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Blackout #1


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One night, the lights go out across Europe. The electrical grids collapse on an epic scale and unleash a devastating chaos in the total blackout. And unbeknownst to the general population, nuclear reactors are starting to overheat…

When a former hacker and activist who knows a thing or two about infiltrating networks starts investigating the cause of this disaster, he soon becomes a prime suspect. As threats to the United States start to emerge, he goes on the run with a young American reporter based in Paris, racing desperately to turn the lights back on. Because if they stay off, tomorrow may be too late.

316 pages, Hardcover

First published March 19, 2012

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About the author

Marc Elsberg

16 books526 followers
Marc Elsberg is the pseudonym of Marcus Rafelsberger.

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5 stars
4,324 (33%)
4 stars
5,078 (39%)
3 stars
2,554 (19%)
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1 star
226 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,115 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
769 reviews3,500 followers
June 12, 2022
One of the living German speaking, Austrian born sci-fi authors I know besides Andreas Eschbach, Andreas Brandhorst, Philipp P Peterson, and others in military sci-fi I can´t remember at the moment, who are comparable to the ingenious UK and US authors.

I have seen this story before, no more electricity and the consequences over different periods of time, and Elsberg mixes some plotlines and thriller elements together for an entertaining read. It´s his only good work, his second, Helix is already far less compelling and I possibly won´t read his third one, Gier, because of the bad ratings.

But how does it come that there is no real European sci-fi, fantasy, and comedy market that is similar and especially competitive to the UK and US? There is no industry, no Hollywood, no great European sci-fi behemoth, no culture of progressive, good writing styles, no college bachelor and master degrees in creative writing, and a terrible book market focused on redundancy, repetitions, and boredom.

And, because the writers have close to no epic meta worldbuilding, no education in creative writing, and seem to strongly focus on letting characters tell the story with one rudimentary plotline in the background, it´s often like a normal novel about characters with some sci-fi elements, not a future world with characters living with the conditions of this world, fusing plot and protagonist to the full enjoyment of the US and UK sci-fi giants that let one live these lives in hundreds and thousands of years in the future. Eschbach is the same as Elsberg, just better writing, but if someone changed the sci-fi elements with horror, fantasy, or, yuck, fantastic realism, there would be no difference because the novel stays the same, average everyday literature camouflaged as sci-fi.

I have the suspicion that these authors are just successful because the conservative European readers and book market see the unbelievable potential of sci-fi the first time in their works while staying with the 85 to 95 percent average characterization storytelling on earth, to not having to leave their comfort zone with real, cool, amazing sci-fi.

As already said before in other reviews, the only real exception is Andreas Brandhorst, not just noticeable for his works comparable to Brin, Banks, Hamilton, and Corey, but because he is the ingenious German translator of Pratchett´s works too.
I´ve read 2 to 4 of his works and he owns everything else on the European book market. The irony is, of course, that others are much more successful with their superficial and trivial works, but that´s the familiar injustice of fate against truly creative and extraordinary people in places as boring and conservative as Central Europe.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books:
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,545 reviews24.6k followers
April 14, 2017
This is a thought provoking debut thriller which bleakly and realistically depicts the meltdown of the world as we know it when a hacker attack instigates a power blackout in Europe. On a cold dark winter's night in Milan Pietro Manzano is thrown out of his car as traffic lights no longer work and the electricity grid collapses. A former hacker, Manzano joins the efforts of those entrusted to restore power and tries to chase down who is behind it. To his dismay, his past has turned him into a prime suspect which forces him to go on the run with the Paris based American journalist, Shannon, in a desperate race to get the power switched back on and prevent a global catastrophe.

Initially people respond positively and well to the situation but it does not take long before all this changes. It is a real eye opener to read just how much of modern society's infrastructure is completely reliant on power. The seeds of unrest are sown as people become cold and hungry, and tragedies become inevitable. Nuclear power stations begin to pose dangers amidst other grave concerns. The story shifts from country to country including Germany, France, UK, Netherlands and Austria. Manzano and Shannon solidify as their relationship begins to develop. They become closer and more united, at the beginning things were more fraught between them. There is real tension and suspense as they frantically try to ensure power returns as escalating horrors take place as politicians prove to be ineffectual in their responses and corporations become more self serving.

This is a fast paced read that forensically examines and homes in on our reliance of power as the darkness begins to take hold. It does not seem that far fetched in its detailed descriptions of daily miseries that people have to face. The best part of the book is how it captures the unravelling of a contemporary society facing a tidal wave of incidents and tragedies accumulating. The story outlines just how vulnerable the world is with regard to its dependence on power, it's enough to make anyone paranoid. Some of the characters are a little too distant and emotionally closed for me but I liked the central characters of Pietro and Shannon. An apocalyptic read that is sure to make people think. Thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
August 26, 2017
Smart cars, smart TVs, smart phones. Has it ever crossed your mind that our society has become rather too dependent on these things? Shoot, those phones have practically taken root and grown to the hands of millions of users. There are few things that cannot be done on smart phones. For those of you who do your banking, your shopping, and everything else with those gadgets, you are about to be dead in the water.

Blackout presents a frightening look at what happens when the power grids collapse on an international level. Make a quick wish for some good ol' cash money, a simple flashlight, and maybe a bicycle. You are going to need them.
Profile Image for Carol.
824 reviews480 followers
June 21, 2017
The Hook - We’ve all been there. We depend on it, yet we take it for granted, electricity. In my head I can hear the sound I make when I lose power, the dread I feel that it could be hours or even days without, and the elation I feel when I hear the whir of my home coming back to life. I still remember the Northeast Blackout of November 1965, when my neck of the woods suffered an outage for thirteen hours. Though awful just for the magnitude of this event things can and have gotten worse. Living in the country brings new challenges when we lose power, sometimes for days. Water and toilets become the big issues. I rarely complain about the cost of electricity. I hate to live without it but love to read disaster fiction when the scenario presented is plausible yet still only happening on paper in the imagination of a good author.

