6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Orbit Zombies ATTACK! Book Review: Deadline by Mira Grant

Title: Deadline

Author: Mira Grant

Genre: Post-Apocalypse/Dystopia, Horror, Thriller, Zombies, Speculative Fiction

Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: June 2011
Paperback: 581 Pages

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn’t seem as fun when you’ve lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

Stand alone or series: Book two in the Newsflesh series

How did I get this book: Review Copy from the publisher

Why did I read this book: I truly enjoyed Mira Grant’s first Newsflesh novel, Feed and her take on a radical post-zombie apocalypse world, in which bloggers (!) emerged as the bastions of truth and justice and the American Way. Feed ended with a hell of a donkey punch, so, naturally, I was thrilled to pick up Deadline and continue the story.

**NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS FOR FEED. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 1 AND WISH TO REMAIN UNSPOILED, LOOK AWAY! You have been warned.**

Review:

It has been a year since the drastic events that concluded Feed. A year since Shaun has had to kill his beloved sister George with a shot to the spine after she was injected with a live dose of Kellis-Amberlee and began to amplify. A year since life has stopped to hold any meaning for Shaun and his news team, and Shaun has officially began to go crazy and talking to the voice of his dead sister in his head. They say the pain is supposed to go away and fade over time, but for Shaun Mason, nothing could be farther from the truth. The only reason his grief hasn’t fully consumed and led Shaun to death is for the single fact that he owes George the truth – and he’s vowed to find out who was behind the murder of his sister and bring them to justice. Although he has this single-minded purpose, Shaun hasn’t been able to make any headway in the investigation and has lost himself to listlessness. Now, aimless and practically retired from all Irwin fieldwork, Shaun is content to run the team from behind the scenes until CDC reserarcher Doctor Kelly arrives at his team’s doorstep, begging for help and sanctuary. Turns out, the chipper young Kelly has faked her death at the CDC because she has uncovered a secret that could blow the lid off of everything – and also shed light on George’s murder.

With a government conspiracy of this magnitude, though, breaking the news could be fatal, and Shaun and his group of bloggers find themselves in a deadly race for their lives. It’s up to Shaun to rise up to the challenge.

Like many other reviewers and readers, I have mixed feelings about Deadline. I know, certainly, that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did Feed, although there are enough things done well that make Deadline worth the read. Hell, it’s a good book – but it’s not without its significant stumbling blocks. What Deadline did have going for it, like Feed before it, was the painstaking amount of detail and research that went into the imagining of Kellis-Amberlee and the medical thriller/conspiracy aspect of the book. Mira Grant is not one to shy away from detail or cut back on background, and the level of intricacy that the author uses to describe the genesis, mutation, and virological properties of the chimera/rhinovirus that brought on the apocalypse is nothing short of pure awesomeness. In Deadline, the CDC plays a much more central role in the story with nefarious undertones – yes, it’s clear who the bad guys are from the start of the book (governments and government organizations are ALWAYS evil), but the medical thriller aspect of the book unfolded in a tantalizing and highly enjoyable way.

As with its predecessor, I remain impressed with the level of worldbuilding in this Newsflesh universe, and I like that humanity has found (at least temporarily) a way to coexist with an ever-present virus that could decimate the population at any time. The blood tests, the bleach baths, the level of bureaucracy, the constant terror that people must live with are all wonderfully imagined and decidedly unique (almost every zombie book/film/comic I’ve ever seen involves Mad Max-esque wastelands, not an emergence of hi-tech neo-totalitarianism).

Unfortunately, there were a number of things that hampered my enjoyment of this book. The first thing to note is that Shaun isn’t nearly as compelling a narrator as (adopted) sister George. Deadline begins strong with Shaun’s grief as fresh a year after George’s death as it was the day he had to kill her, and Shaun is so pushed to the brink by this loss that he actually holds conversations with George in his head. And out loud. And even in person, at some points. While this makes for a fascinating character study initially, over the course of 600 or so pages, it gets annoyingly repetitive. Shaun’s interactions would go something like this: someone makes a comment, George comments on the comment, Shaun vocally tells George to hush, everyone looks at Shaun like he’s crazy, Shaun titters and waves it off as “Yes, I’m crazy, that was George, she says hi.” Lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, the extent of Shaun’s characterization was defined by this grief, his crazy conversations with his lost sister, his incessant drinking of coca cola, his motorcycling around, his baring his teeth in weird scary smiles, and his fervent desire to punch everyone in the face.1 Needless to say, Shaun is not nearly as nuanced as his sister. I don’t hold this against him, but the level of monotonous repetition worked against the parts of Deadline that actually did work, and took away from my enjoyment of the novel.

