So, my “rule” this Cannonball was that, after finishing a book, I had to at least write a draft of a review before moving on to the next book. This worked really well for a while, and every time I’d go to post a review, I’d have a folder full of drafts to choose from. Finishing the reviews became fairly easy, because my thoughts were already there, so even if it’d been weeks (or, let’s be honest, months) since I finished the book, at least I had something to jog my memory.
That was then. This is now. When June’s book club book, Doomsday Book, was chosen, I was excited because A) I hadn’t read it before, B) my library had it, and C) TIME TRAVEL. I read it right away, and so fast, and I had a lot of thoughts but I didn’t write any of them down so now I can’t remember ANY of them. But I’ll try.
So, there is this team of time traveling historians, right? And they’re based out of Oxford and travel to different time periods in order to collect information regarding said period. There are certain points in time that are off limits, either because going there could create a paradox or because they are deemed too dangerous by whoever is in charge of the Department of Time Travel (so, Hermione, probably).
Kivrin, a young traveler and still a student, is determined to go to back to medieval times, something that has never been done before. Her mentor, an older professor named James Dunworthy, is completely against her going, partly due to paternal protective feelings but also because it’s hella dangerous. Another professor named Gilchrist, however, does not have the same tender feelings toward Kivrin, and also does not have two brain cells to rub together, so he authorizes the mission.
Right after sending Kivrin back, the scientist in charge of all the tech-y things, Badri, becomes very ill.
Oh, another thing they’re all worried about? Contagious diseases. This is due to, not too super long ago, a virus wiping out a good portion of the population.
So, Badri gets sick and soon many others get sick, leading to a quarantine of the town, meaning Dunworthy has issues trying to figure out where exactly Kivrin is. Because, you see, there’s this thing called slippage which can cause the time traveler to slip days or years forward or backward of the designated time period.
I won’t spoil it, but both Dunworthy and Kivrin eventually discover that she’s not exactly where she’s supposed to be, with horrifying results. The novel switches back and forth from points of view and time periods, and neither Dunworthy nor Kivrin are having a very good time of it.
I really enjoyed this novel, with a few caveats:
- Dunworthy spends an excessive amount of time trying to get ahold of certain people and, while I realize this is meant to show his frustration with the bureaucracy he’s facing, it’s super boring to read.
- SO DEPRESSING.
Number 2 isn’t really fair, I realize, because CONTAGIOUS DISEASE but still, I could have used a bit more humor or, just, something lighthearted in between all the danger and illness. I liked this enough, though, to read more of Willis’s work, so I’m moving on to To Say Nothing of the Dog next, which I’ve heard is a bit lighter than this one. Excellent choice for book club, though!