Bantam, Random House Australia, 2008
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
BLACK OUT begins very provocatively:
Today something interesting happened. I died.
Annie Powers named her daughter Victory, a symbol of a past she thought
she had conquered and left behind. In another life, in a very
dysfunctional family where her mother fell in love with a murderer and
rapist on death row, Annie was part of traumatic events she has tried hard
to forget. But now her past is catching up with her. A man she thought was
dead, the father of her child, has come back for her, and Annie can no
longer tell whether her memories are true or delusions.
There can be no doubt to the reader that Annie Powers has a psychotic
problem, a dissociative disorder. At times she sees her former persona as
a separate person, someone she hates and has tried to destroy. By the time
of her death mentioned in the opening lines, she is no longer sure of who
she can trust.
Lisa Unger explores Annie's vulnerability as she tries to leave her former
life behind. She paints a disturbing picture of Annie's mind as those
around her, even those she is closest to, try to persuade her that what
she knows has happened hasn't.
The reader may find Unger's technique of slotting in episodes from
different time frames difficult to cope with. There are three major slices
of time: the present, the recent past, and the deep past; and the book
plunges from one to the other with little or no warning, and only
This was an extraordinary book: very provocative in its exploration of how
a person with a dissociative disorder may see the world. Looking at it as
a thriller, I did feel that some of the events stretched the bounds of
You can read quite a considerable part of the book online, in fact the
Prologue and the first seven chapters. In my copy that is the first 42
pages. There is also a synopsis and a trailer to watch.
Lisa Unger has written 4 books:
Beautiful Lies (2006)
Sliver of Truth (2007)
Black Out (2008)
Die for You (2009)
May 2009 review originally posted on Murder and Mayhem
All cover art used at Reviewer's Choice Reviews is copyrighted by the
respective publisher. All reviews and articles found at Reviewer's Choice
Reviews are the sole property of the contributor and are copyrighted by