Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Review: Blackout by Robison Wells

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Blackout by Robison WellsBlackout by Robison Wells
Series: Blackout #1
Published by HarperTeen on October 1st 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi, YA
Source: HarperCollins
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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.

Hmm.. I didn’t really get the point of this book. It would have helped if we had gotten some world building, surely. Basically we’ve got these kids who have a virus that gives them powers. They get used by the army to try to stop kids with cooler powers. The end.

It’s a shame, really, because until a bit passed the middle – which is when I realized this book wasn’t really going anywhere – I was quite enjoying it. I thought the idea of it all was creative and exciting. the powers ranged from funny, to intriguing, to kind of badass. The characters were also fairly interesting (though the narrative switches were sometimes sloppy). But in the end I still don’t know what this book was trying to be. Is it a mindless action thriller? Is it a post-apocalyptic novel? Is it a sci-fi genetic engineering story? Is it a war story? It’s kind of all of these things, I suppose, all jumbled into a plot without purpose or direction, that is.

During the first part of the novel we meet characters who mention they were injected with something and trained by their parents for… the current war I’m guessing. This war which is lead by teenagers in small groups doing terrorist-like attacks all over the country. That is basically all we get as far as world building. We don’t learn why they were given these power nor who’s behind it all, and in turn, we don’t know the purpose of this war. Additionally, we only get a brief account of the war itself, mostly what has been targeted. We don’t know how it started, nor society’s reaction to it. We strictly concentrate on these character’s lives and present thoughts which gives us a very narrow view of everything. It’s also frustrating because this book is told through several perspectives, one of them being one of the terrorists, yet we don’t get any significant details, still.

The book did have great potential and maybe the series as a whole will be better. The action was pretty exciting for the most part, with some great suspenseful scenes using some really cool powers – I loved the school invasion/monster in basement bit. As for this book being realistic, however, it was definitely not. We spend most of the book in a military base camp where they have captured infected teenagers and treat them like prisoners with no rights or dignity, yet the psychological side of things is blatantly ignored. And how did they go about imprisoning every teenager in the country in a matter of days without much retaliation from anybody inside or out, including the parents? Oh wait, some did go and form a protest. I think they even had signs.

Another small annoyance was how randomly, between random paragraphs, we’d get some sort of journal entry from an anonymous person complaining about something or someone of irrelevance. There is a purpose to this which we find out near the end, but it still came off as annoying and kind of a distraction at the time you read it. I don’t think it had the effect the author was going for.

Like I said, this one might be better read as a series, but I can’t say I’m much interested in continuing with it myself, so let me know if it suddenly turns into a mind-blowing-must-read, eh?


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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22 Responses to “Review: Blackout by Robison Wells”

  1. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I didn’t feel like there was much to this book either but I did find it relatively enjoyable- Jack had to be my favorite character. We never really know why the terrorist terrorise or where the disease came from etc. I hope there are more answers in the sequel.

    Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  2. Haley @ YA-Aholic

    Hmm, not sure if I want to pick this one up after reading your review. I think I shall wait till book 2 comes out and see if people say it gets better. It does sound very interesting and good though based off of the blurb. Great review as always Giselle! (:

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    It’s a shame that this was one of those books that didn’t really have a plot. I’ve read a couple of those this year and it really annoys me when I feel like a book is not going anywhere. Plus, lack of world-building? Yeah, no.
    At least, the action part was well written. I’m going to be giving this one a miss.
    Thanks for the honest review, Giselle.

  4. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    This was terribly disappointing to me too, especially the terrorism parts, since we were never given any reason or motivation, or even the person/group behind it. It seemed poorly thought out and… oddly disrespectful.
    I completely failed to connect with the characters too, which isn’t something I’m ready to forgive.
    Ah, well, can’t win them all. Fabulous review, Giselle.

  5. xtina@moydrookreads

    excellent honest review. thanks for sparing me from having to read this one, because the premise does sound intriguing and i could have seen myself being lured into buying it. but your review makes a pretty solid case against it…sloppy world building is one of my biggest pet peeves in YA books.

  6. Christianna

    Bummer I was super excited about this one. Sounds like if the world building had been better it would have been a knock out. Let’s hope that the rest of the books get better!

  7. Pili

    A really great review, Giselle!
    I’ll probably skip this one, not keen on reading action without world building or explanations.

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    Great review Giselle, I loved those coded text messages and like you at first I wasn’t sure what they were, but once I knew I found them to be clever. I am hoping we get some serious answers in the next book.

  9. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    I love super power books, so I think I would like that part of the story, but the war seems crazy! Teenagers doing terrorist type attacks all over the place. I’m not so sure about that. But it does seem like an interesting and unique book.

    Thanks for the great review Giselle!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  10. Candace

    It seems like the reviews I’m seeing are saying the same thing, that it’s lacking in world building. I haven’t had an urge to read this so I suppose that’s a good thing.

  11. Aylee

    Bah! How disappointing. Because you’re right, it really did seem to have a lot of potential. I really hate when the world building doesn’t make sense or is lacking. And you should absolutely NOT have to read it as part of a series to make sense of it; you should be able to get a good idea of it from the first book. Ah, oh well. Thanks for this very helpful review, Giselle – I’ll be skipping this one now.

  12. Aman

    I just read the premises for the first time and it sounded phenomenal, too bad that the story didn’t live up to it. Too many pov’s alone would distract me, add various genres to it and I’ll be confused as hell. It’s better to skip it. Thanks for the great review, Giselle! 🙂

  13. Ellen

    Well, I was really hoping this would be better. Your’s is the second review I’ve read so far on this book, and the other reviewer wasn’t crazy about it either. I have it to review also, but I am kind of not wanting to at this point. Hopefully, it will improve as the series progresses.

  14. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I’m reading the prequel novella right now, so maybe that will give me some insight into this, but the characters aren’t even the same… I’m already confused. Anyways, I was really excited for this one. I am still going to give it a try. I hope I have better luck with it than you did.