I haven't read a Chris Ryan novel in a while, so when I was sorting my current reading list, I put one straight to the top of the pile.
I've always had a fascination with the SAS, and Chris Ryan certainly hits the spot when it comes to gritty and realistically written stories about the events of the characters he creates; all of whom normally share his former occupation as a soldier in the British Special Air Service.
Undoubtedly, his experience has taught him a lot, and has naturally gifted him with the ability to write SAS fiction through basing his characters and their interactions on his own accounts of being a solider.
So: here's why you should read this number one bestseller, Blackout!
Sorry about the image with the tatty looking copy by the way. If memory serves me right, I actually picked it up from a pub I was doing an open mic night gig at a few years back. They sell second-hand books and donate the money to a local children's hospice, so I always tried to make sure I parted ways with a little spare cash for a great cause.
So, Blackout: in a single line - intelligently written with twists and turns you won't see coming.
I love twists in books, and I haven't written a single manuscript myself that doesn't revolve around at least one big secret the reader must discover. Of course, I'll not be spoiling anything for you, so you will have to trust me when I vouch for them. Honestly, I didn't see them all coming, and I'm usually way too fast for most twists in stories.
So well done Chris - you got me with this one!
The book is without a doubt a page-turner, and Chris utilising his experience as a former solider absolutely makes you believe in the characters and the events. The way the protagonist sees, and the way he acts, are all born (presumably) from Chris's own knowledge of how an SAS soldier operates. It's fair to say that the protagonists in some of his works can be rather similar, but the believability in the characters and their actions simply cannot be questioned.
I mean, how the hell do you question an expert?
But what impressed me the most was the intelligent plotline that generously superseded the fact that his books can often get away with being 'easy reads' in my view because the characters are often so believable. Blackout was a good combination of that inherent reality where Chris can make the reader thoroughly believe in what's happening, but with a great story to go along with it. He knows his stuff which helps bring a story to life, but the events in this one were better than others I've read.
The theme is clean throughout. The character suffers a mental blackout around the same time cities across the world are suffering literal power failures, keeping the themes of the character discovering both his own identity and involvement in the situation he finds himself in - as well as discovering the source of the power outages - consistent. I liked the simple parallel in the title and the two plotlines a lot.
It's the little things in books that can sometimes go a long way.
As for the major twist I didn't see coming - it's a heart wrenching one. Sometimes things happen in stories that break you a bit emotionally, and this one certainly did; but I'm glad he did it because it was bold and brass, and made the events of the story memorable, and that's what you want in a good book - a memorable plot that is easy to pass along to other readers.
Ultimately, if you like the SAS and the idea of action, it ticks the boxes; if you like the idea intelligent interconnecting themes that remain consistent throughout, it ticks the boxes; and finally, if you like a good twist, then it certainly ticks the boxes.
It's as simple as that. It helped keep me company during an 11 hour flight to LA for work! So far, I'd say it's the best Chris Ryan book I've read to date; and I've ploughed through a fair few in my time.
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