I recently finished reading Blackout by Marc Elsberg, which I received for free from NetGalley.
Blackout is an interesting story about most of Europe losing power during the winter. The story is not impossible to believe, and it is scary to think of the consequences of a blackout happening in real life. The book covers the short-term and long-term consequences of the blackout well including the immediate consequences of being trapped in elevators, car accidents, not being able to pump fuel, and having no heat. The book also discusses the more serious consequences like nuclear reactors overheating, problems with agriculture, people stealing/looting/rioting/price gouging, no public and cellular phone networks, and patients in hospitals dying. The chapters are separated as days since the blackout, and within each chapter the book constantly switches back and forth between locations and characters. I found this constant switching to be confusing, and I often questioned myself, “What happened here last and who is this again?” During the first half of the book especially, there are too many characters, and they all seem to blend together. Since there were so many characters and the book constantly kept switching between perspectives, I never felt connected to any of the characters, but I did enjoy reading the parts with Piero Manzano the most. Another part of the book I found confusing was when it discussed the technical aspects of the power plants and the programming systems for the electric companies. I actually stopped reading this book halfway through because it just got so overwhelming with all the characters, and I got tired of trying to keep track of who was who. After several months, I decided I would try to finish the book because I wanted to know how it ended. I finally finished the book several days later, and I found the ending bitter-sweet because there were still the long-term consequences of the blackout that needed to be dealt with. I did like the story, but I felt like all the different perspectives hurt it. I do not mind reading books that have multiple perspectives, and I have enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which had 3 perspectives, and Sublime Karma by Peyton Garver, which had 2. In both The Girl on the Train and Sublime Karma it was easy to keep track of the characters because there were only a few perspectives and each chapter was a new perspective. I understand Elsberg wanting to give multiple perspectives of the people involved in the blackout, but he could have gone about it a different way instead of having 10 or so perspectives that are constantly changing during each chapter.
Overall, Blackout by Marc Elsberg is an interesting story that makes you think about the consequences of a blackout in real life, but there are too many characters to keep track of which really hurts the core of the story.
$14.09 for Kindle at Amazon (also available in Hardcover and Paperback)