Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Blackout (Blackout, #1)


BlackoutAuthor: Robison Wells
Series: Blackout, #1
Release date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Laura and Alec are trained terrorists.
Jack and Aubrey are high school students.
There was no reason for them to ever meet.
But now, a mysterious virus is spreading throughout America, infecting teenagers with impossible powers. And these four are about to find their lives intertwined in a complex web of deception, loyalty, and catastrophic danger—where one wrong choice could trigger an explosion that ends it all.


Once again I fell prey to a pretty cover. I just never learn, it seems. I’ll try to make this rant review as short and clear as possible. Please don’t hate me if I don’t succeed.

The story is very unstructured and immature, and the narrative technique is a bit odd, which is a euphemism for messy and poorly thought through. At first, the focus switches between two groups of teens from one chapter to the next, but as they get separated, the number of perspectives increases. Instead of focusing on the groups (not POVs in the usual sense) we get short chapters from Alec’s, Jack’s and Aubrey’s points of view. I suppose this was meant to help accelerate the pacing somewhat, but what it really did was stop me from connecting with any of the characters. The only one I felt even remotely sympathetic towards was Jack, but even that wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.

And yet, if there is a main character in this mess, it’s Aubrey, not Jack. And Aubrey is one of the whiny ones, insufferable and utterly self-absorbed. She does come to her senses later in the story, but by then it’s far too late.

In the beginning, while the two groups are still together, the second group of teens (Alec, Laura and Dan), commits unspeakable acts of violence without any real reason or justification. They are supposedly terrorists, but terrorists always have strong motivations that make sense to them, if not to us. This was just a group of teens with superpowers going around killing people and causing natural disasters for no apparent reason other than because they can. I really wish this had been done differently. Terrorism is something we all have to live with to some degree and the psychology of it, the motivations of these terrorists is a great foundation for a book. Approaching the subject this superficially is disrespectful and somewhat insulting. No author should write about such serious matters thoughtlessly and immaturely.

The treatment of the teens in Blackout, aside from being awfully unrealistic, was obviously heavily inspired by concentration camps in World War II. The shower scene reminded me so much of the shower stories from back then, except that Wells completely failed to address the psychological aspects of being stripped naked and forced to wash with a group of people. Regardless of whether the showers are harmless or not, the entire experience is hurtful and very degrading. And yet Wells just skips right over it like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

And how likely is it that the government would lock up every single teen in the country overnight? Where are the parents? Where are the human rights groups? Perhaps it’s silly to complain about credibility in a book about kids with superpowers, but this entire thing bordered on ridiculous.

I will now end my rant because I see no point in tormenting you guys any further. I think I’ve made myself pretty clear, but in case I haven’t, here’s my recommendation: don’t waste your time and don’t be fooled by the gorgeous cover.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, hava influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

21 comments:

  1. Aww, I'm so sorry you had to go through such a bad reading experience with this one. I hate unrealistic and messy narratives, so I'll definitely be skipping this one. I hope your next read is significantly better, Maja!

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  2. I wasn't a great fan of this either, the POVs were quite a pain the the brain, but the little romance was sweet.

    Fab rant/review, hon! <33

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  3. I feel ya, Maja, i feel ya.
    I tried reading this books when it first popped up on Edelweiss (I'm on their whitelist so sometimes it's very hard not to jump on the new shinnies they added), and after reading about 1/3 of it, I put it down and never got back to it. It just didn't pull me it at all. I was confused as to what was happening, weirded out by many aspects of it and overall just.. kind of bored. I like superhero stories as long as they're done right, but this one.. well, it lacked something essential for me.
    Thanks for your honest (as always) review! <3

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  4. Aw, snap! And damn! I, too, fell prey to the pretty cover and blurb and have this book sitting on my Kindle. Now, I'm not at all excited about it, though I'll have to read at least part of it to see if our assessments match up (and they usually do!). *sigh*

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  5. I am glad I am not the only one that had a hard time with this book! It is so hard being a cover whore sometimes! :P

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  6. Uh this seems like a really missed thing. I have read Melanie's review for this one and like you she didn't enjoy it. Anyhow this whole POV thing here seems really confusing and quite unnecessary. Also not connecting with characters is always a problem.
    Hope your next read will be amazing.
    Great review Maja :)

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  7. I will be passing on this one Maja! I almost always struggle when there's more than dual POVs, I just can never settle in and find myself wanting to stay with just one character in particular so I get frustrated when I'm bounced around to the others. And when one of those characters is whiny? Yikes. Hope whatever you read next is amazing!

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  8. Gorgeous cover indeed and I consider myself warned and won't be fooled by it! Thank you for the great review, Maja!

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  9. Not gonna be take in by the pretty cover then

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  10. I don't believe I've been reading good things about this one (but I also haven't seen many reviews yet). It honestly doesn't appeal to me too much based on the summary, but your review just makes me realize I REALLY would not like this one. Sorry it didn't work out!

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  11. Nope the pretty cover didn't lure me in! I hate when there are multiple POVs that go all over the place and it makes me feel disconnected. I don't think I have ever seen you on your blog give such a low rating so I know this is a book to pass on! Have a terrific weekend!

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  12. Shoot! I do think I will pass on this one. Oh I would be bothered by the same questions you have going. I can't believe that the author would pass on some great opportunities to really bring home a punch. Darn, the cover is pretty...

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  13. Booooooh, the publishers did it again. I hate it when a bad story is wrapped inside such a pretty cover.. and they made the blurb sound so interesting!

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  14. I'm so glad I didn't have my heart set on reading this one! Luckily I haven't had any urge to read this whatsoever. It sounds like it would drive me pure bonkers!

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  15. Yikes, I had high hopes for this one. I also got it to review, and thought it sounded amazing, I guess it was just poor execution. It kind of seems like this one is all over the place and the characters sound really juvenile and annoying. Great review though, I'll be keeping it in mind when I get to this one!

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  16. Aww I was liking the blurb because it kinda sounds like Steelheart but then I scrolled down a little and saw your rating - oops. I enjoyed reading your rant though. The characters do sound annoying. I hate whiny protags. They are such a turn-off! Thanks for the review, Maja!

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  17. I actually liked this and while not without flaws, it kept my attention. I really don't mind the multiple POVs and as for the government scooping up kids I really didn't find it all that far-fetched. While I agree he could have touched on the psychological aspects of this more, I think he did address some of it. Wonderful review and I am sorry this one didn't work for you.

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  18. How could this book not be awesome with a premise like that?! This makes me so mad. Obviously plots are being conjured by the wrong authors because stories are not being told/written correctly. >.<

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  19. I was initially intrigued by hearing this book compared to the X-Men but ... causing natural disasters for no particular reason? Hmm. No. I agree with you about the ill-handling of that being a touch disrespectful. Yikes. I was interested in reading this one but I don't think I'll be giving this one a shot. Thanks for the honest review. :)

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  20. Oh goodness, this makes me so sad that Blackout turned out to be an utter disappointment (and failure?). I was so looking forward to this one, but so many things went wrong with it, it seems. The POVs seem really confusing, and I'm not liking how Wells disrespects terrorism. He isn't clear on the WW2 references/shower scenes, and that just seems odd to me. I have a review copy of this so I might still pick it up, but I'll definitely go into with caution now. Very well-written and informative review, Maja!

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  21. Oh dear! I was sent this book but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to force myself to read it now. Terrorism is definitely a relevant topic today, and I'm sad that this book didn't handle it in a way that was thoughtful or psychologically relevant at all. Also, I know I'll struggle with the multiple switching viewpoints. Thanks for vetting this one for me!

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