Note: Minor spoilers in the review.
Blackout uses the same broad theme as Stephen King’s novella “The Mist,” replacing the titular fog with an all-encompassing darkness than envelops a small town, all the better to unleash alien horrors on its citizenry. While the story moves swiftly, it never quite clicked for me. It’s a fast and easy read but I felt indifferent to the fates of the various characters.
The writing is for the most part solid, but unremarkable. Passages like the following, where the main character state the obvious, are not uncommon:
And being a science teacher, I knew that if the sun did not rise day after day after day, there would be no photosynthesis. The plants and trees would no longer process carbon dioxide and release breathable oxygen.
One of my pet peeves–characters doing dumb things to advance the plot–is also in play here, though to his credit, Curran at least has the main character own up to his behavior:
I don’t honestly think it was the cable’s doing, but some weird self-hypnotic thing that made me reach out and touch it. There’s no good explanation for any of it. None at all. The self-destructive urge we all feel from time to time just became so strong, and I was so weak, that I just went with it. I touched the cable.
(The cables are bad, as you may have guessed.)
If you feel the need for a bleak, hopeless tale–that’s not a spoiler, as the first line of the story admits as much–you could do worse than Blackout, but I found it curiously joyless.