Connie Willis pulled out all the stops for this dynamo of a novel, utilizing such ordinarily disparate elements as a post-quasi-apocalypse near future, a deadly contagion, and time travel. Yet though its narrative action is divided between two fairly disparate temporal settings, Doomsday Book maintains a fairly urgent sense of suspense, a remarkable feat to accomplish in any 550-page book. Though there are times when the pace slows considerably, Willis is careful to pull back and switch settings, always seeming to change just when the current story becomes the slightest bit tiresome or when the reader begins to get curious about the concurrent story. Willis also does a good job of handling narrative synchronicity, vital when juggling stories that take place in a future present and in the Middle Ages, where an intrepid time traveler has managed to go while on winter holiday at Oxford. Though any time travel system has its peculiar quirks, the one in this particular book has its rules fairly clearly outlined early enough that readers are inclined to believe it, and to accept a strange intertwining of past and present events, which crucially move along at a similar rate. And though the thematic link between the historical destination and the future is more obvious than insightful, it packs a dramatic wallop. Willis also explores the potential difficulties faced by a time traveler and- not so subtly, mind- highlights some of the necessary impossibilities faced by any historians, allowing her temporal voyage to highlight both the differences and similarities between our times and those past. That she manages to do this without becoming preachy is a testament to the author's restraint and, in another way, to the strength of her characters. Not everyone is likeable, but these seem to be living humans, not caricatures, and they all serve their respective purposes superbly. Even more remarkable is the strength of the medieval characters, and the author's ability to make them seem both of their times and relatable to ours, again without too much pomp or undue over-attention. Though the story can seem to drag at times, the book simultaneously seems to read quickly, and the accelerated pace of the third book is much appreciated after a not-so-suspenseful attempt at a Big Reveal. Regardless, everything about the book is executed nicely, with effective prose and obvious- and appreciated- deliberation. Doomsday Book can be a bit of a slog in the middle, but it is a remarkably executed hybrid novel well deserving of its many accolades.