{Hidden Stars} Blackout by Kit Mallory ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway

Posted May 11, 2018 by Bee in Giveaways, Hidden Stars, Interviews & Guest Posts, Reviews / 2 Comments

Welcome to the first edition of Hidden Stars! A feature meant to spotlight all the books that don’t get the spotlight as much as they deserve. First up is Kit Mallory and her book Blackout, a dystopian book with a queer MC, a sassy thief and a badass dancer. Here’s what it’s about:

{Hidden Stars} Blackout by Kit Mallory ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway

Blackout

by Kit Mallory
Series: Blackout #1
Published on May 8th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, LGBT
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Amazon | Goodreads

After the Board came to power the world changed the way a hunter stalks its prey: all paranoia and imagined flickers of shadow, so that while you were being torn to pieces you were still wondering whether you were overreacting.

For 16-year-old Skyler, fear is a way of life. For three years, since the Wall split the UK in two, her survival as an illegal Northern refugee in the South has been a perilous balancing act between staying in the shadows and clinging to her reputation as the South's best hacker.

Fellow refugee Mackenzie is a ghost from her past she'd rather ignore. But when their paths collide unexpectedly, Skyler sees an opportunity to exact revenge on the brutal regime that destroyed her home and family - even if it means she goes down with them.

Forced, with extreme reluctance, on the run together, Skyler and Mackenzie, along with enigmatic contract killer Angel, must find a way to outrun not only the Board and the South's most sadistic crime lord, but their own personal demons. If they can manage to not end up murdering each other in the process, that'll be a bonus.

But more is at stake than any of them realise. And Skyler, who has long believed she has nothing left to lose, is about to discover just how wrong she is.

Shortlisted for the 2016 Mslexia Children's Novel Award, Blackout is a story of resistance, friendship and survival.

4 Stars

Well wasn’t this an unexpectedly fun thrill ride of a book? I’m not that into dystopian books these days but I found myself really enjoying it quite a bit! Blackout is a tense, fun and exciting start to a new series that I can’t wait to continue. 

To start off, I just want to say that it’s so refreshing to read a dystopian book that doesn’t take place in the US, but in the UK! That is so awesome and something I personally haven’t seen much so far. The world-building is, for me, excellent and I just got enough info without it being dumped on my head. It felt real and the stakes were just high enough to feel realistic and it made everything so tense! And the tension just built throughout the book and then when the end came, it hit me like a brick and left me wanting more! 

So when it comes to the writing, I have no complaints. But then again, I don’t have any complaints about the characters either! I loved all of them. Angel is a badass who used to be a dancer. She’s fierce and loyal and so amazing. And Mackenzie is just the little sassy thief with a heart of mush. I adored him to pieces. And he was so relatable to me with his own mental health problems and I just… I can’t even with him okay? The only one I had trouble connecting to was Skyler for some reason? She’s an awesome hacker and kind of a badass too, but I just never fully connected to her as much as I wanted to.

There’s also a sweet f/f romance that my heart was just so happy with. It built slowly and it still is at the end of the book and it never took over the plot, which was nice because there was a lot at stake and I would have hated it if the romance made all that fade to the background. BUT IT DIDN’T. Hurray! So A+ for the romance too.

Honestly I don’t have much to complain about. I really enjoyed Blackout a lot and it’s a solid, good start to a new dystopian series with wonderfully and excellent diverse rep. Definitely a book I’m going to recommend to people a lot. For sure.

Interview

Q: Hello Kit! Tell me a bit about yourself and your start in writing? 

A: I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember – I believe my mum still has my original five-line epic about a family of bears that I wrote when I was four. After a few false starts, I got into novel writing as a teenager (brevity has never been my thing!) – mostly speculative in some way, all with heroines much more badass than I am. A few years ago, I got brave enough to join some writers’ groups and really started connecting with other writers for the first time, and that gave me the push I needed to start taking my writing more seriously and really start challenging myself to develop as a writer.

Q: I bet that was an epic bear story. How did the world and characters of Blackout come to be? 

