Kirkus has given an awesome review of Blackout!
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)
So you know that secret project that I keep talking about on Twitter and Facebook? Here it is.
Massive Fiction is a Kickstarter project aimed at helping people learn how to write. It’s based on the educational concept of scaffolding: rather than having to do all the work on your own, supports are put into place so that you only have to add certain pieces.
In this case, we’re writing three novellas (by me, Dan Wells, and Marion Jensen). These will establish the world, characters, conflicts and backstory. Then six other authors (Kiersten White, Larry Corriea, Brodi Ashton, Erin Bowman, Jessica Day George, and J Scott Savage) will each create story stubs: first pages or first chapters that will give you a launching pad for starting your own story.
This can be used in a classroom setting: a teacher could assign students to read one of the novellas and then use one of the story stubs to start a creative writing project. Or, it could be used by more advanced writers: take the world we’ve created and run with it. It’s all going to be presented under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so you could even take what you’ve written in our world and publish it as your own.
And, if you’re just a reader, not a writer, you’ll still get three great novellas to read. Take a look at our Kickstarter page and donate if you can.
Now that Feedback has been out for a while and you’ve all hopefully had a chance to read it and Variant, I thought it would be fun to go back through the book and to discuss my thoughts about the book in more detail. I plan to blog about three chapters every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (I did the same thing for Variant, the first of which can be found here.) These blogs will be FULL OF SPOILERS. They’ll be a little about the world, a little about the characters, and a lot about the writing process. Think of it like the Director’s Commentary on a DVD: a little behind-the-scenes look at how each chapter came to be. Hope you enjoy. BE PREPARED FOR SPOILERS. THESE BONUS FEATURES ARE WRITTEN ASSUMING YOU’VE READ THE ENTIRE BOOK–BOTH FEEDBACK ANDVARIANT, NOT JUST THE CHAPTERS MENTIONED. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
–Becky says that when she gets sick she has math dreams. That’s something that I get: when I have a fever I dream about impossible geometry problems. It’s very frustrating.
–This is where we see them putting together the pieces of the progression of the school, and where the importance of that “Steffen Metalworks” pipe comes in. I like Becky’s comments about the androids running on steam, because that would seem to make sense with what they know about the world and history. But that’s not how Maxfield works.
–When Jane says “That’s bad and good”, in response to the discussion about moving to a different facility for adults, it’s the first time in this book that we really see her scared mindset: she’s every bit as afraid of escape as her dupe was, and she thinks that maintaining the status quo is her best attempt at survival.
–As quirky as he is, and as overconfident as he is, Harvard has spent a lot of time on his theory, and he makes a lot of sense. And their explanation (that it’s the government that is keeping them there) makes perfect sense given their assumptions. The problem is that they’re not thinking big enough, or wild enough.
–I like the exchange with Mason. Mason points out to Benson “You never change”, but Mason doesn’t appear to have changed either. (We’ll see later that, yes, Mason does. But it’s because he reaches a desperate breaking point.)
–In a way, Benson’s actions here illustrate everything that Benson is about. He does something dangerous and impetuous and then gets other people involved in his plan almost against their will. Granted, Harvard is more than happy to get involved in the disection of Iceman, but it brings down Maxfield’s wrath on the whole town.
–I love Carrie, and how she is still completely in love with Curtis, even though he doesn’t actually know her.
–Becky counts the gangs, and gets at one of the key points of Variant: that The Society is not made up of androids: it’s made up of kids who are militant in their obedience. They are, like I talked about in that book, based on the Straight Edge gang, or on the kids in The Third Wave. Becky here is deflated to learn that they, who had been the bad guys, are almost entirely human. And so is Isaiah, their leader.
–The court here was originally written as a series of inquisitions or interrogations. It was interesting, but I found that it was more dynamic to include three different people getting interrogated at once. It made the pace faster, and it made the conversations more heated. It brought back some of the paranoia that had been so prevalent in Variant.
–And ultimately, this isn’t about Gabby or Skiver. This is an ambush for Isaiah, a trial for him. Well, less of a trial and more of a shaming and a sentencing. Isaiah doesn’t get to defend himself, and there’s no one there to defend him. I love this scene because, for as bad as Isaiah was, and as much as Birdman is correct on many issues, you really feel bad for Isaiah. You feel bad for Gabby and Jane and Shelley, too, and even bad for Benson and Becky. This is a scene where Birdman unleashes everything he has, let’s his power go to his head, and essentially orders a murder.