"Fast, tense, thrilling — and timely: this will happen one day. Highly recommended." —Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series
This is no accident.
This is no act of God.
This is a Blackout.
When the lights go out one night, no one panics. Not yet. The lights always come back on soon, don’t they? Surely it’s a glitch, a storm, a malfunction. But something seems strange about this night. Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electrical grids collapse. There is no power, anywhere.
A former hacker and activist, Piero investigates a possible cause of the disaster. The authorities don’t believe him, and he soon becomes a prime suspect himself. With the United States now also at risk, Piero goes on the run with Lauren Shannon, a young American CNN reporter based in Paris, desperate to uncover who is behind the attacks. After all, the power doesn’t just keep the lights on—it keeps us alive.
Europe is plunged into darkness, followed by further disasters, in Elsberg's U.S. debut, an uneven thriller, which was a bestseller in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The blackout, which starts in Italy and is caused by computer hackers with vague dreams of disrupting the world order, quickly spreads north. Elsberg does a good job capturing how life could break down when we lose our main power source. Within days, food riots erupt in major cities, all forms of transportation and communication cease, nuclear power plants leak radiation, and some governments fall to military coups. The plot is told largely through vignettes of various groups of people and their individual struggles. Central among the book's characters are former hacker and activist Piero Manzano and CNN reporter Lauren Shannon. Together, Piero and Lauren try to find the cause of the power loss, though for a while the authorities suspect that they are involved themselves. The plot's tension suffers, however, because so little of the story is devoted to the culprits behind the disaster and their intentions. The story's high point is a one-page shoving match toward the end when one of the hackers is wrestled to the ground and taken into custody. Readers might expect more pop after an entire continent is brought to its knees.