Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Black Out is a Knock Out

Teenagers can be unpredictable. Teenagers with extreme supernatural powers are an entirely different phenomenon altogether. In Robison Wells' Blackout, a virus has changed some teens into powerful individuals who could rival the X-Men. 

Aubrey's secret landed her a connection to the most powerful girl in school, and as a result, she has gotten a taste of popularity. She had to ditch her previous friends, but becoming invisible at will has been a gateway into the popular crowd. Unfortunately, now that she is there, she isn't sure she wants to stay there. At the school dance, her invisibility lets her hear just what people really think of her, but her own self-torture is cut short when a group of soldiers storm the school and round up the kids. Luckily, her invisibility helps her escape, but not before she watches her date hulk out and attack the soldiers. After he is killed in front of everyone, Aubrey realizes she has to get out of there. She sees Jack, a friend from what feels like another lifetime, and they manage to escape, but they know life as they knew it has changed. 

Meanwhile, Laura, Dan and Alec are following through with their mission. As they attack specific targets using their powers, they know they are achieving maximum damage, not only to their targets, but also to the American sense of security. When they appear to be trapped, however, they will go to great lengths to escape, even if it means sacrificing one or more of the group. As they get split up, the world around them is scrambling to try and stop the terrorist attacks. But that isn't easy when you are fighting your own adolescent population who have powers the government can't even fully understand yet. With no choice but to fight fire with fire, the government makes a bold decision: kids with powers can help in the fight against the other kids with powers. In a draft like no other, the newly talented children of the United States find themselves with a decision that will forever change their lives... again. 

While the few plot holes and multiple POVs that narrate the story were occasionally in the con column for me with this story, I actually really enjoyed it overall. The powers of the kids were fascinating, and since the kids weren't born with them, there was a great element of "coming into your own" with whatever ability you got. Some were scary (the ability to compel people to do anything) and some appeared trivial (the ability to change the color of something), but kids were at different stages of comfort with their new-found abilities, and the adjustment period was intriguing. I also really liked Aubrey and Jack, so following them around became my favorite part of the story. Of course, Laura, Alec, and Dan's parts of the story were creepy, to say the least, but there was more to that story than we get in this installment of the new series. 

That was one of the biggest plot holes. We know there is a purpose for Laura, Alec, and Dan's destruction, and the government explains the systematic attacks, but we never really find out who or what is behind the terrorist activities. Someone is certainly leading them, but even the kids don't have the full story. While it was definitely a plot hole, I suspect it will be cleared up in installments to come and the hole didn't really interfere with your understanding of the story. You will find yourself trying to figure out who it could be, but you can still understand the story without that information. Also, the multiple POVs can be confusing occasionally, but I thought Wells did a good job of bouncing around and still keeping the reader focused and connected. I have seen this technique go horribly awry before, but Wells was quite adept at it. I also know this technique is a "love it or hate it" move, so if you don't like multiple POVs, this story will certainly bug you. 

This was a fun and intriguing start to a promising series, and I am looking forward to where Robison goes with it. It feels a little like the Avengers meets the Breakfast Club, but in a great way! It is appropriate for any strong reader who can keep up with the different narrators throughout the story. They will flip the last page dying to know what happens next!

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