Sunday, June 12, 2011
Firstly, I apologize to anyone who checks this blog every so often. I haven't updated in over a month because I've had some internet issues and my reading schedule (yes, I'm anal enough that I do have one, not that I stick to it) has worked so that I haven't been able to do anything for review just at the moment. Until Deadline, that is.
If you haven't read the first volume of Mira Grant's (pen name of Urban Fantasy author and John W. Campbell award winner Seanan McGuire) Newsflesh trilogy (Feed) be warned that there are spoilers for that here. You have been warned!
Okay, if you're still reading I'm going to assume that you've read Feed and jump straight into Deadline. It picks up a few months after the end of Feed and is narrated in first person by Shaun Mason. Ever since his adoptive sister George died in Feed, Shaun has been a lost person. He and George were one person, they just happened to share two bodies. Without George, poking zombies with a stick isn't fun anymore.
Shaun still runs the news blogging site (The End of the World Times) that he and his sister founded, but he's not active in the field anymore, and the guy who really runs the organisation is their man in London; Mahir Gowda. Shaun wants to stay out of the spotlight and deal with the mess his life is without Georgia. Being an Irwin, Shaun never really had a firm grip on sanity, but George's death seems to have knocked it looser than ever. She's dead and he still talks to her...and she answers back.
That's how it is until a refugee from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control); Dr Kelly Connolly, turns up on his doorstep and the subsequent spontaneous zombie outbreak manages to destroy their headquarters in Oakland. Events that also lead to the book's first significant death. From then on it's Shaun and his team of motley outlaw bloggers against the world, as it becomes clear they're about to blow the lid off one of the biggest cover ups in world history.
I'll make it clear that I adored Feed. It was one of my favourite reads of 2010, and I'm tickled pink that it's been deservedly nominated for the Hugo this year. I went into Deadline with some big expectations and for the most part it meets them. Not to say that it isn't without it's problems. It suffers from the lack of George and my own favourite character from Feed; techno whiz Fictional, Georgette 'Buffy' Messonier. I liked Shaun okay in Feed when he was filtered through Georgia's perspective, but with his somewhat hazy hold on sanity, and having him as the primary narrator makes him into a bit of an arsehole and somewhat hard to identify with. However I did like the urbane, anglo Indian Mahir Gowda and was glad he got a bigger role in Deadline. I also warmed to Shaun's fellow Irwin Rebecca 'Becks' Atherton, and head Fictional Magdalene 'Maggie' Garcia and her herd of miniature epileptic bulldogs were also suitably quirky. While, she was also at times a pain in the backside (possibly this is a side effect of living in a world where anyone can spontaneously turn into a flesh eating zombie), I was quite impressed with the no nonsense, tough talking, renegade medical researcher Dr Shannon Abbey.
Deadline does suffer a little from 'second book in a trilogy' syndrome in that for the first half of the book it's quite heavy on the exposition. It does a lot of 'this is what you missed' early on, before it gets into the new story. I do understand that not everyone picks up trilogies from the first book, but I felt this was overdone and I also would have appreciated a little less of Shaun explaining to everyone that he does talk to his dead sister and she talks back, but he's not all the way crazy.
Once you get over the half way mark the story ratchets up a notch or twelve, the action gets really tense and full on and the body count rises. As with Feed, I began to become concerned for the key members of the cast and know that not everyone was going to make it to the final page. Mira Grant is a master at this and I love her and her work for it.
After reading the Coda of Deadline and saying 'WTF?!' (anyone who says they saw that coming is lying) I'm now eagerly awaiting Blackout next year.
When will you rise?