Doomsday Book: A sci-fi novel by Connie Willis
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Nebula & Hugo awards
Published 1992, 550 pages
I am not a sci-fi aficionado - I don't have a ton of sci-fi book experience to compare this one to. Therefore, I can only judge it on my enjoyment and I found it very engaging, entertaining, and interesting.
As described in the blurb and every review, the basis of the story is time travel. A young female student travels back in time to the medieval era (1300s) but unexpectedly finds herself in the midst of the Black Plague. Back in London, the supervisory group of the travel is in chaos because......they're in the beginning stages of a severe viral epidemic! I had no idea that there would be that parallel to our current situation and found the symptoms, the reactions and desperation, so similar to today it was eerie. While there were some....um....annoying aspects to the story: a bit repetitious about things like a shopping bag (WHY in the world did that keep coming up?), the phone connection problems, the lack of toilet paper (really, in 1992, just like now, there wasn't enough TP???), the circular worry about Kivrin (the time traveler). I felt like the science part of time travel was fairly light, but I'm sorta glad about that since I'm NO science nerd and would have zoned out if it had been more science-y.
Overall, this is certainly a grim story - the plague in the past segments, an epidemic and panic in the current year, death and filth and stress everywhere. And yet.... I did really like some parts: the character of Kivrin (though she had her repetitive moments as well) and the fact that she came to care so strongly about the people she was dropped among. I thought the historic information about the era was so evocative and the descriptions of the plague were grim, but well presented. My fave character was 12-year-old Colin - he's a firecracker! Determined, funny, helpful, a bit nerdy, a delightful character. I liked the pacing....things moved right along. All in all, this book was an unexpected pleasure to read. 500+ pages that read like a shorter book (but could probably have easily been shortened) and even though written in 1992, has held up and can easily be read today. Recommended for dipping your toes into sci-fi, enjoying good character development, and with a strong historical component. Reading Challenge: #ReadHarder20 #16: over 500 pgs by a woman author after 1950; #BooklistQueen #42: book with a hideous cover; #Bookworm20 #2: book I paid less than $3 for. See my progress on my Challenges menu tab at the top of the page. How am I doing so far?