On that same subject, from another writing-voice perspective I liked all the swearing and the guns and general badassness in this book, but at the same time it’s a little hard to swallow because all the characters speak in the same way (the emails from the good doctor Abbey, for example, sound exactly like Shaun), and that’s kind of frustrating.

Of course, the biggest bone of contention lies in one huge jaw-on-the-floor revelation made in the late chapters of the novel. I won’t spoil, but I will say that the revelation came out of left field and did not seem to hold any integrity with the first novel.2 I don’t mind the revelation for what it is, but it bothers me in that it felt gratuitous and played for shock value, as opposed to a natural development. That is, this monkeywrench did not sit well given George’s prior narration.

In that vein, many of the plot developments in Deadline were less…organic than those in Feed. While the first book employed twists effortlessly and built towards a dramatic conclusion that never once wavered towards contrivance, Deadline depends more on huge, hulking twists that bordered on the melodramatic. It’s a fine line between mind-blowingly cool Season -1-LOST-WTFPOLARBEAR-ness and Season-6-LOST-We-live-in-a-magical-floating-island-with-a-LIGHT!-silliness, and the end of Deadline unfortunately strayed towards the latter. I’m intrigued by the big ol’ surprise ending – but I’m also a little worried because when plots need huge deus ex machina sorts of devices to bail them out, I fear that the story has gotten away from the writer. Also, the strongest elements of the Newsflesh books are the scientific detail and worldbuilding, and the ending of Deadline is rooted in science fantasy. I have no problems with fantasy technology – but to date this series has been so grounded in plausibility that I fear the conclusion of this penultimate book is a huge Jump The Shark moment. I continue to hope for the best and for explanation in book 3, Blackout, though.

Despite my gripes with the narration, repetition, and hard-to-swallow twists, Deadline is a hell of a ride, filled with fascinating nuance about the origins and proliferation of KA and what it means for the future of humanity. I’ll be around for book 3, with hopes that Ms. Grant can capture that awesome realism and tension from Feed once more.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Using Hachette’s OpenBook platform you can read an excerpt of the first three chapters online using the widget below, or by clicking HERE.

Rating: 6 – Good

Reading Next on Orbit Zombies Attack!: Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen

 

Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, kobo, google, & sony

  1. I swear with Beelzebub as my witness if I have to read another line about Shaun popping the tab off a coke, bitching about the saccharine sweet carbonation and comparing it to a Candyland Whore one more time, I will punch HIM in the face. You know, in my head.
  2. If you’ve read the book and want to discuss in the comments, feel free – but PLEASE spoiler tag EVERYTHING.

26 Comments

  • Slayra
    July 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I’m curious about this series but I’m a bit of a coward and I don’t… like zombies much. Would you still recommend this series?? 😕

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    July 19, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Slayra- I’m just chiming in because I’m also a bit of a coward when it comes to zombies. In fact, I hate the zombie horror story more than anything. However, I did read Feed because I’m also a scientist and I was intrigued by the premise.

    Feed is fantastic, both from an emotional and scientific background. I would definitely recommend it as an awesome book. However, it did give me zombie nightmares, and I thought about it for days afterward with a sort of sick horror… If zombie books do the same to you, and you can’t handle it, then I wouldn’t recommend it. If you can, go for it!

  • Thea
    July 19, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Slayra – I would DEFINITELY recommend the series. Feed is a wonderful book and not at all what you’d expect from a “zombie novel.” It’s actually far more of a political thriller, with scientific heft to back it up (as Lindsay Elizabeth confirms above). I didn’t find it scary, but then again, I think I’m pretty desensitized!

