Recent Reading: Blackout by Myra Grant

Okay, so. Finally read BLACKOUT, which as you know is up for the Hugo this year.

Is it good? Yep. As you’d expect if you’ve read the first two books in the trilogy, it’s quite an adventure. Not the high-octane thrill-ride of the first two books, imo, but exciting.

Does Grant pull off the — and here comes a spoiler, if you haven’t read the second book, so look away —

Does Grant pull off the magic clone? For me, not really. She waves her hands and declares that magic science makes it possible to grow a magic clone to adulthood near-instantly and magically install into its brain the memories of the original, and I’m sure a nod to magic science is fine for a lot of readers, but for me it is a tooth-grinding suspension-of-disbelief disaster.

Which I strongly suspected it would be. So I was prepared. So I enjoyed the new Georgia anyway. I liked her sections of the narrative the best, in fact, even if I didn’t believe in her. Can she get out of the evil CDC’s hands before they kill her? Can she persuade her team she’s the real thing, against all their genuine memories of her being dead? Very tense moments in there.

So getting Georgia back and reuniting her and Shaun (in a rather hard-to-believe coincidence of intersecting plotlines, but whatever) — well, I like happy endings, so okay.

BLACKOUT had plenty of other good stuff in it, too: all those tense family dynamics and all those interesting questions about identity and what it takes to make a clone a real person. And about what it takes to be a sane person, and the strange shapes insanity can take. Plus the random betrayals from unexpected directions, and trustworthy allies found in equally unexpected places.

And the writing is still excellent — though switching first-person narratives back and forth between Georgia and Shaun felt awkward to me; once they got together, I kept losing track of who was speaking. Then I’d have to stop and think and figure it out, which was annoying. That wasn’t an issue in the first two books, of course, and it’s probably one reason that, to me, the plotting didn’t seem nearly as tight in this book as it did in the earlier books.

Anyway — to sum up, I totally agree with the perceptive commenter (Maureen E) who noted in a previous post that FEED would have been an utterly brilliant standalone novel and it’s a pity Grant didn’t leave it to stand alone. Yes. Even though I genuinely enjoyed the other two, I hereby declare that the first book is actually lessened by the existence of the other two.

How about the rest of you? If you’ve read the book: agree or disagree?

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