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.
Title: Blackout (The Darkness Rising #1)
Author: Madeleine Henry
Source: Finished copy from author
Publication date: June 20, 2014
I received Blackout from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Before Blackout, I hadn’t read a dystopian in quite a while. Well, I read The One in May, but it’s one of the few I’ve read all year. I’ve been reading so many contemporaries lately. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Blackout, but it wasn’t what I got. It was so good though! It has similarities to both The Hunger Games and The One, but it’s also similar to something else that would be a spoiler if I said what it is. There are reviews on Goodreads that give the whole thing away, so if you really need to know, go read one of those. That’s a warning to be careful on Goodreads if you don’t want to know.
Set sixty-seven years after solar flare hit the Earth, Blackout is narrated by Phoenix, the male DZ, as the citizens of the Dark Zone are called. That surprised me, as it seems like the obvious choice for a female YA author would be to write from the female DZ’s point of view. I really like Phoenix, though, so I’m glad that Madeleine Henry went with him for the main character. Seen only through Phoenix’s eyes, Star is a weaker character and I don’t know if I like her that much. Not much time is spent on their relationship at the beginning of the book. Phoenix seems to believe he’s deeply in love with Star — and that she loves him too — but they seem to be together out of convenience to me. There are only seven families — twenty-four people in all — left in Dark DC, and most of them are adults. I hope Phoenix and Star don’t end up together at the end of the trilogy, but if they do I can’t say I wasn’t warned in advance.
Right now, my pick for Phoenix would be Elektra. After Phoenix, Elektra is probably my favorite character. They’re thrown together, along with another boy named Tinder, as roommates in America. (Most dystopians give their characters unusual names with no explanation. Blackout actually gives that information: DZs all have names that symbolize light and warmth — Flint, Spark, Wick, Aura, and Burn.) Elektra is a Shadow, one of the mysterious elite DZs who are the best hunters and fighters and are rarely seen by the rest of the DZs. She’s strong, smart, and a fast-thinker, but there are hints that her life as a Shadow is not easy.
I like Tinder, too. At first meeting, he seems timid and weak. He is physically weak — skinny, with knobby knees — but I think there’s a quiet strength to him. He stands up for himself when he needs to. I think he will end up being an asset to Phoenix as the trilogy moves along. I hope Phoenix learns to rely more on Elektra and Tinder and to dwell less on what he thinks Star might be doing.
Blackout is pretty short, but a lot happens in those 182 pages. I hate being so vague, but I really can’t talk about the plot without giving away spoilers. The ending brings a lot of information all at once and of course it ends with a cliffhanger just as Phoenix is discovering what he and his companions are really in for. It made me wish I already had the next book to read. It’s not out yet…maybe soon?