The Line - ’The biggest challenge, however,’ Dienhof continued, ‘is that we don’t know hat we’re looking for. We’re searching in the proverbial haystack, but we have no idea if we’re looking for a needle, a tick, of a mushroom.’“

The Sinker - When the power went out at first it was just an irritation, an inconvenience. You know how that is. You’re in the middle of something that requires juice, lights go out, heats off or air-conditioning depending where you live, devices need charging, have to rummage for something to eat, and the worst, no TV. At first it’s almost fun, like a camping trip when you’re a kid, or perhaps you’re happy to disconnect from all that input for a few hours. Then the few hours become a day, then two, and then…What was at first a nuisance becomes devastating. As time goes by your world without power becomes a nightmare. The community that initially was all willing to pitch in and help, sharing food, and other commodities, now must focus on their own survival and that of their families. Survival, that’s the name of the game. It’s a disaster and the government is not talking even if you had a way to communicate with them.

Blackout is this and so much more. What begins as a simple power outage in Eastern Europe soon becomes the shutdown of electric grids across much of the world. In the first days the US, Russia and China are up and running. As is the norm the US is doing all they can to provide aid, but soon they too go dark. Who’s responsible? It’s apparent this is no fluke and someone; most likely a group, possibly terrorists or even a world power is messing with our lives. No one has prepared for the reality of this meltdown.

Marc Elsberg begins his award winning (Science Book of the Year" entertainment in Germany) in 2012) with a singular event that soon is seen to be a deliberate plot against all of us. He interweaves the science and technology with the strategy of the leaders of key countries as they seek solutions. We also follow a few story arcs of what’s happening to some of their families but hear little of the ordinary citizenry. It wasn’t so much the individual characters that interested me but the fate of the world.

There is reference to looting, to bedlam and more we can imagine. That’s the power of this book, the shear excitement in reading, feeling and thinking about the ramifications of this situation from the comfort of our armchairs.

At first the narrative device of telling the story in POV from the Eastern European bloc, quickly moving back and forth between these, was making it difficult to keep things straight. I went back and re-read some of this and soon was caught up in and couldn’t put the book down.

Along with the usual acknowledgements Elsberg has included an afterword with enlightening information about his research and reaction to his fictional work. Be certain to read this. These references provided further thought and additional reading material.

Blackout was first published in Germany and was released June 6th in the US. Edelweiss, Sourcebooks and Author, Marc Elsberg granted me the opportunity to read an advance copy. I couldn’t resist.
Profile Image for Zuza.
25 reviews
April 19, 2015
How come this book has such high notes? I find it pretty boring. There are absolutely no surprises or moments of terror. I haven't connected with a single character nor felt sorry for people suffering. The dialogues are dumb as heck. What was the most interesting part are the technical specifications of power plants (whether they were true or not).

I got this book through a radio contest, so at least I haven't paid for it, but before the contest I had a chance to listen to the interview with Marc Elsberg and it was so interesting I got curious of his book. How come an interview is more interesting than a book itself? Why do one need almost 800 pages to tell such a dull story?

I do NOT recommend it with all my heart or at least I do not recommend reading it in Polish (because I strongly suspect the translation ruined anything good that was in this book).
Profile Image for Dennis.
656 reviews263 followers
September 14, 2018
Das Buch war für mich leider eine Enttäuschung, was vielleicht auch an falschen Erwartungen meinerseits lag.
Ich habe hier mit einem Wissenschaftsthriller gerechnet. Bekommen habe ich ein Wissensbuch.

Was würde passieren wenn im Winter europaweit die Stromnetze für einen längeren Zeitraum zusammenbrechen würden? Die Antwort darauf würde quasi das gesamte Buch spoilern.

Elsberg führt auf 800 Seiten aus vielen verschiedenen Perspektiven die Folgen eines solchen Blackouts aus. Vieles davon war logisch, einiges überraschend.
Das Buch ist gut recherchiert und andererseits auch unglaublich repetitiv. Ich weiß nicht, wie oft ich hier über mangelnde Möglichkeiten der Körperhygiene, Versorgung mit Lebensmitteln und Geld sowie fehlende Möglichkeiten zu heizen und der Kommunikation gelesen habe. Gefühlt waren es hunderte Male.
Die Folgen sind natürlich noch viel weitreichender. Aber auch diesbezüglich gab es mehr Wiederholungen als Überraschungen.

Elsberg ist es leider nicht gelungen interessante Figuren zu schaffen. Das Schicksal der unzähligen Personen in diesem Buch hat mich jeweils kalt gelassen. Deshalb wurde es dann für mich auch relativ schnell langweilig das immergleiche aus einer neuen aber ebenso wenig interessanten Perspektive zu lesen.
Schade. Denn das menschliche Drama ist doch das eigentlich Interessante an einer solchen Geschichte.

Hier plätschert für 800 Seiten alles so dahin, ohne einen wirklichen Spannungsbogen und nur mit einigen wenigen Highlights hier und da. Wobei mir jetzt höchstens 4-5 Szenen einfallen die bei mir für Spannung oder Emotion gesorgt haben.

Die Drahtzieher bleiben zu sehr im Hintergrund und im Grunde gibt es auch nicht allzu viel an Handlung.
Außerdem verläuft die ganze Geschichte auch viel zu geradlinig. Mit Fakten konnte mich der Autor einige Male überraschen. Mit der Handlung aber zu keiner Zeit.

Elsbergs Schreibstil war insgesamt okay und recht flüssig zu lesen. Nur an einer Stelle musste ich mal kurz den Kopf schütteln. Ansonsten würde ich das als gehobenen Durchschnitt einstufen.

Das Buch schenke ich jetzt einer ehemaligen Kollegin und hoffe, dass sie mehr Freude daran hat. Andere Reviews machen mir da etwas Hoffnung.

