Doomsday Book

Connie Willis
Doomsday Book Cover

Good, but hampered by tropes

Deven Science

In the near future, universities have restricted access to time machines, which are used by historians only to observe the past, thus enriching our knowledge. Against the advice of her advisor and most trusted professor, a graduate student goes back to medieval England to observe. But something is wrong, as people all around her are showing signs of the plague, despite that fact that the time she requested is well before that historic event. Meanwhile, a sudden and mysterious disease is sweeping through the time she left, and so she doesn't even know she may be trapped...

I enjoyed the book, but my enjoyment was somewhat hampered by the actions of the characters. At every turn, it seemed like characters took certain steps or made certain decisions only so that the plot could continue, and the tension and danger could increase. I understand that there is a certain amount of panic to the situation, and bad decisions will be made, but I was constantly frustrated by the actions of the characters, particularly the ones in the near future setting. Everyone refused to hear or believe anyone else, so that the problems could only become worse. All it would have taken is for ONE character to see reason and listen to another, and much of what happened could have been saved or prevented. But no, like a badly written TV show, all are blind or too proud to see the issues, and so the danger escalates.

I still enjoyed the book, and the author did a great job of trying to make the banal life of a Medieval Englander vivid and real, but every time a character refused to listen to reason, I rolled my eyes, and could almost sense the moustache being twirled.

I gave it three out of five stars.