Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tea Time: Blackout

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Blackout (Annum Guard #2), Meredith McCardle

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Obermann (code name: Iris) has more on her mind than usual. As a member of a covert government organization called the Annum Guard, which travels through time to keep history on track, Iris has been getting some particularly stressful assignments. Plus, Jane Bonner, the Guard's iron-fisted new leader, seems determined to make life as hard as possible. Thankfully, Iris has Abe (code name: Blue), her boyfriend and fellow Guardian, who listens to her vent,and helps her cope with her mentally ill mother's increasingly erratic behavior.

When Guardians start to disappear on their assignments, Iris makes a terrifying discovery: a blackout squad is targeting anyone who gets in the way of a corrupt force that's selling out both the Annum Guard's missions and Guardian lives. Together, Iris and Blue must go undercover to untangle the Guard's elaborate web of secrets and lies. But when Iris discovers that the terrible truth may involve her own father, a former Guardian undone by his own greed, she must decide how much she's willing to risk to rescue her friends, and how dangerous the consequences will be for all of humanity.

A thrilling time-traveling adventure that spans from Abraham Lincoln's assassination to the Cuban Missile Crisis and back to the present day, this pulse-pounding sequel to The Eighth Guardian reveals that playing with time can turn into a deadly game.(source:goodreads)

Narration-BLACKOUT is told from the first person POV of Iris/Amanda, and just like in the first book there's a return to a lovely, snarky, sometimes serious and sometimes sassy voice of a girl I've kind of fallen in love with for her badassery.

And, personally, I felt that in this sequel she's grown a lot from who she was in the first; instead of focusing so much on her own problems, there's also a focus on wanting to fix everyone else's and helping their lives remain somewhat stable. Not quite sure if that's the intent, but there you have it. And I think it takes quite a bit to make that shine through the voice.

Plot-What can I say about this series that I haven't already said? The time-traveling history-altering government agency known as the Annum Guard is back, and this time the members are trying to unravel the conspiracy uncovered by Iris/Amanda in the previous book. The previous leaders are being questioned as to their involvement, and meanwhile the younger members are trying to investigate each history alteration that was bought and paid for by someone in the present.

And? Those members of the Annum Guard are going missing. Like, disappearing in the middle of the past despite a new kind of tracker-implemented by their higher ups-that can't be removed (*coughs* like Iris did) being implanted into them.

Really, everything that could go wrong in this book, did. Which means it was high-intensity straight from the beginning, covering everything from the missions that Iris/Amanda has to take back in time; her relationship with boyfriend, "New" Blue; relationship with her mother; relationship with the rest of the Guard; and attempting to figure out why the heck everyone she knows and loves is suddenly going missing.

Just like in the first book, it kind of becomes up to Iris/Amanda to figure out what's really going on behind the walls of the Annum Guard, all while dodging the time-traveling assassins who've been sent to capture her. And if she just so happens to accidentally alter history in a really big way that completely and totally changes everyth-

But, of course, I'm not going to tell you. Not much, anyway. Only that the ending will blow your mind and make you cry and beg for the next book in the series.

Basically, it's fast-paced, emotional, and there's oh so much action. I loved the focus on relationships (now that Iris/Amanda's kind of officially inducted and a part of the team) and how deep the conspiracy goes: affecting many well-known historical events that make you question (even in our world where supposedly time-travel doesn't exist) how much of any story is the truth and what's fabricated. How do you know who to trust? Who do you keep secrets from and why? How far will your friends go to lend you help when you need it, and what are the consequences when things go wrong?

And have I mentioned that ending? *dies*

Characters-Our favorite team of secret government time-travelers are back, guys! Remember when I reviewed THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN and said that I wished we could spend time with more of the characters? This book made my dream come true. Not only do we get more Yellow and Violet, but also Red and, particularly, the "New" Blue, who's Iris/Amanda's boyfriend from their spy school. In addition: new characters, like Jane Bonner who might not really be Jane Bonner and who may or may not be involved in a brand-new conspiracy against the Annum Guard, and three mysterious new interns who are supposed to be "helping" sort through paperwork.

Once again, I was overjoyed with the way McCardle handled such a somewhat large cast. Not only did she expand upon previous characters, but every new character was as much a mystery as Zeta and Alpha were in the first book. They always felt very well thought out, and very cemented into their world; so much so that their mysteries pushed the novel along just as much as the plot. The idea of the whole Guard being more like a family than simply co-workers was very well played upon, which helped bring out a darker side to Amanda/Iris that I really enjoyed watching play out.

GUYS. *pokes* Seriously, this series has kind of stolen my heart. I really encourage ya'll to go buy yourselves copies and just love these books to death. 

Final Answer: 4.33 / 5 stars

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@Rae_Slater reviews BLACKOUT @MeredithMcP and calls it fast-pace and emotional, a series worth reading (Click to Tweet)

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