Review: Deadline, by Mira Grant

I was in a bus on my way home from work, reading Deadline by Mira Grant (part two of the Newsflesh trilogy–click here for my review of the first book, Feed). The aircon was a bit too cool. As I continued to read, my throat tightened and I felt suddenly warm–oh no no no–and I started to skim quickly through the next few paragraphs. I skipped some entirely, and thumbed the button for the next page. The end of the chapter.

Deadline, by Mira GrantI read. I sat back and stared at the screen. Then I let out a snort. I thumbed the back button and read again, starting from where I left off.

True story.

That was me yesterday. If I was in the safety of my room I would probably have burst out laughing. I was itching to tweet @seananmcguire and tell her, NO YOU DIDN’T! but considering that Deadline has been out a LONG time ago, it was better I didn’t.

And Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant fans have always looked at Feed as the traumatizing, NO YOU DIDN’T book.

Spoiler warning: obviously, spoilers for the first book, Feed, will be mentioned in this review. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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.

Quote from DeadlineDeadline is set a year after the events of Feed. The primary–well, only narrator–is Shaun, who isn’t doing too well with Georgia gone. He’s quit as head of the Irwins (the action news division) and hardly goes out in the field. He talks to Georgia in his head, so much that the rest of the After the End Times staff is so used to it, they’ve stopped really noting it. Mahir, who now heads the Newsies (the factual news division) goes so far as to ask him what Georgia thinks.

(Can I just say: I just adore Mahir. I think he is my favorite.)

It sounds positively loopy, and I think it’s amazingly genius. One of the misgivings I had going into Deadline was the fact that just when I’ve really started to care about Georgia, now I have to learn to care about her brother. I took me a while before I could feel emotionally invested with Georgia, and I was worried that it would happen again here, what with Shaun not really being more to me than “Georgia’s brother who she really cares about”.

However, Shaun is a lot more superficial and open with his emotions, which I feel helped in getting me “on board”, and having Georgia there was beneficial for me, as a kind of emotional transfer. Shaun is definitely not as complex and realized as Georgia–he’s much more simple, and maybe especially because of his grief, very single-minded and tunnel-visioned. It’s easy to like him and like reading about what he gets into, but it is ultimately Georgia who provides depth. I appreciated having her ghost around.

I also feel the setting of the story helped with feeling immediately closer to the characters. We had an election as the backdrop of Feed, but now we have nothing but closer focus on Shaun and the rest of the After the End Times staff left after the previous year’s events–Becks (new head of the Irwins), Maggie (new head of the Fictionals, the entertainment division), Alaric, Dave, and Mahir. There is still a conspiracy afoot, but it feels a lot more contained and intimate than a country-wide election.

The pacing was also spot on–there was always something happening, there is never a dull moment. Initially, I thought it might be because this book, being the second in the trilogy, is free from the world-building that Feed had to do–but while I’m sure it’s helped, Deadline goes so much deeper into the world and the details of the Kellis-Amberlee virus that you can’t rely on background knowledge. For example, I’m really glad that I chose to read, rather than listen, to this book–because there is enough detail and intricacy that I’ve gone back a few times to re-read bits and pieces to get it all settled in my head. (Scrubbing in an audiobook has always been unwieldy for me.)

It reads tighter and more exciting than the first book, and while the stakes are higher, the feelings of helplessness more pronounced–after all, Georgia was a Newsie: she’s more controlled and put-together than Shaun is–at the same time there’s that heady rush of adrenaline and you can just feel yourself running alongside the team, just going, going, going.

Seanan McGuire shines with her world-building and foreshadowing, and this is no exception. After finishing Deadline, I’m gripped with this need to re-read Feed, which is a bit unfortunate in my situation since I only have an audiobook (only currently; these books definitely have a place as traditional books in my bookshelf). I’m torn between wanting to sit down and figure out some key points by myself (and the ending–oh, the ending) before starting on the last book (titled Blackout), or giving up and just powering through the last in order to satisfy my questioning brain.

This is no shabby second book. In general, the magic of that first glimpse into a new world, of meeting the characters, is difficult to beat. I still feel that Georgia was the most interesting character in Newsflesh, but what Deadline lacks in depth and introspection, makes up for in engagement and excitement (and how!). If you prefer more action in your escapist fiction, you’re going to prefer Deadline over Feed.

Check this out.

A whimsical rating:

  Definite must-read, worth a spot on the keepers bookshelf!

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