    I will say this – I know a number of non-zombie/non-horror fans that have read and loved the series. I hope you get a chance to enjoy it!

    Lindsay Elizabeth – Have you had the chance to read Deadline yet? I’m curious to see what others think, especially re: the big complication and conclusion of the novel…

    I wholeheartedly agree with you in regards to Feed‘s awesomeness, though.

  • Paige
    July 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Slayra, I loved Feed, and like you, I don’t like zombie novels.

    I also loved Deadline: I think I might have liked it even more than Feed. For me, though, it was very much a book about grief and disability, because that was how I interpreted Shaun’s ongoing dialogue with George. I thought that the effect of said disability was to start raising questions about the binary of healthy/ill, and how it operates in society. I also liked Deadline as an exploration of identity, and how it’s affected by our relationships with others.

    As for the ending, and the couple of surprising things that happened, I was startled by them (though I wondered briefly, early on, if we were being set up for Revelation #2) — but I didn’t react with dismay, mainly because I thought that both revelations were going to cause as many problems as they solved. This is a series about journalism, right? And about information transmission, or transformission, to use a word coined by Randy McLeod, who studies how renaissance texts are transmitted and changed. So it makes sense to me that Newsflesh would become a story about when phenomena (like a disease, or a change in it) become information as they’re discovered, and then what happens as humans interact with that information. And revelation #2, and the character to whom it happens: well — that’s as much a story about an individual grappling with information as anything.

    I sound very academic, don’t I? And make the books sound very academic as well, so it’s kind of amazing that I devour them the way I do. I think that Mira Grant is doing a bang-up job of blending hard and soft sci-fi with them.

    One other thing: given her interest in parasitology and epidemiology, and the stuff that’s covered in Parasite Rex, which she’s mentioned as influential, it made sense to me that she’d want to play with the more unusual and “out there” side of diseases and mutating organisms: in that sense, that Deadline turned in the direction it did didn’t surprise me in the least. And I suppose that reading Parasite Rex also meant that I didn’t see some of the plot shifts as inorganic; for me, they mirrored the unpredictability of discoveries about disease.

    But I also might just be a sucker who really liked the book.

  • Thea
    July 19, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Paige – Regarding Shaun and his grief (and that being an effective commentary on the dichotomy of health and illness in society), fair enough. I personally didn’t find the characterization effective, but to each their own! I’m glad it worked for you.

    As to the ending notes, I’d love to discuss more and in less nebulous terms than revelation #1 and revelation #2, as I’m a little confused as to which twists you are referring! So, spoilers ahoy!

    I REPEAT, SPOILERS FOLLOW! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, READ NO FURTHER.
    .
    .
    .
    .

    The two twists I was referring to in my review were:

    1. Shaun and George having a sustained sexual relationship, which felt inauthentic to me because of George’s prior narration in Feed

    and

    2. Shaun’s immunity to KA and George waking as a clone in CDC custody.

    I don’t think these are the revelations or twists that you mention in your comment, but I could be wrong. I’m a little confused as to how either of those revelations pertain to the transformation, transmutation, or even “transformission” (fun word!) of information.

    My only gripe regarding the science of Deadline lies with “cloning” technology. Granted, cloning is a possibility and reality, but the ability to clone a full-grown human in the span of a year (or less), implanted with the same memories of the “original” person is pretty out there in science fantasy territory. Like I said before, I have no problems with science fantasy. Heck, I love it. But for books so rooted in tangible and more believable science fact, it’s a departure that I think detracts from the series overall.

    (Not to mention, the creation of a clone George and an immune Shaun seems like a terrible cop out. It pains me to say it because I loved Feed so much, but there you have it.)

    As for the virology of KA and its jump from large mammals to insect vectors, I thought that was actually believable and quite well done – in fact, it was even expected. I’m very excited to see where that aspect of the story goes next.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    END SPOILERS

    I guess my point in this long-winded comment is that I have grown disconnected from the characters and melodrama of the story, but still find the world and Kellis-Amberlee fascinating. What I found inorganic were the shifts in character, voice, and the NON-epidemiological aspects of the plot.

