With the release this week of Blackout, the third book in Mira Grant‘s Newsflesh series, we’re taking a look back at the second book, Deadline. Deadline picks up where the first novel Feed ended and starts off with Shaun Mason dealing with the consequences of this actions in the first book. For those who haven’t read Feed – warning: the next few paragraphs mention spoilery events from Feed.
After the demise of the main character and blogger extraordinaire Georgia Mason as a result of the virus inside her amplifying and making Kellis-Amberlee activate itself, her brother is forced to kill her so that she doesn’t turn into a zombie. This decision still haunts him in Deadline, which sees Shaun finding out that there may be more to the Kellis-Amberlee disease than previously thought, including the suggestion that he could have spared his sister’s life as she would have eventually fought the transformation.
Georgia communicates with Shaun through a telepathic link, and often interjects comments when she’s worried about him or suspects that someone is lying, which creates an interesting dynamic with his point of view, which Deadline is told through.
Although an interesting and well-written novel — and definitely a strong offering from Mira Grant — Deadline lacked most of the action that the first book in the series had. It starts off with Shaun not really sure what to do or where to go after having ended his sister’s life, and the writing feels like the author questioned where to go after Feed but didn’t come up with a genuinely exciting response. Usually I expect the second book to be even better than the first. And although this one has its exciting moments, they mostly involved the scientific discovery/conspiracy “aha” moment, which although interesting and full of potential, comes too late in a plot that needed something more riveting in the beginning to incent the reader to keep reading (or at least this reader, at any rate). The zombie attacks are few and far between, and the government represents more of a “we control everything, including science and medicine” type of entity manifested by a doctor named Kelly, who it turns out has perfected the art of human cloning, which shakes things up a bit.
There’s a romantic subplot between Shaun and Becks, one of the other people on his team, so the book isn’t without its tender moments, and Shaun’s feelings of loss really do permeate quite intensely as the novel goes on. He can’t forget Georgia, will never be free of her presence, and suffers constantly with the guilt of how things turned out for her.
Still, the concept of bloggers being the most trusted media outlets in the future is one that makes even more sense in this volume, and the blog entries that preface each chapter and section opener complement the main overarching narrative until it reaches a boiling point. The ending, while it does have a shock factor that I won’t ruin, is designed as a deliberate cliffhanger to make readers compelled to wait for the third and final book, Blackout. It’s definitely interesting enough that it makes me wonder how Grant is going to follow up on the the plotline she introduces near the end of this book, but if the action doesn’t pick up at peak levels in Book Three, I’m not sure I would be so willing to invest in it.