Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Deadline" by Mira Grant

I was of two minds about Grant's first book in this series, Feed. On the one hand, I love zombie books, and there was some cool worldbuilding. On the other hand, the characters were often annoying and cliche, the exposition was slow, and there was excessive self-righteousness about the world of blogging. Deadline suffers from all the same flaws, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Deadline picks up a few months after the end of Feed. Shaun has taken control of After the End Times, the news site he ran with his sister, Georgia. Georgia died from a zombie infection at the end of the last book, but she's not gone. Shaun still talks with her, inside his head (he'll punch you if you comment about it, though--something he mentions about two dozen times). When a CDC researcher who faked her own death shows up at their offices, they begin to investigate a giant conspiracy designed to cover up truths about Kellis-Amberlee, the virus responsible for zombies.

Initially I was annoyed at having Shaun as a narrator. He has a tough-guy, "I don't care what anyone else says demeanor" that comes out a bit forced. However, I discovered I didn't mind him as much as I did in Feed, perhaps because he's talking to Georgia less, and the most groan-worthy moments were usually a part of their conversations. The additional characters--Becks (an Irwin), Maggie (head of the fictionals), Alaric--are welcome, though they're not given much personality as they mostly just do whatever Shawn says.

The initial conspiracy reveal is kinda neat. It's a nuanced problem, as you can understand the CDC's desire to keep the information quiet for public safety and Shaun's desire to have free knowledge. However, this subtlety is quickly done away with as the CDC becomes a cartoonish villain (the main guy even does the "let me explain everything to you before I kill you" spiel, just as in Feed). This is disappointing, as the characters then spend much of the book on the run from the CDC only to decide to infiltrate the CDC again and confront a researcher--cause, uh, that'll solve everything. Most of the rest of the novel is the crew sitting around, waiting for stuff to happen and not doing anything about what they know. Furthermore, like in Feed, Deadline is more about living in a world with zombies than about zombies themselves. The walking dead only make brief appearances, in fact, in the beginning and end of the novel.

Grant has learned some from the book before, as the enormously tedious descriptions of blood tests are significantly reduced. However, there's still a lot of repetition, like characters "raising their eyebrows" whenever Shaun talks to Georgia in his head or Shaun's incessant descriptions of drinking Diet Coke because Georgia wants one. Characters are stunned into silence or incredulous, over and over again.

I listened to both Feed and Deadline on audiobook, but this time I listened while cleaning and packing up my house. I found the book more enjoyable this way (last time I listened in a car ride) since I wasn't as focused on the book and could more easily gloss over the annoying parts.

I've come down pretty critically, but, in the end, I listened to the entirety of both books and had a pretty good time doing so. There's some really stupid parts and there's plenty that doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's not a bad ride.

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