Friday, October 3, 2008

Book Report: Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

I'm quite fond of Connie Willis's work. From the quirky romance of Bellwether to the quirky tragedy of Passage, she manages to take the ordinary and make it both funny and extraordinary. So I was a little surprised that I had some trouble reading The Doomsday Book, especially considering that it won the Hugo and the Nebula. I had difficulty right from the start, and I still don't understand why. The setup is fast, and the inciting action occurs quite early. The characters are well-drawn and interesting. It's a mystery, and I admit it may have more to do with me than with Ms. Willis's work.

I understand my difficulty getting through the middle section much better. Once the main character, a time-travelling historian, arrives in the middle ages the pace of the story drops considerably. A lot of time is spent developing the characters of those around her, and giving the reader tremendous detail about the setting time, place and society. However, not much happens to move the story forward. It is only near the end of the second book that Willis reveals the danger the protagonist is in, and from there the pace picks up considerably, with tragic results.

Don't get me wrong. Willis is great. I doubt I'll ever read this book again, but I know I'll pick up Willis soon. My wife has To Say Nothing of the Dog on the bookshelf.

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this.

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