13 August 2012

Review: Digital Winter by Mark Hitchcock and Alton Gansky

One January day in the very near future, the power goes out in San Diego. Then in Washington DC, and everywhere in between. At first, everyone thinks the blackouts are localised accidents, but it soon becomes apparent that the country is the victim of a cyberterrorism attack. The US military then realises the problem is global, so who is behind the attacks? And how will people in this digital age survive without electricity?

The first half of Digital Winter, detailing the initial power cuts from the viewpoints of different characters, was excellent. It was apocalyptic fiction of the best kind, both entertaining and thought-provoking (what would I do without electricity, even temporarily?). It was everything that Terri Blackstock’s Last Light wasn’t – scientifically plausible (at least to me), and featuring strong, intelligent and likeable characters.

But then Digital Winter moved from the immediate problem into the aftermath, eight days, eight weeks and (very briefly) eight months later. I found these later sections less compelling. They were more tribulation fiction, like the start of the Left Behind series, but with a flavour of Titanic: we know how the story is supposed to go, and that takes something away from it. I wanted that element of surprise, and although it was there in the detail, the big picture is a bit obvious.

Now, I am fully aware of how ironic this sounds coming from me. I read a lot of romance, and the romance genre is defined by the need for a HEA (Happy Ever After) ending. In a romance novel, you can pretty much tell from the first chapter how it is going to end, and that doesn’t bother me because that is what I expect. But the beginning of Digital Winter> was one thing while the end was another. And I liked the beginning more.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free book for review.

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