A review by loveisnotatriangle
Blackout by Meredith McCardle


3.5 stars. The sequel to The Eighth Guardian is fast paced and kept me quickly turning pages from start to finish. I wanted to figure out what was going on with the government and the Annum Guard, and find out the identity of XP as much as Iris did. While the first book focused more on real historical events, adding in the internal Guard intrigue as the book progressed, this book was mostly focused on the later with historical events as backdrops. It was still fun to travel to different places and times, though. I loved seeing how social customs, women's roles and security has changed so much. Iris continues to be stubborn and not good at listening to others, or following orders, and a few times I disagreed (strongly) with her choices. I'm glad there are people who call her out on that, even if she rarely listens. This series isn't as focused on character growth as it is action and deception, though I hope she'll find more growth by the end of the series. Despite that, Iris and I mostly got along though out this book. I would never do as well in the high pressure situations she encounters, and she barely has time to think about her personal life before she's rushing off into another high stress situation.

My biggest problem with this story was the romance, which I'm going to talk about, because it's always an important part of a book for me. If romance doesn't skew as highly for you, then this might not weight as negatively as it did for me. Especially, if you are as invested in the other aspects of this story. Iris and Abe were dating when the first book began, which made sense for the way the story was set up. However, for most of both books, she and Abe have either been separated or not communicating well. That coupled with never seeing their initial connection when their relationship began, has eroded my enjoyment or understanding of their relationship. In this book, Iris and Abe's relationship stalls into an awkward holding patter where they keep coming to conflict then backing up and glossing over issues between them. I would think they were headed towards a breakup, but then in the next chapter Iris would strengthen her resolve to be with Abe and declare everything was okay. But I needed to see them working together and talking about their issues to believe in their relationship. Thankfully, it is not central to the plot, but Iris is thinking about it frequently. Honestly, they just didn't seem to be a healthy couple anymore. I'd almost like to see them back up and rebuild if they are going to stay together. I admire their loyalty to each other and for their sakes, I want them to work it out, but they have work to do!

This book ends on a cliffhanger and I liked the direction it story takes a lot. It definitely has me excited to read the third book. At the end, we finally see consequences for different people's actions and the way they've been playing with time. Thoughts I've had since the beginning, especially as any past change can have huge future consequences. I think the third book will be particularly interesting to explore this. However
SpoilerIris's resolve at the end is based a lot on her connection and commitment to Abe, which had pretty much faded by the end of the book for me. I agree she can't keep things the way they are, but I'm not sure I'm buying that she'd do everything just for him. Honestly, after the last book, what I really needed to see in this book was a reconstruction of their relationship.

Also, this is a small thing, but though this series highlights some big events in past US history, there has been no mention of recent ones, such as 9/11. I'm surprised no one has mentioned what would happen if something like that was altered, or even that they tried to do that in the past. I mean, at least one of those flights actually left from Boston! Even if it was just a conversation, I think more complexity and relevance could be added to this story by asking some questions about that. Still, I like that Iris has begun to think through whether time travel and altering history are too dangerous as a whole to even mess with.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - no immediate danger, but some huge things to come!