    Then again, that’s just me. I’ve read tons of glowing reviews for Deadline, so mine may very well be a minority opinion. And that’s cool. Even without strong characters, I’m still really digging the series and am excited for the next book, so that should tell you something!

  • Paige
    July 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Thea, oh, yeah, the last thing that I intend with my earlier comment is to make any argument that my reading ought to trump someone else’s. I can totally understand your feeling disconnected, and I’m almost surprised I didn’t feel more of that disconnect myself. I couldn’t get into Lost for just the reasons that you mentioned, and the revelations at the end of the BSG reboot drove me nuts.

    I’m glad you clarified on revelations: I was thinking of Revelation #1 as Shaun’s immunity from KA, and Rev. #2 of Georgia as waking up as a clone.

    As for George and Shaun’s relationship, I can understand feeling thrown by that. There were moments in Feed that made me wonder about it, but I can also see feeling that it’s inauthentic. And I go back and forth about it a bit myself: sometimes I see it as a complex relationship whose portrayal I love because it’s not following the romantic formula of will-they-won’t-they, and sometimes I get annoyed, and feel that it’s been oversimplified.

    And I can certainly see how “clone George and an immune Shaun seems like a terrible cop out” — in fact, if Seanan McGuire hadn’t assured people that she was going to throw more into the mix, then I might be reacting entirely differently.

    I guess it just goes to show how much I’m taking on faith.

  • draconismoi
    July 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    @ Thea –

    SPOILERS BELOW

    I admit I was put out by the revelation about George and Shaun’s sexual relationship because, per George’s narration in Feed, I read her as asexual. And was SO DAMNED HAPPY to have a kick-ass asexual heroine who wasn’t coded as closeted or an assault survivor or….

    Well, you get the idea. I loved asexual George. Not so crazy about the Mira Grant pulls the VC-Andrews-incest-esque random plot twist. Just because?

  • Slayra
    July 20, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Thanks for answering everyone! I think I may give it a try. The only zombie book I’ve read was the Forest of Hands and Teeth and it wasn’t that bad… I guess I always associate zombie books with zombie movies and I really can’t stand those. *shivers* 😀

  • Thea
    July 20, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Paige – Oh man, I hear ya about BSG. I loved that show to pieces, but yes, there were some THINGS that were not…right.

    And you know what, despite my dislike of character developments in Deadline I am with you on keeping the faith. Mira Grant is phenomenally talented and I have hope that the last book will be better. I’m hopeful!

    draconismoi –

    SPOILERS FOLLOW

    Yes. YES. I agree. George was so honest and forthright in her narration, it seems like such a huge glaring omission to completely gloss over the fact that, hey, she sleeps with her brother every night. Especially since George basically narrated every. thought. that came into her head. How about when those flunkies kept flirting with Shaun? Nothing but minor irritation? ARGH.

    I agree with you – definitely random VC-Andrews-ish twist, played for what I can only assume is shock value.

    END SPOILERS

    Slayra – Yay, give it a go! I’m excited to see what you think. (And TFOHAT is awesome, isn’t it?)

  • Sumeria
    July 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Just chiming in to respond to the comments in re: the two/three twists.,,

    SPOILERS

    In re: the sexual relationship, I admit to having been surprised by it myself and I’m not sure I particularly am enamored of it, but for what it’s worth, the two aren’t biological siblings, so while an argument could be made for emotional incest, it’s not *technically* incest. Both are adopted, and we’re told in Feed that George is something like six weeks older, so I think we have to assume they have separate biological parents.

    In re: Shaun’s immunity to KA… that is a medical thing that does happen. I think it could have been more clearly explained in the book, and hopefully it will be in the third, but “contagious immunity” (to viral infections) is an observed thing that does happen on occasion between people who are all up in each other’s spaces like Woah. As far as that goes, the sexual relationship between the two of them probably makes Shaun a lot more likely to have contracted George’s immunity.

