I had such a stretch of reading great dystopian/apocalyptic books that I was lulled into thinking it was hard NOT to write a good one since they contain some of the best storytelling elements…action, danger, emotions, heroics, etc. I was starting to worry that people would think I don’t have a critical eye when it comes to this kind of literature because most of my reviews are pretty positive and I am always in awe of author’s who can imagine the dire conditions and consequences of these stories. So in a way I am grateful to Robison Wells for his book, Blackout because I didn’t like it very much.
Before I go further, I should say I respect anyone who has the discipline to sit down and finish writing a book and then hustles to get it published. However, I don’t have to like the results. Also, I will say that I liked Robison Wells’ other book Variant, though I thought the sequel Feedback fell off the rails.
This book is about teens with special powers. Some of them are terrorists who were injected with something that gave them their powers and they were raised in sleeper cells to become terrorists. Others are teens who have accidentally developed these powers without knowing why. When the former ones successfully target and destroy power plants, bridges and American landmarks, all teens are rounded up by the government and tested to see which ones have powers.
Trailer trash Aubrey was always overlooked until popular girl Nicole discovers her ability to be invisible and cuts a deal to make her popular in exchange for her using her skills to spy on their classmates. Aubrey abandons her former best friend Jack to become part of the inner circle, however it’s Jack who is there when during a high school dance the military surrounds the school and Aubrey’s date morphs into something she has never seen and is killed. They go on the run to escape the roundups, but once they are caught and interned they come into contact with the other type of teens with superpowers.
Although they are the main characters and the good guys, neither Aubrey or Jack are very compelling and their relationship is a bad teen cliché. You also have to suspend belief to think that the families of the taken teens wouldn’t be trying harder to rail against their being taken away. Even the kids who test negative for powers are still kept locked up. Then there are the terrorist teens, little is explained about where they really came from and what their cause is. The book read more like a bad CW show, you know teen characters, romance, action but not much substance. I also tend to have problems with anything that includes superpowers, it’s just too neat a way to always get out of bad situations, really if anyone had these kinds of superpowers they would be essentially invincible, so it’s hard to believe that the military could round them up and keep them locked up. There was nothing exciting or unexpected or thought provoking in this book, with the latter being one of the reasons I typically like the dystopian and post apocalyptic genres. I am not even sure this book can truly be classified as either one. In this case although the military does take them, they are just trying to protect the U.S. and are only acting as that institution would in a state of emergency, they are not the typical dystopian power hungry totalitarian government.
There’s a sequel, but I will cut my losses with this series.