Blackout by Kit Mallory
Publication Date: May 8th 2018
Series: Blackout #1
Blurb: After the Board came to power the world changed the way a hunter stalks its prey: all paranoia and imagined flickers of shadow, so that while you were being torn to pieces you were still wondering whether you were overreacting.
For 16-year-old Skyler, fear is a way of life. For three years, since the Wall split the UK in two, her survival as an illegal Northern refugee in the South has been a perilous balancing act between staying in the shadows and clinging to her reputation as the South’s best hacker.
Fellow refugee Mackenzie is a ghost from her past she’d rather ignore. But when their paths collide unexpectedly, Skyler sees an opportunity to exact revenge on the brutal regime that destroyed her home and family – even if it means she goes down with them.
Forced, with extreme reluctance, on the run together, Skyler and Mackenzie, along with enigmatic contract killer Angel, must find a way to outrun not only the Board and the South’s most sadistic crime lord, but their own personal demons. If they can manage to not end up murdering each other in the process, that’ll be a bonus.
But more is at stake than any of them realise. And Skyler, who has long believed she has nothing left to lose, is about to discover just how wrong she is.
Blackout is set in the not-to-distant future in a divided UK. Three years prior to the beginning of the book a wall was built dividing the north and south. Those in the South had some chance to etch out a comfortable life for themselves, but for those in the North life as they knew it collapsed.
Skyler and Mackenzie are from the North but circumstances and heavy losses saw them find their way over the wall to the South. There, they do what it takes to survive in a world that would see them dead. Skyler is a hacker working for a sadistic crime lord. Mackenzie is a thief, working for whoever can pay him. Everything changes when Mackenzie picks up a USB on his most recent mission, neither Mackenzie nor Skyler know what’s on it but the Board will kill whoever necessary to get it back.
“After the Board came to power the world changed the way a hunter stalks its prey: an inch at a time, all paranoia and imagined flickers of shadow, so that while you were being torn to pieces you were still wondering whether you were overreacting.”
Skyler is an unlikable protagonist, which is exactly what makes her such a likeable one. Skyler is selfish and angry and isn’t afraid to do what it takes to look after herself. She has walls around her heart because the more you care about people the more you have to lose but one woman might just make her way through them.
Mackenzie on the other hand hasn’t quite been able to harden his heart and, though being a thief does mean working for some unsavoury people, he has never truly been able to cut off his feelings. But as Mackenzie and Skyer’s journey starts taking dangerous paths and Mack’s OCD worsens as his anxiety grows, there is little doubt someone will get hurt.
Blackout is an exciting and dark first instalment in the series and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked that Mallory didn’t shy away from the reality of Skyler and Mackenzie’s situation. They have no choice but to cross lines they’d rather not and there aren’t perfect solutions that mean nobody dies.
The rise of the Board and the wall is eerily similar to current world events so there is no need to suspend belief as to how such a future could arise with a foundation built on fear, mistrust and hate for the ‘other’. That said it would be nice to know a little more about the Board and who is involved and how they operate. Though given Blackout is only book one more information might be coming in book two and they are being kept mysterious for a reason.
“There’s gonna be blood, no matter what. You’re going to have to find a way of being okay with that.”
The last 15% of Blackout really kept me glued to my kindle and my heart pounding. It was everything you could want in an ending, wrapping up certain elements to keep you satisfied but a cliffhanger that leaves you ready for book two.
With mental illness rep, soft boys and queer girls Blackout is a great start to a dystopian series that I would definitely recommend.
*I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*