! Sounds really good.

Melanie, I haven't read the reviews on Amazon, but know that you and a friend really enjoyed it. And I am enjoying it, too. I probably sound too critical. Mainly, I loved Anne's reply. :)

Hi, friend-who-really-enjoyed-it: :) Yes, I agree -- I'm willing to overlook the repetition because I am enjoying the characters and the history. Colin is so cute (does he come back into it? I'm guessing so), and I loved the vicar who befriended Eileen, and also Sir Godfrey ... :) Anyway, it's a fun read. I remember you saying that it led straight into All Clear, so I might have entered into it thinking that it wasn't "complete" and I may sound too critical, thinking of this one as too much set-up for book 2.

Or, maybe I just love to discuss all aspects of books .... :)

Kelly@inthesheepfold said...

I heard about Willis from Melanie B. Push through the repetition and even the parts that seem unclear. When you get to the end of All Clear, you'll go back and reread them both. So good.

I just finished To Say Nothing of the Dog. It dragged, but improved as it went on. I enjoyed Doomsday, though, as you say, it is dark.

Fiction should definitely be more compelling than dishes and laundry and grocery shopping. Anne made a great point.

tanita davis said...

Yes, what Danae said. You may find Doomsday has that same repeating thing, but it is both poignant and terrifying and very realistic -- in that totally SFF way. I love Connie Willis, her work actually reminds me of Elizabeth Wein's, in a way.

mphc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mphc said...

Karen- thank´s for your comment! We also made a "lenten lamb" with our children´s mass group. The little ones LOVED it.. and now, I guess, you have many german blog followers :) God bless from Germany, Nicole.