Update: Sie hat es mit vier Sternen bewertet. Somit konnte ich immerhin ihr noch eine Freude machen. :)
Profile Image for Anette.
Author 24 books5 followers
April 21, 2014
Zwei Sterne für die Informationen und die Idee der Story, aber diese ist wirklich so gähnend langweilig rübergebracht, dass man sich ständig fragt, ob man das Buch zu Ende lesen will.
Zu viel Erklärbär-Einmischungen des Autors, zu wenig wirkliche Aktion der (viel zu vielen) Figuren. Show don't tell. Diese Regel des Schreibens hat der Autor wohl nicht gekannt. Anstatt dem Bundeskanzler in endlos ermüdenden Sitzungen Listen mit den möglichen und tatsächlichen Auswirkungen eines europaweiten Stromausfalls zu erläutern, hätte ich mir gewünscht, die sich zuspitzenden Notsituationen anhand von Nebenfiguren (die der Autor ja zu Genüge eingeführt hat - man fragt sich manchmal nur wofür?) beschrieben zu bekommen. So springt der Funken nicht über und die Figuren bleiben allesamt blass. Der Autor hätte lieber ein Sachbuch schreiben sollen.
Warum dieses Buch so gepusht wurde und auf den Bestsellerlisten landen konnte, ist mir ein Rätsel. Aber da sieht man es wieder: man kann auch nur mit einer tollen Idee und einer mangelhaften Ausführung weit kommen.
Profile Image for Pamela Small.
420 reviews36 followers
May 17, 2017
This book started with a great premise and a "thriller" promise. It failed to deliver on both counts. Although the premise is interesting, the execution was dismally boring. There is NO thrilling action whatsoever. Instead of employing the "show not tell" narrative writing technique, the author repeatedly told the effects of a power grid meltdown over and over ad nauseam. Therefore, there was little propelling the plot forward. The book could easily have been trimmed .The author skipped around to various cities and countries, all reporting the same malfunctioning of generators and power structures. The characters were shallow and non dimensional, except for one man who was not developed The perpetrators were not introduced until after the halfway point. By that time, I didn't care. The tedium was painful and disappointing.
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,405 reviews989 followers
February 10, 2017
Blackout is banging – a cool, surreal techno thriller that imagines societies reaction to a Europe wide blackout – and follows hacker Manzano (as well as other characters) as he races to find those responsible and restore order to the chaos.

It fairly rocks along – and really does keep you thinking – I love the scenario’s the author creates to show us just how reliant we all are on technology and Blackout manages to be both a thriller and a commentary on the vagaries of human nature, as such it is a really terrific immersive read.

You do have to suspend disbelief for parts of it, but you’ll get hooked into the event as it unfolds, from the first tentative “what the all heck is happening” moments right up until the final pages. Marc Elsberg writes with a kind of hypnotic style putting you right in the action and I ended up wanting to go out and stock up on tinned food and bottled water JUST IN CASE mind…

Marc Elsberg asks the question – how long before chaos would descend should we suddenly be thrown into a world we’ve never known – one where the light doesn’t just come on when you hit the switch – and the answer is FAST and he’s probably right.

Thought provoking and utterly riveting – Recommended for fans of socially current thrillers.

Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.5k followers
November 15, 2022
Our Ukrainian friend M is doubtful about this story: she says that when terrorists attack your power grid in real life, people are not eating their cats three days later. On the other hand, the book sold well and was turned into a popular German mini-series. Inspired by its success, here's the teaser for the new techno-thriller we thought up while watching Marc Elsberg's masterpiece:

[Ominous music. Scrolling Matrixy digits. Scary-looking roller blind. TA-DA! Cue the title...


Dissolve to interior shot, average suburban house. AVERAGE DUDE and AVERAGE WIFE are about to pay for something online.]

WIFE: Where's your credit card?

DUDE: I've got it hon.

WIFE: Can we close the blinds first?

[They don't know it, but TEEN PUNK is standing outside holding a smartphone and watching them. DUDE presses a button by the window. Nothing happens.]

DUDE: Maybe we should wait?

WIFE: But the special's only available for another hour!

DUDE: Okay hon.

[He takes out his card. PUNK is frantically doing shit on his smartphone.]

DUDE: I don't get it. Says insufficient funds.

[Dissolve to an upmarket bathroom. A HOT BLONDE in a slinky robe is about to take a shower.]

BLONDE: Alexa, could you close the blinds?

ALEXA: I'm sorry, I'm not sure.

BLONDE: Alexa, please close the blinds.

ALEXA: I'm sorry, I'm not sure.

BLONDE: You're a very naughty girl, Alexa.

[She starts shrugging out of her robe. Dissolve to the apartment across the street. The CREEPY NEIGHBOR is watching. His eyes widen.]

CREEP: Holy shit...

[Back to BLONDE's bathroom. We see her naked body suggestively outlined through the opaque glass of the shower cubicle. Doorbell rings repeatedly.]

VOICE THROUGH DOOR: Special delivery, please sign.

[BLONDE hurries out of the shower, wrapping a tiny towel around herself, and heads for the door.]

BLONDE: Okay, okay!

[BLONDE opens the door a crack. It's CREEP. She's too slow closing it.]


[Dissolve to the Pentagon. A GENERAL with a lot of fruit salad on his chest is starting a Powerpoint presentation.]

GENERAL: I'm sure I don't need to say that this is all for-your-eyes-only. Standard procedure. BEFORE the President arrives.

[He glances meaningfully at the windows and then at JUNIOR OFFICER in the corner who's flicking a switch on and off.]

FLUNKEY: Uh, sir...

[Enter the President, who absolutely isn't DONALD TRUMP, together with VARIOUS AIDES.]

GENERAL: Excuse me sir, we have a small technical problem. We'll be ready to start in a moment.

NO TRUMP: I don't have all day. Start now, you fucking idiot.