    As far as the cloning thing goes, something the author mentioned on her blog when someone raised the question of how sci-fi-y that seemed (and this I *really* wish were explained in the book, because it seems very necessary, but I’m again, hoping it gets detailed in the third volume) the issue in Real Life with force-growing clones (ie, getting a full grown person in a year) is that the procedures we’re experimenting with are carcinogenic. Since everyone in this universe is, by virtue of KA, immune to cancer, cloning technology is much simplified. The mental imprinting, I have not a clue on, but I’d be surprised if we don’t *get* an explanation eventually.

    So… my two cents.

    END SPOILERS

  • Paige
    July 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    @draconismoi

    SPOILERS BELOW!

    Oh, yes, an asexual heroine would have been so cool, indeed.

    @Sumeria

    Somewhere on Seanan McGuire’s blog, she’s said that yeah, we’ll get an explanation on the imprinting, and that it’s based on current science — really out there science, but stuff that people are working on.

    I’m intrigued.

  • Thea
    July 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I am loving this discussion, guys!

    SPOILERS BELOW!!!

    Sumeria – RE: the sexual relationship, I know *technically* it’s not incest as they have different biological parents, but to me, it doesn’t make the relationship any less incestuous. They grew up as brother and sister, they refer to each other as brother and sister, they think of each other as brother and sister. In any case, my problem with the storyline wasn’t about the incest per se, as it was more to do with the jarring nature of this reveal considering George’s prior narration (in which no sex and no romantic relationship with her brother was mentioned). Given how frank and forthright George is, I took this twist in book 2 as very hard to swallow. For what it’s worth!

    As to the natural immunity of Shaun to KA – that’s totally fine and I completely understand and agree with you that it is a real thing, and some people are naturally immune (or develop immunities) to certain viruses or bacterial infections. My point of contention in Deadline is that it seems far too pretty and convenient for Shaun to magically be one of the 1/1,000,000,000+ to have developed that immunity.

    And as to cloning and memory imprinting – well, I’ll believe it when I read it in the next book. As it stands in Deadline (based on no knowledge of the author’s plans or explanations outside of the book), I am skeptical.

    BUT I am a skeptic with hope! I eagerly await Blackout and will hope all of these issues are addressed!

    END SPOILERS

  • Sumeria
    July 21, 2011 at 6:15 am

    @Thea

    SPOILERS

    Re: the incest, yeah, I don’t actually disagree per se. It slightly improves the situation (for me) that they’re not “really” siblings, but the thing that most helped me get over finding that kind of emotionally icky anyway was the realization that the Masons were never really a *family* to them. Given the distance and exploitativeness of their relationship to their “parents”, I started thinking of them less as incestuous siblings and slightly more as… mmm, prisoners in hostile territory, for lack of a better phrase. From that perspective, it bothered me less, but I must agree: abrubt reveal.

    But about Shaun’s immunity, I was actually referring to something slightly different then you are. (This is an area about which my scientific expertise is nil, so I may be way off, but.) My understanding is that sharing constant living space and body fluids with a person carrying antibodies to a disease can actually infect you with those antibodies. Like getting sick in reverse.

    I am choosing to have faith on the cloning/neural imprinting/brain transplant mostly because of how well sourced the science behind the virus is, and because I can see why one might not choose to reveal what the methodology behind them is at the end of book 2. If nothing else, it lets us share in the wtf of the characters. Because Shaun and his team don’t know anything about contagious immunity, but the good doctor seemed less surprised than I’d expect if she couldn’t think of *any* reasonable explanation. And George took being a clone way too much in stride for someone who didn’t have an inkling that cloning technology might have advanced in this direction.

    In any case, I guess we shall see. ::wants third book::

    END SPOILERS

  • Trev
    July 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Kay, normally I don’t comment, but this discussion is simply too good to pass on…

    SPOILERS BELOW…

    1 – Re Shawn’s possibly acquiring immunity from George… the CDC / whoever is actively killing off people with resevoir conditions prior to introducing new virus strains, presumably to prevent people from developing immunity… so with many of the people with resevoir conditions dieing, how common is it that someone would have grown up in regular close contact with one? I think the “1/1,000,000,000+” chance of Shawn inheriting Georgia’s immunity that Thea referred to might be much more likely but for the the fact that that situation doesn’t occurr all that frequently due to the murders. And most of the time, do people wait to do a blood test after possible infection like Shawn did?

