Being a historian should be easier when you have a time machine and lots of tea…
It’s easy to set to set a single tone – juggling tones is a lot harder. The title and the start of One Damn Thing suggest a particular style that I love, wry British comedy, and when operating in the mode of hard work, punishing bureaucracy, farcical romance and endless tea, it’s a very enjoyable book. Unfortunately, the humor is juxtaposed with a story of grueling training, punishing missions, and physical and sexual violence. It’s not that these things can’t be pulled together, Black Adder goes forth being a topical example, it’s just that it requires a mastery of tone that just isn’t present here.
All of this is before we get to the Elephant in the room. It’s not fair, but if you write a book about a female, time traveling historian, you are going to draw comparisons to one of the best regarded science fiction books of all time, Connie Willis’ The Doomsday Book.1 Given the quality of what’s on offer here, if the idea of this book sounded interesting you are far better reading that.
A good comedy combined with a terrible drama makes a disappointing mess.