[Closeup on FLUNKEY, who is still helplessly flicking his switch. We see beads of sweat on his forehead.]

GENERAL: Yes sir.

[Slides of rockets, bombs, nuclear symbols, engineering diagrams, etc. Dissolve to FOREIGN SPY DUDE who's watching through a telescope. He takes out a phone.]

SPY DUDE: [something in Russian]

[Dissolve to nuclear submarine with red star on bow. The camera moves through the hull so we can see the RUSSIAN SUBMARINE CAPTAIN talking on the radio.]

RUSSIAN COMMANDER: Da. Da tovarishch. Da.

[The submarine's missile port opens slowly. Dissolve back to credits and ominous music.]

VOICEOVER: A society is only as strong as its window blinds. Don't miss... Blindsided.
Profile Image for Celia.
216 reviews25 followers
May 15, 2017
What would happen if a group of terrorists orchestrated a successful strike at the technology that operates all electric and nuclear power sources in Europe, causing its power grid to crash? That is the premise of Blackout, and frankly, this book is almost terrifying to read because you realize that such a scenario (maybe not on such a large scale) might just be plausible. Elsberg very deftly goes from the blackout to the horrifying consequences that can be the result of just a few days without power -- and that is just the beginning of this story full of disasters and twists that result in a book that is hard to put down. Can Piero Manzano, a former hacker who has offered his assistance (but is also seen as a potential suspect because of his background and skills), gain the affected nations' trust and find out what's behind the attacks before all of the affected areas become ground zero?

I recommend this book because it really drives home the point of how reliant we are on computers and electricity, and the disastrous consequences of a long-term outage. Are you prepared?

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Berengaria.
329 reviews45 followers
December 9, 2022
4-4.5 stars

Lots of tech, lots of high speed chases, lots of info. "Blackout" offers fast-paced, fluid writing with all the genre elements we know and... *cough*... tolerate.

The thriller - especially the spy or technological thriller - is normally a very male space. Male writers, male readers, male fields of interest, male fantasies of power and virility, male...you get the picture.

So, we shouldn't be too surprised to find "Blackout" contains:
1) the sexy, young blond chick who really digs our hero and risks her career and future to help him, although they've just met. (He's Italian, she's Swedish...oh the porn possibilities!)

2) the highly competent female side kick who saves our hero's neck several times and then broadcasts tales of his intelligence and virility (metaphorically speaking) to the whole world via CNN...but for whom she has only a sisterly affection, so no hanky-panky. (That's for the blond! Know your place!)

3) a middle-aged, handsome, intelligent hero with special knowledge-skills that make him far more competent and intelligent (and handsome) than Europol and all other computer nerdy boys everywhere. Including the bad guys. Oh yeah, and he's also so athletic that he can survive being chased and shot and knifed and...right. He'll be fine, don't worry. (Did I mention he was Italian? Girls dig Italians. Especially shot and knifed Italians.)

So far, so Dan Brown. 😎🙄

What makes this thriller actually pretty good is not that-- that you can find anywhere -- but the deep-dive into how our modern addiction to energy actually works.

I've read one or two non-fiction books on energy provision in Europe, but couldn't understand most of what I read as it was all too academic/technical/law-based. Elsberg explains in simple, clear language and story illustration how some very complex systems work and what makes our energy resources so fragile. Just for that, he gets major points.

A few storytelling detractors in the novel were, however:
1) repetition of the stakes which made the novel about 150 pages too long.

2) some unbelievable situations. I don't believe after only 8 days without energy or water aid workers would be selling government free food packets for hundreds of euros to line their own pockets, for example. Especially not in socially strong countries. After a month, yes. 8 days, no.

All-in-all, well worth the 800 page read as it is really *very* informative. I feel I really learned something important and am more aware now for the future if (or when!) energy resources should fail.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,312 reviews659 followers
September 21, 2017
“Blackout” is a “techno-thriller” that portrays ways in which terrorists can destroy civilization without firearms or explosives. From the comfort of their home, using their computer, hackers get into the mainframes of various countries’ power grid. Soon, most of Europe is in a blackout and can’t restart their grids.

This has occurred historically. But in this novel, the grids can’t be rebooted. A clever bit of code makes the reboot impossible. We’ve all experienced a bit of time when the electricity is out due to weather or human error. But most of us get our power back on within 24 hours. Author Marc Elsberg takes this further, taking the power away for weeks. Of course, it’s in the wintertime when humans need warmth for survival. Elsberg shows how quickly humanity loses itself when there is no electricity. Survival becomes the number one priority with chaos ensuing for the human basic needs. No more food, hot water, toilets, heat, medications….. Hospitals shut down, gas stations close, all stores close. It’s a disaster scene.

I enjoyed this novel for it’s realistic portrayal of the future of terrorism. All of humanity is dependent upon electricity for survival. If that is taken away, civilization is brought to its knees.

This is a compulsive read that is a great travel read/ beach read. It’s thoughtful and lifelike. It makes the reader ponder: what would one do in this situation.

Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,183 reviews197 followers
August 30, 2022
“Imagine the power grid as a human circulatory system. Electricity is distributed, like blood being carried around the body…”

Panic, disorder, chaos. A perfectly orchestrated attack on modern civilization. The widespread collapse of electrical grids is spreading across Europe, and then the United States. The consequences are devastating.

When Piero Manzano becomes a suspect in the greatest power disaster in history, either he must find the true perpetrators or spend his life being hunted.

With the international flair of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series, Blackout will take you on the breathless journey of one man who must stop a terrible force.
~Tiffany J.
Profile Image for La Talpa.
96 reviews21 followers
April 14, 2017
Was passiert, wenn in ganz Europa der Strom ausfällt??? Mit diesem Szenario beschäftigt sich Marc Elsberg in Black Out und das auf eine super spannende und verständliche Art und Weise.