    2 – On George’s clone… I find myself asking why the CDC would do this. Is it for study? Is George’s immune response to KA that unusual? Does she know something they need to know? They would have cloned her in Feed, either after the attack which killed Buffy and led to them being taken into CDC custody, or from her body after Shawn shot her. I don’t think she was cloned to “mess with” the minds of the After the End Times crew, since the CDC demonstrated in deadline that they wanted Shawn and co dead.

    3 – Is the fact that Shawn talks to Georgia related to the existance of clone Georgia? Neither wears sunglasses or has retinal KA. Seems like a big coincidence.

    4 – On the nature of Shawn and George’s relationship… I don’t think the sexual aspect was for shock value… I recall reading something from Mira/Seanan saying it was necessary from a plot point of view. It also wasn’t a total shock to me… there were places in Feed where I got the impression that there was more to Shawn and Georgia’s relationship than George was letting on. I also saw Shawn and George’s relationship as more “really close friends who have only one another to count on against the insanity of the world around them” that “traditional brother and sister”. I would have preferred if the sexual aspect of their relationship hadn’t been there, but I guess if Mira says it was necessary from a plot point of view… well, she would know.

    Eagerly awaiting book 3… I think the last time I was this interested in a series was Harry.

  • Thea
    July 22, 2011 at 6:41 am

    The discussion continues! Thanks, everyone, for chiming in. It’s really interesting to see all the different opinions, and, hey, it’s the mark of a good author that can get us all chattering about a book, right?

    Trev –

    SPOILERS SPOILERS YADA YADA

    1 – A very valid point! I can see it being more likely than an infinitesimal fraction – but it still rings as highly convenient/plot contrivance and disappointing for me. Given that Mira Grant killed George in the first book – an unconventional move for a planned trilogy – I was expecting a level of cold, harsh realism for the series. I totally see where you and everyone else is coming from, in that it IS possible to stretch the boundaries of belief to incorporate the big twists and reveals in Deadline

    it’s just that I don’t find myself convinced, or even willing, to extend that credulity. Given the setup of the first book, the factual tone, the rooting in hard science, being asked to suspend disbelief mid-series is unsettling. Of course, this is just my opinion! Clearly, other people feel otherwise, and that’s cool!

    2 – I’m sure that the CDC’s motivations will be revealed soon enough, but it’s fun to speculate! Anyone else get that Resident Evil/Alice vibe? Is it possible that there are multiple Georges down there for testing?

    3 – A great point, I thought of that too when reading Deadline! If that’s true…are we verging into telepathy-clone territory? I don’t know how to feel about that.

    4 – Fair enough, and maybe there will be some big sweeping rationalization in the next book for the relationship. BUT, as it stands (and even if there is an awesome revelation/rationalization later), I personally thought it was unnecessary and bothersome. Different strokes and all that jazz, right?

    END SPOILERS

    At least we can all agree that we’re excited for Blackout, right?

  • Scott Glass
    July 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Love the series; here’s my two cents.

    Cloning/Imprinting memories.
    Scientists have been training mice to run mazes, then grinding up their brains and injecting them into the brains of untrained mice, who then suddenly either know how to run the maze or are able to learn it in half the time of normal mice. -They’ve been doint this since the 60’s and still don’t have a full understanding of how it works.

    Since the CDC took George’s body after her death and the CDC has a mandate for full body cloning, I won’t be too hard a sell on the idea -if the author can make it work in the storyline.

    Let’s face it, full body cloning -with memory transfer, is a practical form of immortality. As such, it would have a much larger impact on the human race than a simple Zombie Apocalypse.

  • Scott Glass
    July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Oh, one more thing,

    ***********SPOILER ALERT************

    Regarding the big reveal on Shaun and Georgia’s relationship.
    I (and I think many) saw that coming half way through FEED.