A: It all started with Skyler. Before there was anything else, I had a girl who lived in a cellar who was angry with the world and everything around her. The setting evolved from a number of different things: as a kid, I remember hearing a lot that fossil fuels were going to run out within our lifetime, and wondering what that would mean for life as we know it; the North/South divide in the UK, which is often spoken about and I think still very real in many ways; and the Berlin Wall, which is something I just find absolutely fascinating. It seems incredibly outlandish (the stuff of dystopian fiction!) – this idea that a country could literally just be split in two overnight – but it really happened, and not even very long ago. The Berlin Wall didn’t come down until 1989, when I was three years old.

Q: In the book, Skyler and Angel devolop a bit of a romance, was their relationship based on one of your own? 

A: I can safely say I have never had a relationship quite like Skyler and Angel’s – and indeed that neither of them are based on anyone I’ve been in a relationship with! But I did of course draw on some of my own experiences of those sorts of emotions, especially thinking about what it’s like to realise you’re developing feelings for someone and seeing them differently, wondering whether they feel the same way or not, and not being quite sure of how to handle it all!

Q: My favorite character was by far Mackenzie, who suffers from OCD. How much research went into this? 

A: This part of Mack’s storyline was incredibly important to me. There’s still a huge amount of stigma, ignorance and misinformation about mental health, and I believe very much both that we need much more and varied representation of people with mental health problems, and that those of us who try to represent it have a massive responsibility to make sure that we do so in a way that’s as accurate and sensitive as possible.

In terms of research – I’ve been working in frontline mental health services for the last decade. OCD is actually an area of special interest for me, so I know a fair bit about it, both on a theoretical and a human level. I didn’t start out thinking “I’m going to write a character with OCD” – that evolved naturally as I got to know Mack as a character, and I think when you look at what he’s been through, his beliefs about those experiences and how that fits with what we know about OCD (for the geeky, I’m talking in particular about Salkovskis’ cognitive model of OCD, and I plan to do a more extensive post about this soon!) I think it makes sense that he’s developed the particular difficulties he has. I felt a particular sense of responsibility about writing a character with OCD, I think, because it’s so often misunderstood as being a bit quirky and comical and even used as a kind of punchline, when actually the reality is completely different. I really wanted people to be able to connect with how hellish Mack’s reality is when his symptoms are bad, and get across some sense of how difficult OCD can be to deal with and overcome, while also holding onto the hope that things could be better for him in future (and I do believe they can and will be!)

Q: That’s so cool! Can you reveal anything about what’s next for our trio? 

A: I’m very aware I need to tread carefully here, because as my girlfriend will tell you I am the ABSOLUTE WORST when it comes to accidentally giving away spoilers. Obviously the end of BLACKOUT sets up some, uh, significant challenges for Skyler, Angel and Mack to overcome. The sequel is not only about how they do that, but very much about how the events of the first book affect them all in different ways and how they deal with that, both individually and as a group. You’ll get to see through some familiar eyes, but also some that you didn’t get to see through in book one. I can also tell you that I’m having an absolute blast writing it!

Q: And lastly, do you have any tips for other writers such as yourself?

A: FEEDBACK! Connect with other writers, get all the feedback you can, and embrace it wholeheartedly (even the bits that make you want to cry!) Find your people. Celebrate your successes, big and little, the way you would for your dearest friend. Be kind to yourself. And most of all, don’t give up!

Giveaway

The Rules:
~ This giveaway will be INTERNATIONAL.
~ One UK/EU entrant will win a physical copy and one entrant outside the UK/EU wins an ebook copy.
~ Cheaters will not prosper.
~ If you’re under 16, you must have permission of your parents to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And that’s it for the first edition of Hidden Stars! Keep an eye out on the blog for one more this month.

Bee

Bee

Bee (born as Bieke) is 27 years old and from Belgium. (No she won't send waffles.) She's a strange, nerdy and anxious creature floating around somewhere on the ace spectrum. Oh, and she also writes books as Nelly B. Jones. Or tries to anyway. You can also find her on Novel Ink.

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2 responses to “{Hidden Stars} Blackout by Kit Mallory ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway

  1. Ooh this sounds SO good!! I really am keen for fantasy/specfic with diversity (it’s so sadly rare?!) and I love that this is f/f as well as having OCD rep. Neeeed. It was such a lovely interview too, I enjoyed reading it! (Also some of my favourite diverse books are definitely The Raven Cycle, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and Autoboyography!

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