5-star quick review: Doomsday Book (Connie Willis)

doomsday bookI read this book years ago, but so many of the images and scenes from it have stayed with me. It accomplishes something that is extremely hard to do: write a book that works simultaneously as excellent historical fiction as well as excellent sci fi fiction. Usually a book will lean heavily on the tropes and expectations of one at the expense of the other, but the Doomsday Book blends both in amazing synergy that impresses the aspects of both.

A historian in the future, Kivrin, is tasked with traveling back in time for an “on-study” to study medieval England to see how they lived their life. But an accident during the time traveling process sends her to the wrong time and she ends up smack in the middle of the Black Plague, watching everyone in the village around her die in the most painful ways imaginable. Meanwhile, parts of the plague have slipped through the opening between time and infected the future. As a team in the future deals with a global pandemic, modern quarantines, and the modern reaction to sickness and death (while trying to get her home), Kivrin must deal with a pandemic of similar scale, but on a much more local level and with much fewer resources. It’s a beautiful and fascinating tale of courage and finding dignity and comfort amidst death and disease on a massive scale, throughout time. Amazing book, wonderfully told.

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