Book 38: Deadline (The Newsflesh Trilogy, Book Two) by Mira Grant, isbn 9780316081061, 608 pages, Orbit, $9.99
The Premise: (from the back cover): "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 much 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 again to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun."
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: At the end of my review of FEED, I said, "I can also say (and I doubt anyone would be surprised) that FEED is the first of a trilogy. I'm not sure how quickly I'll rush out to pick up book two, DEADLINE. I think FEED stands well enough on its own that I don't necessarily feel the need to see the story continued; I guess my decision will rest solely on how much I miss the surviving members of Team Mason by the time the new book hits the stands."
Obviously, I missed the surviving members of Team Mason far more than I thought I did. I bought DEADLINE the moment I saw it on the shelf. It took me another week or two to get around to reading it, and it's been over a week since I finished reading it, but I don't regret snapping it up as soon as I saw it.
Any complaints I had about the first book, in terms of characterization or the same-ness of the different characters' blog entries, are pretty much gone in this book. The pacing is excellent. The new characters (or the old supporting characters with increased importance and screen-time) fill out the cast nicely in the wake of the main characters lost in FEED. Becks, Mahir, Alaric, Kelly -- all add more depth to a story told entirely through the lens of Shaun Mason's slowly increasing insanity.
Yes, Shaun is going insane thanks to what happened in FEED. No doubt about it. The other characters know it, and any reader who writes it off as hyperbole or as some clever trick of the author -- no, sorry. He's nuts. He knows he's nuts. He's functioning (barely, some days) but he's nuts. Actually, I take that back -- there is a clever trick on the author's part. The trick is in making us understand that Shaun is almost certifiable and yet still making us believe he can solve whatever problems the team is faced with as he tries to dig deeper into the conspiracy that has effectively ruined his life and is quite possibly going to ruin the world.
I described FEED as a "zombie political thriller ala ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN." I've been describing FEED to people as a "zombie medical thriller ala Robin Cook's books." Once again, while the zombies are the every-day problem the characters need to deal with, it's the medical conspiracy Kelly brings to the team's attention that is the main focus of the book (just as the political campaign intrigue was the focus of FEED). And I think this is why I'm enjoying Mira Grant's books far more than any other print zombie story I've ever read -- because the zombies are there, but the focus is on a bigger story than just "let's try to survive while undead creatures try to eat us."
Once again, I find I can't say too much about what really makes the book work for me without spoiling major events. So it'll have to suffice, I suppose, if I say that the events at the close of FEED provide the major momentum for the events of DEADLINE, and the last 20 pages of DEADLINE will provide the momentum of the final book in the trilogy, BLACKOUT. And this time, there's no doubt in my mind: I will be picking BLACKOUT up the week it hits the stands, and probably reading it that quick. I need to see how this whole thing wraps up.