Full disclosure. I loved Mira Grant‘s novel, FEED (EBR Review). I didn’t think I would because I was a tad tired of zombies, but FEED was still awesome… especially the ending which was absolutely incredible. Sure there were some things that made me say “meh”, but I personally thought the characters were fun (specifically in the latter half of the novel when the story got really grim and bleak), and the setting was fantastic. Not to mention, Mira Grant’s writing appealed to me with its accessibility and her sense of pacing. If was my personal pick for the Hugo this year. I bought copies of her books and lugged them to WorldCon so I could stalk Mira down for signatures. Yeah, I’m a fan.
After I read FEED, I knew immediately that’s I’d gobble up the next book in the series, DEADLINE (Amazon). But I was worried. WAAAAAAAY worried. If you’ve read FEED, you know how the book ends. How the heck to you follow THAT?
DEADLINE is told from Shaun Mason’s eyes, and the change in tone is really what helps set this apart from the prior novel. Shaun is an angry, angry guy. As the reader, you get to see his grief and complete lack of faith in anything. For the most part this is all executed extremely well. However, during the novel he has a penchant for wanting to punch anything and everything. It gets old, and feels unneeded.
Luckily neither Shaun nor the reader is given much time to dwell on the tragic ending of FEED. Things happen fast and furious to start out. Again, Mira Grant perfectly illustrates that in a world of zombies, the humans are still the biggest danger to humanity.
You may be asking yourself, “Self, why hasn’t the reviewer talked about what the book is about?” You see, FEED is still relatively new, and the ending is one of those endings that MUST NOT be ruined. If I talk about DEADLINE with very much detail at all, it will hurt your reading of FEED. Here’s what I can give you. Shaun and the crew are investigating a conspiracy that was introduced in the first book. The conspiracy is even bigger than anyone realizes, and Grant does a great job of illustrating the danger our protagonists (not to mention the world) face.
One thing I’ve noticed about zombie novels in general is how much it bugs me when the world introduced in the novel isn’t self-aware. What I mean is that our culture has been exposed to zombie-related media for so long now, that we will have a grasp of the situation when the zombie plague runs wild (note: when, not if). Mira Grant’s novels address this so well, that it makes reading other zombie novels that don’t take it into account feel unrealistic. This world feels legitimate.
There is one thing that I should mention that did kinda nag at me a bit. Middle novels are hard, and not only is the author trying to set up the third novel in the series, but he/she is also trying to refresh the reader on the events from book one. DEADLINE suffers the effects of this in certain areas. There are certain bits of information that just don’t need to be fully explained again. The pacing can get bogged down a bit due to the over-explanation (or repeated explanation) of details that the author feels essential the reader understand completely. This isn’t a huge deal for the most part, but it bothered me enough to notice and to bring up.
Do you want to read a zombie novel that pulls in Science Fiction sensibilities without losing the Horror aspect of the sub-genre? Read DEADLINE.
That said, this book has some moments that are just freaking awesome. And I don’t just mean action scenes, though the book does have plenty of those as well that had me giggling with horrific glee. DEADLINE has some terrific character scenes that show just how crazy things are getting for people.
Now, depending on how observant a reader you are, you may catch one of the major twists (there are a few). I caught it very early on in the novel, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel (at least I don’t think it did… it’s not like I can test it). If you don’t catch the twist, the ending is a serious “HOLY CRAP!” moment. Like FEED, it was the ending to DEADLINE that won me over on loving the novel.
Here is the question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to read a zombie novel that pulls in Science Fiction sensibilities without losing the Horror aspect of the sub-genre? Do you want a zombie series that shows just how much more horrible humans can be as opposed to the zombies? How about a series with good characters? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you need to pick up FEED and DEADLINE by Mira Grant. If you answered “no”, too bad, read the books anyway. They are completely awesome.
- Recommended Age: 17+
- Language: Lotsa swearing
- Violence: If there WASN'T violence in DEADLINE, it really wouldn't be a conspiracy-filled, zombie novel would it? Of course there is a ton of violence.
- Sex: One short, but fairly detailed scene. It's mostly used to show how much psychological and emotional baggage a character has.
Go check out Mira Grant’s website:
And in case you didn’t know, Mira Grant is a pen name Seanan McGuire uses. Seanan is best known for winning the 2010 Campbell Award for best new writer. She writes Urban Fantasy under that name which I hope is as good as her zombie books.
Last note: Seanan is an awesome person. I was able to chat with her for a bit at WorldCon in Reno, and she is one of the nicest people even… when she’s not planning to kill you. As an author, being nice is a good thing. It impacts what people think of you and your work. Seanan’s personality made me like her work even more.