ARC Review: Blackout by Madeleine Henry

One wall divides life from darkness. After the worldwide Blackout, America built a concrete wall—the Frontier—across the middle of the nation to isolate its precious electricity in the top half. Everyone below the Frontier was forsaken, and now only a few survive in the grim region known as the Dark Zone.

Sixteen year old Phoenix Troublefield endures the dark with his girlfriend, Star Windsong. When America announces that it will trade electricity for immigrants, Phoenix and Star sacrifice themselves for the power that might save her younger brother. On the other side of the Frontier, they find America is not what they expected, and instead they are thrown into a shocking and deeply personal contest that threatens to destroy their love. When the chance comes to escape back into the Dark Zone, it may already be too late.


The story

In 2015, part of the sun erupted and the sun flare killed off every light on Earth. Everything went dark, and every electronic device dead. And that wasn't even the worse. After that, the temperature dropped drastically and the next morning the sun didn't rise.
Two month of nothing later a wall appeared on the border of Washington DC, but then nothing again. At least until the plagues came. And only after that did it happen, that the other side lit up. But not them. Not the Dark Zone.
Six decades after, Phoenix Troublefield spends his days in the dark, hunting and practising other surviving methods with his girlfriend. One day, during their usual evening walks they stumble upon something most unexpected, something that changes their loves. They wind up on the other side of the Frontier, and get to be a part of a game which can make the changes permanent. It looks, simple, but is it?

First Impression...

The very first thing I noticed was that how bloody descriptive it was. It literally depicted every single breath-taking, every single movement. (Thanks for letting me know how to eat an apple, by the way.) For the most part, the conversations were also only narrated.

Delving into it...

Later on, it got a tad bit less descriptive, or it's only that I got used to it, or maybe the dialogues made it less monotone, but at any rates, the worry I felt that I might get bored to death on the descriptions evaporated soon enough and I found myself being eager to read on. I put down it mostly to the plot, which was fast-paced and action-packed and intrigued me quite a lot. There were some twists that surprised me, however, the biggest one was just before the book's end. I believe, that is where the story really starts, where things get very juicy.

As for the characters, in this first installment, I haven't especially grown close to any of them. I have opinions, and who I like or dislike, but I need to learn a little more about them, to get to know them some more. Or rather, it's that I got to know them too much. I mean, they are not much of a mystery so far.

About everything else, there are some similarities with The Hunger Games (huge, luxury building to stay at during the “game”), and with The Maze Runner (sun flares, plagues, separation, experiment, etc.) Just to make it clear beforehand, I do not accuse anybody with anything. I merely point out a few things that you undoubtedly will notice, too, and it's better to clarify it sooner than later, isn't it? Of course. So let's get down to the point. I don't know how much was it on purpose or not, but I do believe all three have a place on the market. They are definitely different, and think about it. It's pretty logical that sun flares would inflict plagues in a dark and dangerous world and also that they'd try to stop it which implies experiments.

Bottom-line: I think the story and the background are still in need of a little polishing, but the series is promising and I'm looking forward to pick up the next book.

Cover: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
World building: 4/5
Style/Writing: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

About the author:

Madeleine Henry was born and raised in New York. This spring, she graduated from Yale University and began her adult life in New York City. 

Madeleine majored in psychology and wrote her senior essay on the extreme popularity of the Twilight book series. In college, she also ran a marathon and had a brief but enthusiastic stint as a stand-up comedienne. 

BLACKOUT is Madeleine's first book. Parts of the story are drawn from two weeks she spent foraging for food and water in desert Utah while enrolled in a survival skills field course. She has since recovered.

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