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Blackout (Cal Leandros, Book 6) by Rob Thurman
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451463869
Date: 01 March 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

When a young man wakes on a beach, surrounded by monstrous spiders he's (apparently) just killed, you might think amnesia is the least of his problems. You'd be wrong.

So begins Blackout, the new Cal Leandros novel by Rob Thurman. Piecing things together little by little, the young man realizes he is a killer--but that he doesn't have an overwhelming need to kill. Imagine his surprise when a brother (named Niko) turns up, along with a debauched fellow named Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck), who drop some terrifying news on this blank-slate.

That's right- Cal's in for a rude awakening. Worse, they have a mission (about which he remembers nothing) and an enemy (ditto). And on top of that, he finds out why his memory's gone bye-bye: the spiders' bite stole his memories, and now he has to rebuild his identity from scratch.

All of Cal's friends, family, and supporting characters are viewed through the fresh lens of a Cal who's freed of the burden of his monstrous ancestry, though not his trademark sarcasm. He is (oddly enough) much happier than we've seen him before, which makes the inevitable realizations about himself that much more poignant. He's decided he's "not a bad guy" and is trying to be that, but the world (and genetics) are conspiring against him.

And of course, there's the ancient Egyptian near-goddess who's killing supernaturals for their life energy. As the last Auphe on Earth, Cal represents a very appealing target...

Thurman's new novel lets readers inside Cal's head in entirely new ways. He has the clarity of innocence in choosing how to feel about monsters, his life, his brother, and pretty much everything. It's fresh air for this series, breaking some of Cal's patterns thoroughly in the name of answering the question "who is Cal Leandros?"

Although Niko is still fundamentally himself, as is Goodfellow, we see them struggle to find how to be around this new Cal. There are some great moments of personal interaction (especially involving forks) that draw new boundaries around these characters.

But it wouldn't be a Cal novel without loads of butt being kicked. Thurman delivers in spades, especially a final showdown with Ammut (the novel's big bad), wherein Cal gets to choose who he wants to be...and learns that sometimes, life calls upon us to be something else.

As always, a great entry in a series that only gets better with each new installment.


By the way, check out Rob Thurman's website for a cool Cal video and widget!

Our Readers Respond

From: Ann Byassee:
Best review I've read of an awesome book--not just "best" in praise of the book, but "best" in the sense of really getting it! I loved this book. The snark, the action, and the incredible emotional journey. Rob Thurman does just keep getting better and better, impossible as it seems.

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