Aus mehreren Perspektiven verfolgt man die Folgen und auch die Aufklärung des Stromausfalls und ich war wirklich erstaunt welche Katastrophen ein solches Ereignis hinter sich herzieht... oft dachte ich mir: "Ja klar, das geht dann ja auch nicht mehr!" Dieses Buch hat mich wirklich zum nachdenken angeregt. Die Protagonisten waren mir zwar sympathisch, aber konnten mir nicht wirklich nahekommen, was aber auch nicht schlimm war.

Die Recherchearbeit, die Marc Elsberg geleistet hat finde ich wirklich großartig. Trotz vieler technischer Erklärungen war der Erzählfluss und die Storyline aber immer flüssig und ich habe mich nie gelangweilt.

Ich habe Black out als Hörbuch gehört und empfand die Art des Sprechers total angenehm und ich konnte der Story, trotz der vielen Perspektivwechsel, sehr gut folgen. Da es doch ein richtiger Wälzer ist, kann ich das Hörbuch absolut empfehlen.
4,767 reviews53 followers
December 6, 2017
Thanks to NetGalley for access to this book.

The power goes out all over Europe, causing all sorts of hardships. No one can figure out how it's happening, except one hacker and the reporter he finds. The two go on the run, as nobody believes them, and such knowledge is dangerous.

Very good disaster movie type soap opera with a lot of tension, though it seems very European in prose style.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,833 reviews412 followers
March 10, 2017
The premise for this book is great, a Europe-wide black-out in a clever and well-planned act of terrorism. We are desperately dependent on electricity for our lives to function. Without it, there is no water out the tap, it's not possible to fill your car with gas because the pumps won't function and you can't pay with your credit card. The food in the fridge goes bad, there is no way to cook what you have anyway (unless you have access to fire and coal). So absolutely, a book of the calamity that ensues when framework for our modern world disintegrates, fantastic.

The execution does not live up to expectations though. Evidently this author hasn't heard of "show, don't tell". There are endless political meetings. The book is at least twice as long as it needs to be. There is no hint of the perpetrators until almost half of this 800 pages long book has passed. The characters are okay, the main one being the Italian hacker Manzano, who quickly ends up as a suspect.

Calling this a thriller is going a bit a far. It's definitely an end-of-the-world scenario, but it could have been told better. It definitely was an eye-opener on our dependency on electricity. However, the plot really did not need 800 pages. Half would have been more than enough.
Profile Image for Učitaj se!.
659 reviews104 followers
May 20, 2019
Osvrnite se oko sebe i promotrite koliko je stvari u vašoj neposrednoj okolini ovisno o električnoj struji. A sad razmišljajte globalno. Da nestane struje na čitavom kontinentu, i da taj nestanak potraje, makar i samo nekoliko dana, što bi se dogodilo?

Bez struje nema Interneta, nema računala, nema mobilnih mreža. Nema grijanja, ne rade hladnjaci, pećnice, zamrzivači, što znači da nam se dobar dio hrane počinje kvariti. Ne rade benzinske crpke, ergo, nema goriva, pa nema ni prijevoza. Nema ni javnog prijevoza: tramvaja, podzemne željeznice, vlakova. Ne rade pumpe za vodu, pa nema ni tekuće vode, kanalizacije, vode za piće. Ne rade strojevi u bolnicama, ne rade bankomati, niti kase u dućanima, nema naplate karticama. Što mislite, koliko bi vam dugo potrajala gotovina koju trenutno imate u novčaniku?

Crni scenarij nestanka struje opisuje u ovom romanu Marc Elsberg. Pišući ga, Elsberg je obavio iscrpno istraživanje, razgovarao s gomilom stručnjaka o gomili hipotetičkih situacija, a rezultat je nevjerojatno stvaran roman spekulativne fikcije koji nas upoznaje s činjenicom koliko smo zapravo ovisni o električnoj struji i upozorava nas na mogućnost organiziranog napada s ciljem da nam istu oduzme. Koliko je ovaj roman stvaran govori i činjenica da je Elsberg zamoljen sudjelovati i predstaviti svoje pronalaske na raznim simpozijima vezanim uz sigurnost informacijskih sustava. Njegov cilj bio je navesti nas da se zapitamo što bi se dogodilo da svijet ostane bez struje, a, vjerujte, nakon što pročitate ovaj roman, to ćete si pitanje doista i postaviti - i to ne jednom.

Priča počinje iznenadnim nestankom struje tijekom obične vožnje automobilom. Odjednom, semafori prestanu raditi, što dovede do automobilske nesreće. Ovdje susrećemo i Piera Manzana, centralnog lika kojeg ćemo slijediti kroz ostatak romana.

Manzano je stručnjak za informacijske tehnologije, bivši hakerski aktivist koji, nakon nestanka struje, bude jedan od prvih koji uoči tragove koji vode do onoga što je dovelo do nestanka. Zbog njegove hakerske prošlosti, vlasti mu nisu baš sklone odmah povjerovati, stoga je Manzano čas tretiran kao junak, čas kao sumnjivac. No Manzano se uskoro pokaže i kao jedina osoba koja bi mogla zaista otkriti tko stoji iza svega - ali i kako spriječiti daljnje napade i vratiti struju.

Od prve stranice, ovaj je roman napeta i brza utrka s vremenom, tijekom koje pratimo događaje u raznim dijelovima Europe, upoznajući golem splet likova koji se pokušavaju nositi sa sve većim opasnostima uzrokovanima nestankom struje. Osim osnovnih stvari, poput opskrbe hranom i vodom, lijekovima, komunalnih usluga, itd., diljem Europe raspiruju se sve žešći nemiri i sukobi. Vlade su na rubu snaga, stanovništvo na rubu pucanja. Struje nema tek nekoliko dana, a svijet je pao u totalni kaos.

