Reviews for Blackout


Booklist Reviews 2013 October #1
Superpower-laden high-school students tangle with terrorists in Wells' YA sci-fi dystopian novel as it marches along a somewhat shaky route, with a boilerplate plot that borrows from Heroes and X-Men. Teenager Aubrey has managed to survive an alcoholic father and poverty, but that all changes when she discovers the power to literally vanish. Her classmate Jack has had to take a menial job that estranges him from his friends. When a militia force rolls into prom and rounds up the bewildered kids, it turns out they are seeking Lambdas, or teenagers infected with a virus that somehow causes them to develop superpowers. Aubrey and Jack get sent to a detention camp and eventually meet determined terrorists Alec and Laura. For the teens, discovering the bigger picture means leaving behind childhood and deciding which side is the right one to be on. While the characters are oddly flat and lack emotional connection, the small-town Utah setting frames this as an every-person story. The promise of a series and a huge cliff-hanger ending should entice some readers to follow the characters and events. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
The U.S. military is rounding up teenagers to prevent a virus from giving them superhuman powers. Aubrey and Jack are among them; they're then recruited to fight the terrorists (also infected teens) targeting the country's infrastructure and landmarks. Despite a clumsy romance and some frustrating mysteries (like the terrorists' motivation), this is a unique, tense start to a series.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
Wells' new novel brings home all the uncertainty and fear that comes from the threat of modern warfare waged with terror. Life in small-town Utah is relatively simple for Aubrey, Nicole and Jack. Fitting in, being popular and getting by are their priorities, until the night of the homecoming dance. They've heard about the terrorist attacks being carried out across the country, but nothing has prepared them for the mass roundup of all teens by the U.S. military. A virus has been discovered, leaving some teens with superpowers. Aubrey can become invisible, Jack can read minds, and Nicole can make everyone like her. Some teens were infected on purpose, evaluated for their powers and trained to carry out terrorist attacks designed to bring America to its knees. The government is now fighting back, quarantining all teens to identify those with powers that can be used to establish a new line of defense. But can they really be effective as a defense if they can't tell who among their friends and co-workers is really working for the other side? Wells clues readers in, though, keeping tension high. While the end brings the immediate episode to a conclusion of sorts, more and bigger conflicts loom. In a world where terrorism is an increasing threat, this fast-paced book brings it home. (Thriller. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #1
Wells' new novel brings home all the uncertainty and fear that comes from the threat of modern warfare waged with terror. Life in small-town Utah is relatively simple for Aubrey, Nicole and Jack. Fitting in, being popular and getting by are their priorities, until the night of the homecoming dance. They've heard about the terrorist attacks being carried out across the country, but nothing has prepared them for the mass roundup of all teens by the U.S. military. A virus has been discovered, leaving some teens with superpowers. Aubrey can become invisible, Jack can read minds, and Nicole can make everyone like her. Some teens were infected on purpose, evaluated for their powers and trained to carry out terrorist attacks designed to bring America to its knees. The government is now fighting back, quarantining all teens to identify those with powers that can be used to establish a new line of defense. But can they really be effective as a defense if they can't tell who among their friends and co-workers is really working for the other side? Wells clues readers in, though, keeping tension high. While the end brings the immediate episode to a conclusion of sorts, more and bigger conflicts loom. In a world where terrorism is an increasing threat, this fast-paced book brings it home. (Thriller. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 August #4

Wells (Variant) knows how to snare readers' attention and hold them spellbound. In this unnerving thriller, he ingeniously connects the stories of four teens--all afflicted with a bizarre virus that has given them powers ranging from super-strength and invisibility to mind control--who live in an America under siege by terrorists intent on taking out the country's landmarks, power grids, and populace. The catch? The terrorists are also teenagers infected with the same virus. The army is forced to round up the nation's youth for testing and quarantine, making it difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Wells allows the intensity of the story and the heart and soul of each character to shine through. He doesn't overcomplicate matters with lengthy explanations or political background, and instead lets the teens take center stage: Jack and Aubrey, who just want to stay together and stay alive; Alec and Laura, who are full of vengeance and hate. There is no shortage of white-knuckle action or eyebrow-raising violence--fans of Wells's earlier work won't be disappointed. Ages 13-up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 November

Gr 7 Up--When a virus gives teens superpowers (some more super than others) and terrorist attacks erupt across the country, the military detains all teens for testing and quarantine. Aubrey, who can become invisible (sort of), is reunited with her childhood friend Jack after having ditched him for Nicole's popular crowd, and they must decide where they stand. There's no real questioning of the government rounding up young people, performing medical tests on them, detaining them indefinitely, and essentially coercing then into military service. This should raise serious concerns, but the good (or good enough) guys are always the government, and the bad guys are always the terrorists. Their motivation is only hinted at toward the end of the book, leaving them nothing more than stock sadists. While Jack does mention options other than working with the government (like fleeing to Mexico), they're never seriously considered. Even when the government betrays them and they're wanted for supposedly double-crossing their handlers, Jack and Aubrey turn themselves in, and, after a simple confession, all misunderstandings are cleared up and the two are back on the team. This lack of ethical concerns and the required suspension of disbelief will disappoint some readers, but the threat of terrorism and a too-powerful government are highly relevant today, making this novel easy to recommend. And while the immediate action is wrapped up at the end, a shocking final line propels readers into greater conflicts for future books-where they might get more answers. A one-dimensional start with room to grow.--Gretchen Kolderup, New York Public Library

[Page 120]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2013 October
Everything is going great for Aubrey at her first high school dance. At least until her date manifests superhuman powers and the army comes to take all the teenagers away on buses. Although Aubrey manages to escape and meet up with her friend, Jack, they are not safe--terrorist attacks are occurring throughout the United States and the army is investigating all teenagers for a strange virus that gives them superhuman powers. When Aubrey and Jack encounter the army, they must decide whether the military can be trusted. Meanwhile, the book also follows the parallel story of two other teenagers, Laura and Alec. These teenagers have been trained their entire lives to be terrorists, but will they accomplish their goals This fast-paced book will keep readers guessing. It is not the virus that creates superhuman powers that makes this book interesting, but rather the characters' reactions to it. Some are terrified, some delight in using their powers, and others work to manipulate it to their own ends. Readers will be kept wondering about the true intentions of many of the characters. Many readers will also enjoy the romantic element. The action, character development, and fast-paced plot will make it an appealing choice that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of young readers.--Erika Schneider 4P 4Q J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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