Blackout by Marc Elsberg – terrifyingly good read

I’ve just finished reading Blackout by Marc Elsberg, translated from German by Marshall Yarbrough (Sourcebooks). It has been recommended to me by a translator friend who said that not only was  it a good book, the translation was great too. When something is built up so much, it can sometimes disappoint. This one certainly didn’t.

The action takes place in various countries across the Europe and is a terrifying look at what might feasibly happen were our electricity supply to be tampered with by terrorists. Across Europe, the power is cut leaving the population to deal with the consequences. And it’s not just things like lights and TVs, it’s electric pumping systems for petrol stations, electric door systems, electric milking systems for dairy farmers, electrically-managed ordering systems for supermarkets – the list goes on!

The writing is fast-paced, cutting from one country to the next in short bursts, often ending on a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to read on to find out what happened. One of those books where you say to yourself, “just one more page,” and finallytear yourself away half an hour later! The different stories and protagonists are cleverly interwoven so while there is a lot going on and a lot of people involved, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly complicated. I think the appeal lies also in the scope of characters – there are parents with young children, there are older people, infirm people, people with medical conditions – everybody can identify with at least one of the groups. There’s also a love element in the background as well, so this book really has a lot going for it. But be warned, after you finish it, you may feel the need to install a wood burning stove and start stockpiling food, just in case…

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