Ako je Elsbergov cilj bio osvijestiti ljude koliko ovisimo o struji i električnoj energiji i kakve sve opasnosti njen nestanak na duže vrijeme sa sobom nosi, taj je cilj itekako ispunjen. Struja je jedna od onih stvari koje uzimaš zdravo za gotovo. Uvijek je tu, uvijek ju koristimo. A koristimo je za - doslovno - sve. Možda najslikovitiji opis u kakav problem upadnemo bez struje u ovom romanu je onaj u kojem Elsberg opisuje kako bez struje nije moguće plaćati karticama, već samo gotovinom. A budući da nema struje i ne rade bankomati, gotovinu možeš podići jedino u banci. A budući da ne rade benzinske crpke, zbog čega nema goriva, banka ne može doći do novih zaliha gotovine i dopremiti ih u svoje poslovnice. Pa si zaglavljen u situaciji da, iako imaš novca na računu, do njega nikako ne možeš doći. A cijena doslovno svega, u anarhiji i kaosu, samo raste.

Čak i ako niste ljubitelj trilera, ovaj adrenalinom nabijeni i nevjerojatno brz roman mogao bi vam privući pažnju. Ako ni zbog čeg drugog, onda zbog svoje vrlo, vrlo stvarne i aktualne teme. Ovdje nema mučnih ubojstava kakva smo navikli inače viđati u romanima ovog žanra, ali problematika nestanka na struje i svi problemi koje to sa sobom nosi i više su no dovoljni i i više no realistično prikazani da vam, bar na tren, zalede krv u žilama.

Garantiram vam da ćete se, idući put kad nestane struje i kada počnete tražiti pokoju svijeću da vam rasvijetli sobu dok se struja ne vrati, sjetiti ovog romana i bar malo štrecnuti. I nadati se da se scenarij opisan u romanu nije počeo ostvarivati. ;)
Profile Image for Daniel.
595 reviews42 followers
May 3, 2012
Wie viele andere auch war ich zunächst von diesem Buch nicht so fasziniert, wie man meinen sollte. Ich bin ein großer Fan von 'Endzeit-Szenarien', und 'Black Out' war nicht so recht in dieses Genre zuzurechnen, hatte allerdings schon einige Parallelen vorzuweisen.

Nach ein paar gelesenen Seiten war ich allerdings voll im Geschehen und muss nachträglich sagen, dass es sich wirklich gelohnt hat.

Anders als diverse Social-Media-Pessimisten, die ihre schlechte Laune und wahnwitzigen Befürchtungen über den Untergang der Menschheit in ein Buch packen und damit Menschen des 21. Jahrhunderts nerven, hat Marc Elsberg in diesem Buch ein Szenario geschaffen, das nicht nur realistisch sondern gruselig ohne Ende ist.

Man stelle sich vor: Von einem Moment auf den anderen fällt in Europa der Strom aus. Niemand schafft es, die Leitungen wieder mit dem Nährstoff der heutigen Zivilisation vollzupumpen. Die Versorgung fällt aus, die Menschen geraten in Panik und erst in diesem Moment wird allen klar, dass es vielleicht doch keine so gute Idee war jedes einzelne Teilgebiet der Stromversorung (aus Geldgier) zu privatisieren.

Inmitten dieses Tumults gelingt es einem italienischen Ex-Aktivisten und passionierten Hacker hinter das Geheimnis der Angreifer zu kommen. Dummer Weise reagieren diese auch auf ihn - und schon steht ER auf der Liste der Verdächtigen.

Das Buch ist nicht so rasant wie es sein könnte, doch es reicht allemal und hat alles, was man für einen modernen europäischen Thriller braucht: Sämtliche Staaten der Union eingebunden und die Querverbindungen zwischen ihnen aufgezeigt. Die Unzulänglichkeiten der aktuellen Zustände, ja vor Allem die Eigenbrödlerei des Turbo-Kapitalismus und der nationalistischen Einzelperspektiven werden wunderschön skizziert und subtil zerpflückt.

Dieses Buch ist allen zu empfehlen, die sich einmal darüber Gedanken machen wollen, was eigentlich das Problem am Kapitalismus ist - und welche Folgen die ständige Gewinnsucht haben kann. Es ist, wiewohl nicht mein bevorzugtes Genre, ein ausgezeichnetes Buch.
Profile Image for Meep.
2,040 reviews199 followers
August 11, 2018
So tedious. All dry meetings face-less people recounting disaster predictions but no human element to make the threat real. It's all reports from different locations with no glimpse of people on the actual street, no emotion. There's not enough personality to make any of the characters stand out or for their situation to matter. They're simply not interesting or developed enough to be worth keeping track of.

How would a nation react to a loss of power? How quickly would chaos ensue? Well we don't really know because the book doesn't get out of the boardroom or fancy hotel. People's biggest priority has been to reach a working shower. Getting to 38% was a slog.

Hero hacker with a scar will undoubtedly save the day in the nick of time and get the girl, one or several of them. Plucky reporter girl will break the news to beat all other news. The bad guys will be defeated, whoever they are, no sign of them yet another thing that stops the threat see real. But I just don't care.

The concept had potential but the delivery is too dry and souless.
Profile Image for Literarischunterwegs.
271 reviews33 followers
October 12, 2021
Leider habe ich auch dieses Buch nach 150 Seiten abgebrochen. Es war mir zu technisch, zu uninteressant in den Beschreibungen des Stromnetzes. Auch die vielen Sprünge in die verschiedenen Örtlichkeiten und Leben der Personen. Es ist fast jeder Lebensbereich vertreten. Das ist schon geschickt und gut angelegt.
Auf den ersten Seiten wurde schnell klar, was es bedeuten würde, wenn global der Strom ausfallen würde und welches Folgen dies für alle hätte. Vielleicht mag ich mir auch momentan nach der globalen Pandemie "Corona" nicht auch noch so etwas vorstellen.

