All Clear by Connie Willis

all clearPublished: 2010

Genre: science fiction/historical fiction

Length: 641 pages

Setting: mostly London during WWII

Interest: It finishes the story started in Blackout.

Summary: Polly, Eileen, and Mike are stuck in London during the Blitz. None of their drops will open and no retrieval team has come to get them out of the past. While they continue to try to get out of the 1940s and back to their own time, they also have to live in London during frequently dropping bombs. Polly and Eileen become shopgirls, and Mike is a reporter. They also look for discrepancies between the history they implanted in the 2060s and what is actually happening. Polly makes friends and takes part in an amateur acting troupe. Eileen ends up taking in Alf and Binnie, two kids she met caring for them in the country who are now living in the streets after their mother died. Mike fakes his own death and takes part in Fortitude South (trying to plant false information so the Germans don’t expect D-Day), putting coded messages in newspapers he hopes his colleagues in the future find. Eventually, they figure out their actions haven’t been wrecking the time continuum and making things worse, but are actually helping to ameliorate the atrocities of the war and the drop won’t open until they’ve helped all they need to.

Final thoughts: Willis writes almost two books in one – a time travel book and a WWII book. The amazing thing is both story lines are great. By the end, as they’re figuring out why they are stuck and Colin (stuck in the future) is trying to find Polly (stuck in the past), the tension keeps ratcheting up. In the end, everything work out and the last scene in the book is quite satisfying. Even Alf and Binnie end up playing a more important role than you would have guessed from Blackout.

Title comes from: The all clear sirens that would sound after the bombing. It’s also used at the very end to signify they’ve finally made it out.

Awards won: Along with it’s sister novel, the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards in 2011

Reading challenges fulfilled: 23/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, 4/12 in the Award Winning Book Challenge and an A in A-Z Reading Challenge (which takes me to 14/26).


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