Blackout – Marc Elsberg

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.

The book is a dystopian thriller starting from a cyber attack on the EU electricity grid. The protagonist, an Italian IT specialist, tries to solve the crisis by finding how the system was affected and going to authorities. The pace of the book is fast, by quickly changing the locations.

The premise of the book is jaw-dropping: a EU-wide electricity blackout. The Austrian author carefully researched the subject and the potential outcomes of such a crisis. The book is full of  excellent logical consequences of such an event.

What if the electricity grid collapses?

However, the quality of the writing itself is not great. The translation from German is not perfect and there is too much said and too little shown. There are also some plot holes, the solution focusing too much on individual characters, while in reality there is more of a team work.

I really enjoyed the book, despite its drawbacks. A great analysis showing the vulnerabilities of a vital system, our electricity.

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