    As a brother, who has grown up with a sister only one year apart, whom I have loved, hated, ignored, appreciated, disdained, respected and loved again; throughout my life. I can tell you that siblings are just not that close. Barriers go up early and, though we may alternate between loving them and hating them, those barriers always remain.

    In FEED, it was obvious those barriers, the mental separations humans use to define the “self”, the “other” and the “we”, did not exist with his sister and without them, a very intense co-dependent relationship was formed.

    Shaun still communicates with his dead sister, not out of mourning, but as a defensive mechanism; for without Georgia, Shaun Mason is not a complete entity and would not be able to function. Georgia will be “haunting” Shaun for the rest of his life –unless a physical Georgia can be brought back to take the ghosts place…

    -Scott

    **********END SPOILERS *********

  • MisterT
    July 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Spoiler:

    I actually didn’t feel the Georgia/Shaun sexual relationship was out of place at all. I kept noticing a number of times in Feed where their relationship seemed a little TOO close to be a traditional sibling relationship. Add the fact that they were both allied against the way their parents exploited them (and factor in the accompanying off-camera neglect from those same parents) and I wasn’t surprised at all to find they were sleeping together. Upon reflection, it’s pretty clear that Georgia never mentioned it in Feed the same way she never really mentioned her bowel movement or her period – it was simply part of the biological background noise she wasn’t interested in talking about. It also explains why her handsome, adventurous, adrenaline-soaked brother wasn’t cutting a swath through the available women at any given moment and why she was always bemused (but not threatened) by women flirting with him. They were a unit, they always saw themselves as a unit and the sex aspect was completely ordinary and not worth mentioning. Feed makes it very clear that neither of them trusted anyone else (not even their own parents, for god’s sake!) and this attitude was proved correct by the betrayal of Buffy. By screwing each other they not only further cemented their unity but also ensured that they never needed to rely upon/trust/let in anyone else. Makes perfect sense to me.

    And while I’m at it, I’ll mention that this is almost the sort of background throwaway that I kind of like in a book. In the otherwise execrable “Time Traveler’s Wife there’s a similar throwaway moment where the protagonist (who uncontrollably travels through time and has since he was five) mentions in an offhand way that he was visiting himself from last week and they were having sex when this other important plot-related point came up. After the initial double-take, you realize that for someone in his unique position, this is effectively masturbation and therefore not really textbook homosexuality. It added quite a bit of depth to the character – too bad the rest of the book was poorly plotted and drippily written. It also clashed horribly with the somewhat pedophiliac aspects of the plot which were very deliberately never mentioned…

    As for Shaun’s immunity, I don’t have an issue with it. Note that at this point we KNOW the CDC has been screwing around with developing new strains of the virus and we know they have a virtual monopoly on all testing units. Throw in the whole conspiracy issue and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if plenty of people are either immune or partially immune. Bear in mind one of the major plot points of Deadline is that Georgia might very well have recovered from her deliberate infection. Dr. Kelly claimed she only had a 1:2000 chance of recovery, but she was pretty thoroughly painted as a pawn and a dupe and she may not have known what she was taking about. At this point, I think EVERYTHING we know about KA is subject to skepticism.

    The clone I’m not sold on at all, but I’m willing to wait for Blackout for a good explanation.

  • Kendra
    July 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    ****SPOILERS****

    I think the emotional incest was subtly and well done in the first book, but the sexual relationship reveal didn’t ring true to me. Firstly, I agree that George would have brought it up in her narration, especially since she acknowledges that most people find it weird that she and her adult brother share hotel rooms, but brushes it off as them being such close siblings because of their emotionally neglectful parents. Also, since they are siblings, I would have expected George to lessen that connection in her internal narrative. I would have found it more authentic if she hadn’t constantly referred to Shaun as “my brother” instead of by his name, which just enforces their sibling relationship. I think she would have tried to lessen the brother-sister aspect of their relationship to make their sexual/emotional relationship seem more acceptable in her own mind.