Dennoch ist das Buch sicherlich toll und spannend für jeden, der sich damit beschäftigen möchte. Für mich passte es zurzeit nicht.
Profile Image for Kasia (kasikowykurz).
1,169 reviews29 followers
May 18, 2022
Naprawdę niepokojąca książka, gdy zaczniesz się zastanawiać, jak ty być zareagował w takiej sytuacji i uświadomisz sobie, że brak prądu nie oznaczy tylko, że nie obejrzysz telewizji, ani nie odpiszesz na wiadomość w telefonie.

Zaskakujące w tej książce jest to, że pomimo praktycznie braku napięcia nie jest nudna. Wywołuje niepokój, milion myśli i przez cały czas z tyłu głowy kołatają się pytania. Myślę, że spokojnie zostanie ze mną na dłużej i zdecydowanie nie chciałabym takiej przyszłości.
Profile Image for Gernot1610.
209 reviews2 followers
October 19, 2019
Den einen Stern hat es nicht verdient, aber wenn ich keinen vergebe sieht's womöglich so aus, als hätte ich vergessen zu bewerten.
Profile Image for Chimamanda.
92 reviews
February 28, 2021
Der Autor hat sich offensichtlich viel Mühe bei der Recherche zu Stromnetzen und IT gegeben. Leider hört sein Verständnis bei so komplexen Themen wie Frauen auf. Von so Kleinigkeiten, wie dass sie sich vorm Anziehen schminken (im Winter... es werden eine Menge Pullis getragen, ist ja Stromausfall) zu der Tatsache, dass alle bei allen erwähnten Frauen zuerst ihr Aussehen beschrieben wird (natürlich alle jung und schön) und dass prinzipiell Männer Entscheidungen fällen, ausführen und große Dinge planen.

Dann Bollard. Ich glaube dieser Charakter soll ein Sympathieträger sein. Und während er seine beruflichen Aufgaben wohl der Situation entsprechend souverän meistert, ist er privat die Katastrophe. Er is einfach ein miserabler Ehemann und Vater. Obwohl seine beruflichen Aufgaben zum Großteil aus Kommunikation und Koordination bestehen, schafft er es nicht seiner Frau irgendetwas über die Situation zu verraten. Sie muss ja schließlich nur das tun was er sagt und dann seine Entscheidungen ausbaden während er ihr Informationen über den Ernst der Lage vorenthällt oder sie anlügt. Und während sie sich in dieser Notlage um ihre gemeinsamen Kinder, sowie um Nahrung kümmern muss, sitzt er in seinem geheizten Büro und scheint sich bis auf ein Mal auch nicht um das emotionale Wohl seiner Familie zu kümmern.
Manzano verliebt sich hingegen innerhalb eines Tages und natürlich bekommt der Held am Ende auch seine Frau - schließlich hat er ja seine Aufgabe erledigt - ohne, dass die beiden im Laufe der Handlung groß Kontakt gehabt hätten. Aber das kennen wir ja von Superhelden.

Dann werden noch ein paar Städte so beschrieben, wie sie nicht wirklich aussehen, auch nicht 2012 als das Buch rauskam.
Unser Held erholt sich durch Schlaf-, Nahrungs- und Wassermangel von einer leichten postoperativen Infektion. Wäre ja auch schade wenn er dahinraffen würde bevor er, der einzige Mensch schlau genug um den Übeltätern auf die Schliche zu kommen, die Welt gerettet hätte.
Wie Freundschaften z.B. von Frauen (die sich immer noch treffen und gemeinsam in Urlaub fahren nachdem sie mittlerweile in unterschiedlichen Städten wohnen) funktionieren scheint unserem Herrn Autor auch ein Rätsel zu sein.

Und der Autor weiß scheinbar nicht, dass bei einer Geburt nicht nur ein reinliches Baby aus dem Körper der Mutter rausgeprest wird. Irgendwie scheint er vollkommen vergessen zu haben zu recherchieren, dass das eine blutige, schleimige, schwitzige und oft auch mit Urin- und/oder Kot verbundene Angelegenheit ist.
Nunja, nochmal würde ich das nicht lesen. Und von dem Autor brauche ich auch erstmal nichts mehr.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sadie.
750 reviews163 followers
June 10, 2012
Sehr spannend, sehr flott geschrieben und sensationell gut recherchiert, keine Frage. Und das apokalyptische/dystopische Thema - wie reagiert die Menschheit, wenn plötzlich kein Strom mehr da ist? - ist ja sowieso total meins. Man fliegt nur so durch die Seiten. Ganz, ganz toll sind auch die vielen aktuellen Verbindungen und Querverweise, z.B. auf die Katastrophe von Fukushima. Das gibt dem ganzen noch einmal einen Extra Kick Realismus. Auf sehr beängstigende Weise.

