Blackout by Mira Grant – Book Review

Blackout by Mira Grant
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

Blackout is the third book in the Feed trilogy and, as such, this review contains spoilers for the previous books in the series, Feed and Deadline.

Everything started going wrong when After the End Times followed the Ryman presidential campaign. Now they’re on the run, hunted down by the CDC. Actually, Shaun and his team are being hunted. His sister, Georgia, is dead. Well, she was dead. Now she’s alive again in a CDC facility. Sort of alive. Actually, she’s a clone, and not the first one they made of the original Georgia Mason, just the most realistic one to date. Can the After the End Times team reunite and break the biggest story of their lives before being take down by the CIA – or by zombie bears?

You GUYS. I preordered Blackout on my Nook. PREORDERED. And then I waited six months to read it. WHY? WHY I ASK YOU? WHY? Okay, but seriously, Blackout was perhaps my favorite of all of the books in the Feed trilogy, despite the fact it had been 18 months (and, oh, 300 books) since I had read any of the previous installments in the trilogy, so I had forgotten things.

But really, this is quite possibly the best book in the Feed trilogy. I adored the first one for the world building more than anything else (well, that and the politics and blogging angle…okay, I really just liked it a bunch in general), but even though Grant plays with her reader’s brains and sense of right and wrong, Blackout is just amazing. It all works, it all comes together. It also makes me want to go back and reread this entire series from the beginning, including the prequel novellas and the novella that is chronologically between Feed and Deadline. And then I want to sit patiently at Mira Grant (a pen name of Seanan McGuire)’s feet and wait for her to write more zombie things.

I love when the end of a trilogy validates my having started the trilogy in the first place, and Blackout does that in spades. Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Deadline by Mira Grant – Book Review

Deadline by Mira Grant
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

This is the second book in the Newsflesh series. This review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Feed.

Since the death of his sister George (Georgia), blogger Shaun Mason doesn’t have much to live for anymore. At this point, the only thing that his keeping him alive at all – and even then, only marginally – is the prospect of revenge, exposing whomever it was who ordered George’s death. The man who was her most immediate cause of death is no more, but Shaun knows there is a conspiracy that set everything up, certainly Tate could not have done everything on its own. This conspiracy seems to reach into the highest echelons of national and international power, and likely even into the CDC – the organization tasked with protecting Americans from the zombie-forming Kellis-Amberly virus, among other things.

Left nearly a metaphorical zombie himself after George’s death – a very dangerous condition, mind you, in the midst of literal zombies – Shaun gets a a jumpstart on life again when a CDC researcher who helped him and George in the past shows up on the doorstep of the After the End Times blog headquarters. Of course, this reanimation almost ends when a massive outbreak of zombies follows close on her heels. With the help of this researcher, herself fearing for her life due to her Kellis-Amberly research, Shaun realizes he might finally have enough information to figure out what happened to George and avenge her death.

It would not be inaccurate to say that Deadline is, more than anything else, a bridge between the first book in the Newsflesh series, Feed, and the third book, Blackout, which will be out in 2012. There are a great number of revelations both about Shaun and Georgia’s early life and their close relationship, and about the nature of Kellis-Amberly and the reality of the epidemic. Certainly things happen – the After the End Times news team does a great deal of traveling and hunting down leads to confirm the truth that is beginning to be unveiled. In addition, there is continued character development, mostly of Shaun, who becomes a much more strongly drawn character than he was in Feed. But primarily, Deadline is setting the scene for Blackout, complete with the traditional mid-series OMG moments.

What is really impressive about Deadline, is that it never feels like filler while you are reading it. All of the hard work that Grant did with world building in Feed helps Deadline feel fully realized. Interestingly, there were not nearly as many run-ins with zombies in Deadline, but this choice made sense for the story that is being told. As in Feed, the zombies are not the point, but more a part of the setting, telling a story of news, blogs, politics, and the culture of fear. It is this that makes the Newsflesh series so successful for me. Grant is using her zombie setting to tell us all a story about ourselves.

Highly Recommended. (Also: I can’t believe I have to wait an entire year to read the third book. This is worse than after I read Catching Fire.)

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The City & The City by China Mieville – Audiobook Review

The City & the City by China Mieville, narrated by John Lee
Published in audio by Random House Audio
Published in print by Del Ray, an imprint of Random House

Synopsis:

When a young woman is found murdered in Beszel, a city-state somewhere in Eastern Europe, detective Inspector Tyador Borlu finds himself pulled into a mystery with sticky inter-and trans-national implications, forcing him into the ‘neighboring’ city-state of Ul Qoma, in order to solve the crime before he becomes the next victim.

Thoughts on the story:

I absolutely adore the world that Mieville created in “The City & The City.” An outside observer would say that Ul Qoma and Beszel were one and the same city, but the residents and governments of the two city-states would soundly disagree. Since the two were meant to be different countries, although they were geographically intertwined, residents of one city could not interact with – or even admit to seeing – residents, buildings, vehicles, etc. of the other city without first crossing the border and visiting the other city. This made for a fascinating aspect of the story with all of the un-seeing that everyone was forced to do, and allowed the addition of various radical groups vying either for unification or more complete separation of the two entities. The disparities between the two cities was also very interesting, with Ul Qoma booming and Beszel flailing, but attempting to lure in new investment. It was, of course, the murder investigation that drove the story, but, although it was well done, I just wanted the chance to live in and explore this world.

Thoughts on the audio production:

John Lee has earned himself a place on my ‘narrators to follow’ mental list with his narration of “The City & The City”. As confusing a plot as Mieville put together, the audio could have easily been a disaster, but Lee narrated confidently and clearly, treating the oddities of Beszel and Ul Qoma as common place. Additionally, I am forever indebted to him for an idea how how to pronounce the names of people and places in “The City & The City.” If I had attempted the print version, I think that I would have spent an inordinate amount of time attempting pronunciations in my head.

Overall:

I love, love, loved the story, and loved the audio. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Audible: Audio (download)
Books on Tape: Audio (cds)
Powells: Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: Print*

This review was done with a book borrowed from the library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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