    Another reason that it seemed forced was that, like some of the previous commenters, I read George as an asexual character. Being inside her head, she seemed too emotionally closed off and practical to be in this kind of relationship. Even when they were alone together, I got the impression that she was still closed off, even from Shaun. It would be more believable to me had it been a purely emotional relationship. From Shaun I could believe the sexual aspect, but knowing George as well as we do, it doesn’t ring true to me that she would 1) admit to having those kind of feelings, or 2) give in to them knowing how those kind of relationships are viewed.

    Did anyone else think that chapter with Becks was totally out of left field, and pretty obvious that it was a device to reveal Shaun and George’s sexual history?

    I agree that while both George and Shaun living at the end of the book may be possible because of the science, having BOTH of them die and come back just seems like a cop out. I’m glad George came back as a clone, I think it will add a lot of science and emotional plot to the last book, but having Shaun survive also seemed like too much, especially since Grant comes off as a pull no punches author. (But I do like the idea of him acquiring immunity from George’s retinal KA)

    The one other thing that bothered me about this book (though this may be a purely personal peeve) was how mean the entire team was to Kelly. It seemed strange how rude they all were to her from the very beginning– sure point a gun at someone for your own safety, but why do you have to be a jerk about it? And it seemed like they would get over it and decide they liked her (even after the encounter with the crazy virologist), but then in the next scene go right back to being mean!

    I really enjoyed this book, though not as much as Feed. Shaun was a bit irritating as the main character (you’ve just said you’re running out of time and the CDC is locking down after you, so why are you making snarky quips for a whole paragraph when a one word answer would suffice?). Seems like the plot points and the narrater were more heavy handed in this novel, making it more Michael Bay, but I can’t wait until the next one, and I’m so glad that George is back.

  • Shelley
    January 30, 2012 at 12:26 am

    For the record, I’m actually delighted they opted to go the route with cloning Georgia and bringing her back. I was very attached to her from “Feed” and found her a very interesting and insightful character, refreshing in her pragmatism. I’m very much looking forward to reading “Blackout” as this is the first zombie series I’ve read that explains zombies in a scientific and logical way without making my head ache like a in depth biology student’s report.

    As to her relationship with Shaun, while it shocked me slightly to begin with, it grew on me rather quickly. I had always thought the idea of them being so physically affectionate and sharing a bedroom no less as adults was rather…odd. After all, why wouldn’t a stud like Shaun be draping himself in beautiful, bubble-headed femme fans that came with his fame and exploits? The answer, of course, was that he’d found his one true soul mate as a very young child and had no need to bother with other women. Georgia and Shaun compliment each other so perfectly, they have a sweet, forbidden, taboo sort of romance lingering around them in such a natural way it’s as unneeded to mention as breathing. Now that I know it’s there, I’m almost astonished I didn’t pick it up immediately in the first book. As Shaun once stated, it’s almost as if The Rising occurred just to bring them together. For all I know, something in their combined DNA might be the cure to Kellis Amberlee all along.

  • Ross
    March 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Who’s to say that Shaun doesn’t have some other reservoir condition that even Joe doesn’t have? His immunity doesn’t bother me so much because I just read “Thunder and Ashes” by Z.A. Recht, and at the end of the book one of the people is immune to that world’s particular version of the zombie virus. It may not be super common, but even some people survived the Bubonic Plague. (I realize the Bubonic Plague wasn’t as devastating as Kellis-Amberlee.)

    I also think George would have brought that up in Feed. It’s ridiculous that it was added into this book the way that it was. It seemed sloppy and contrived. However, I’ll allow it because I really love these books. I’m super excited about Blackout, mostly because I miss George. Hopefully she’ll come back as asexual and this discussion can be dismissed as “She really wouldn’t mention it after all.”

  • Melissa
    May 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I didn’t get into this series until very recently, and just finished Deadline a few days ago. Your review echoes my opinion of the book very closely.

    I was hoping Shaun would grow more as a character throughout the story, but he just seemed to tread water. And I’m not thrilled with the ‘science fantasy’ twist either. Here’s hoping that Blackout feels closer in style to Feed than it does to this book.

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  • Caio Borrillo
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    I really love de site, but… what the hell happened with the layout? Why is so damn ugly now?

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