Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Edi's Spotlight: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

The third time travel book review in a row. This is a special one for me because I never read a book by author Connie Willis before. My interest in her books started with the the blurb of Blackout (pb, 2010) [ISBN-13: 978-0345519832]. TIME TRAVEL !!!!

As this is not the review of Blackout you need to follow this link in case you want to read the blurb of Blackout.

In the blurb is mentioned that Blackout is not her first time travel novel. It did not take long to find out her first time travel book: The highly acclaimed Doomsday Book (1992) [ISBN-13: 978-0553562736]. I could not withstand to buy a copy which I read for this review.
Of course there are a lot of reviews available. For a first impression I recommend to have a look at Goodreads. And here is my take.

England 2048. Time travel has become reality. Due to get more information about England in 1348 on the brink of the Black Plague Kivrin Engle, a young, female historian, travels back in time. But something goes wrong.
The story splits into two main threads. In present time we follow the desperate tries of her tutor and friend Professor Dunworthy to get Kivrin back home are clouded by a crisis. And of course we follow Kivrin and her struggle for survival in a world she seems to know so well from her studies ...

It is always an inner fight for me how much I tell about the story of a book. I tend to tell less than other reviewers. In this case I think every additional takes away a part of the fascination.

Indeed the Doomsday Book is far beyond to be a high octane action adventure time travel. It is the strong and emotional study about human nature or to be precise about what makes us human regardless the time we are living. Faith, love, hate, trust, hope, friendship are timeless in their archetype.

Imagine a stage separated by a wall. On each side a play is performed. At first sight both plays appear different. As different as our imagination of England in 2048 and in 1348. And as similar as human beings can be. Aroused by incidents which again appear different but look similar at their roots. And all is connected by one person ....

There are no extraordinary heroes in common sense. But there are extraordinary characters in sense of humanity. The more human they appear the more you are involved in their life. A life full of emotions, ups and downs and unforeseen events. All the characters with their ideas, hope and reality, the depiction of life in England (either in 2048 or in 1348), the idea and execution of time travel is beautifully and remarkably mixed/combined/interwoven by Connie Willis. There is nothing without sense. It finally leads the reader to questions like

Why are we convinced to such an extent to know everything about the past - especially medieval time?
Why are we convinced to such an extent to live in a better world than people in the past?

Questions which you can't answer instantly. Fortunately Connie Willis leaves you with the insight that humanity, human life on earth depends on more than purely universal constants. Can you imagine human beings without faith, love, hope and inquisitiveness?

I must say I have been impressed and touched by the Doomsday Book.
I'm no writer. I'm just a reader. A reader who tried to express in humble words his sympathy for an extraordinary book.
You want to read about humanity implemented in a brilliant time travel story? You want to be emotionally touched? You want share life with characters who could be your dear and near ones?
You want more than good entertainment?

Then read the timeless gem of a novel:
Doomsday Book

2 comments:

Bibliotropic said...

I have a copy of Dooms Day Book on my bookshelf. Not even sure where I got it, and I know I haven't read it yet, but I do hear some good things about it, and I hope that when I finally do get around to reading it that I'll enjoy it.

ediFanoB said...

Give it a try. This is not the time travel stuff you would normally expect.

And thank you for stopping by.

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