The premise of Playing Havoc is brilliant: What happens in individuals' lives following a solar flare? The setting on a small island in Britain allows for the characters' slowly dawning realizations about what has happened and what it will mean.
As readers, we are inside of the narrator's head. The positive aspect of this is that though we come to quickly realize the cause behind the failure of all electric devices, we learn how slowly it would unfold without broadcast news. The negative aspect, it a kind of repetitive list of the narrator's own thoughts and concerns. If you want to be mired in someone else's consciousness, you'll like this because I never doubted it was Giles re-considering his circumstances, but I found it a tad tedious at times.
That said, it was engaging to encounter a vast array of problems that would occur following such a cataclysmic event, problems both technological and social: from the failure of cell phones to the effects on plumbing, from declining resources to endless time, from stranded visitors to incendiary personalities. "What would I do?" is a question a reader asks repeatedly exploring unimaginable situations.
For the dystopic-minded "Playing Havoc" adds yet another vision of a future we'd like to avoid. But in this case, the pending apocalypse is large-scale and not within our power to avoid. Yet Morris' vision, as with many dystopians', is not dire; his characters provide hope. Just how that happens, you'll need to read to find out.
At first I thought it was another of the same that are cropping up, but placing the action on a small British island made it very interesting. I also liked the personal conflicts and interactions on the small island; they gave the story life. Short for my taste, but Steve didn't seem to leave enything out and it was quite enjoyable.