Es gibt hier eigentlich nicht viel auszusetzen, das Buch ist handwerklich 1A gelungen. Vor allem, wie erwähnt, die umfangreiche Recherche der technischen Details beeindruckt. Das hat schon Eschbach-Ausmaße. Mir ganz persönlich war es allerdings ein Hauch zu viel Krimi, auf Kosten des eigentlichen Dramas - zwar war die Suche nach dem Täter/den Tätern sehr spannend und fesselnd, allerdings hätte ich gerne noch mehr über die Auswirkungen des Stromausfalls auf die Gesellschaft gelesen, also das Drama ruhig noch etwas verstärkt und mehr in den Vordergrund gestellt. War mir etwas zu wenig Panik und Durchgedrehe ;) Das hat Rattentanz nach meinem Geschmack besser hingekriegt - und mich weitaus mehr auf emotionaler Ebene berührt und schockiert. Aber wie gesagt, das ist ein rein subjektiver Vergleich und tut dem positiven Gesamteindruck keinen großen Abbruch.
Profile Image for Kathi Defranc.
1,183 reviews461 followers
May 31, 2017
Wow...What a story of international disaster..the electricity goes out in Europe- cars crash, heat fails, water or gas cannot be pumped, accidents add up as there are no traffic lights..And then it starts the same way in the USA, in England, and on and on. You really do not think of all that can happen if a power grid fails, and with everything on a computer did you think of what 'hackers' can do?! This story is right out of something that could definitely happen today. The author does a wonderful job, he obviously did his research as noted in all the companies we are introduced to, in different countries with differing standards. I took awhile reading this, as I wanted to understand all I read, but I never lost any interest as the excitement and suspense increased! A very good book that can scare you to tears, if you pay attention and think of what could happen today!! My thanks to Netgalley, the author Marc Elsberg , and publisher Sourcebooks Landmark for a copy of this book from which I could give my unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Joanna Park.
492 reviews60 followers
February 10, 2017
When the power suddenly goes out, everyone thinks it is a temporary power cut and that electricity will soon be restored. As the hours and days go on however it soon becomes clear that something much more sinister is going on. Working with those in charge of restoring the power Manzano, a former hacker, must try to unravel the mystery and try to find out who is responsible. Due to his background suspicion soon turns to him as the power continues to stays off and panic begins to set in. On the streets there is unrest as people go hungry, cold and start to die. On the run and determined to clear his name, Manzano must find out what happened and catch the terrorists involved before it is too late.

I found the subject matter of this novel utterly fascinating. I had no idea that so many every day things used electricity and how reliant on it we are. This book has caused a lot of great conversations with my friends and family particularly my husband who as a hardware engineer knew a little about it. What most struck me was how realistic it was. This could actually happen which is a terrifying thought and helps to add an air of foreboding to be novel. I found myself thinking what would I do and would I act like that?

There is a lot of technical terminology mentioned in the book but it is done in a way that ensures the reader understands it. When it gets a bit complicated it is normally being explained to a character which doesn't have much knowledge of computers which means it is easy to follow.

I really liked the main characters Manzano & Shannon. I felt that they went on a huge journey together which changed them for the better. At first they seemed to just be looking out for their own interests but they soon realise that they need to work together and form a partnership which was great to read about. They are contrasted perfectly with some of the more corporate characters who were hard to warm to as they seem more concerned with their own well being and the rules then others.

As a reader you will go through a range of emotions whilst reading this book. There are huge highs when things go well and some very poignant and heartbreaking moments at the worst points of the blackout. Some of these scenes will stay with me for a long time.

There are a couple of reason why this isn't quite 5 stars for me. The first is that you are introduced to a lot of characters quite quickly which makes it difficult to keep track of all of them and what part of the story they are from. It could maybe have done with a character list so you could quickly remind yourself. The second is that I felt a little let down by the ending. It was a good way to finish and very realistic but the pace slowed down a lot towards the end which made it harder to finish. Neither of these impacted hugely on my overall enjoyment of this book though and I will be recommending it to everyone as I found it very interesting. I think it would be a great bookclub book as there is lots to discuss. It should perhaps be mandatory reading for those in power to try and stop it happening in real life!

Huge thanks to Thomas Hill and Transworld publishers for giving me an ARC of this book. If you like fast paced thrillers that make you think try this book!
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,455 reviews466 followers
January 20, 2018
Blackout is one of those books I was rather excited to read, only to be disappointed by the story I was given. Marc Elsberg had a wonderful idea, one that will make people think about the world today, but it did not hit the spot I had been hoping it would. In other words, the potential was there but it failed to deliver.

The story itself was interesting, I cannot deny my interest in the story. I was left wanting to find out more, wanting to see how everything came together, but there was a significant feeling of disinterest towards many things. The story had me, but the other elements let me down.

Take the characters – I didn’t care for any of them. There were quite a few characters within the book I could have come to love, had there been more to them. As it was, characters waded through the story and I never once came to care about any of them. I wanted someone to do something interesting, I wanted something to come out about one of the characters that would have made me obsessed with their characterisation. It’s not that the characters were flat – I simply found myself uncaring, forgetting the names as soon as the book was over.

Another element I found to be lacking – the part to have saddened me the most – is the action scenes. I do not need action throughout, but thrillers need a few hard-hitting scenes. The heart should be pumping, you should be on the edge of your seat, and the pages should be turning. It’s a must for thrillers in my mind. This book, however, never once had my heart pumping. There were plenty of occasions where the scenes could have reached the necessary level, but they never did. Hence, my disappointment.

Despite this, there was some pretty solid research throughout the book. The details given about certain things that occur, and how it links to parts of the real world, were wonderful. It simply wasn’t enough to make me fall in love with the book.

Overall, I’d been hoping for more.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,292 reviews263 followers
April 16, 2018
Blackout was a fast-paced read with an interesting premise but ultimately didn't work for me.

When the power goes out one night, no one thinks anything of it and they simply wait for it to come back. However it soon becomes clear that something is wrong. The power grid across Europe never comes back online and any attempts to restore it, fail. When former hacker Piero Manzano begins investigating the cause of the outages, he turns his findings over to the authorities. Unfortunately they don't believe him and soon begin to look at him as the prime suspect. Now on the run with CNN reporter Lauren Shannon, the two are on a desperate search for the real culprits before it's too late.

Throughout the book we follow several different story lines of the different agencies investigating what happened as well as the events at different power companies attempting to restore power. The story moved through the different events fairly quickly with chapters of varying lengths. The plot around what happened wasn't necessarily hard to follow but the constant shift to different events did make things a bit confusing.

There are roughly half a dozen characters with a few others popping up occasionally. The main focus of the story is with Piero, or the Italian as he is frequently called, as well as with Lauren a reporter covering the blackout. I had the same problem with the large cast of characters as I did with the multiple plot lines and found it confusing to try and keep track of everyone and what role they played. We get short snippets from those behind the blackouts but I never felt their sections really added anything to the story.

Overall, the multiple story lines and large cast of characters caused too much confusion and the book didn't work for me.

**I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**
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