Wells, Robison. Black Out. HarperTeen, 2013. 432p. $17.99. 978-0-06-202612-5.
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.
We’re finally at the end of shameless self-promotion. Well, For now. Anyway, the point is: the book launch is tomorrow, and you I’d love to have you there. All 180 eclairs want you to show up. All of my books want you to show up. And if you do show up, I’llgive you a big sloppy kiss.
I mean, I’m agoraphobic, and I’m going.
7-9 October 3rd
King’s English Bookstore
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.)
Writers have to maintain a web presence, be it blogging on Twittering or Facebooking or Tumblring, and one of the simplest ways for authors to blog, Tweet, Facebook, and Tumbl is to complain. We complain about deadlines and about writers block and about how much we need chocolate and how painful it is to kill our darlings. And you know what? Yeah, it’s kind of hard. But you know what is harder? Real jobs.
To quote Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters: “You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector… they expect results!”
The thing is I’ve worked in the private sector. I think a lot of writers have worked in the private sector and they fled it as soon as they possibly could, because writing full time–even when getting less money and terrible benefits–is a better life than working for the private sector.
That’s why I find so much of the cultural ephemera that surrounds authors to be not only silly but often downright offensive. Signs like “Writer at Work–Only Disturb if You Want to Be Written Into My Next Book” seem so incredibly ungrateful: you’re living the dream! You’re a writer! Maybe you’re not getting as much money as you want, but you’re getting the pleasure of loving your job! Think about what percentage of people can say that they really love their job–it’s small, tiny probably. And you’re doing it!