Author: Robison Wells
Series: Blackout, #1
Release date: October 1st 2013
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.