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.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR FEED AND DEADLINE
I’ve decided. These books are crack. There’s no other explanation. They’re thick as bricks and contain a ton of exposition, but I raced through each one like there was no tomorrow. It’s almost hard to believe I didn’t like the first book I read by the author because I am so in love with her writing here. It’s smart, snappy, and so much fun to read. Still, with this book I actually had a number of problems with how events unfolded and were conveyed.
There were just as many infodumps in this book as there were in the previous one, but this time it felt more grating for two reasons. The first is that a good number of them cover information already given in Feed, so those particular infodumps felt repetitious. The second reason is that the overall timespan was different. In Feed, the plot extended over the course of many months, which helped alleviate the fact that each individual action teneded to be described in a lot of detail. In Deadline, the story takes place over two, maybe three weeks. The actual sequence of events as they occur is lightning quick, but given the amount of exposition there is, it’s easy in places to forget that that’s actually the case.
I wrote previously about how much I loved the relationship between Shaun and George, and I still stand by that statement. George said in Feed that if Shaun died, she didn’t intend to be an only child for long. As such, it makes perfect sense that Shaun is handling George’s death about as well as she would have. Seven years later, Shaun is living a half-life. Everyone, including Shaun, thinks he’s somewhere in the realm of crazy because he hears George talking to him in his head and he responds to what she says. However, having George with him in his head is the one thing keeping Shaun sane. Furthermore, the fact that George was murdered is the one thing keeping Shaun alive, because the one mission of any importance in his life is to uncover who was responsible for killing his sister and making them pay.
Again, it would be all too easy to say that Shaun’s lost his marbles and how he should never have let his relationship to George get to the point that he can’t live a normal life without her. However, to me, that’s missing the point. People react in all sorts of different ways to loss and trauma, and George speaking to Shaun in his mind is only one of those ways. Furthermore, Shaun and George’s connection to each other is not necessarily “unhealthy”. It only looks that way because of how Shaun is coping. Really, George’s death is the equivalent of ripping out half of Shaun’s soul. Throughout the book, I was so glad the authorial voice never castigated or condemned Shaun for not “getting over” George’s death. He’s able to survive and do his job as he always was – but his life isn’t complete if George isn’t there with him and it never will be. Throughout these books, the author has done a fantastic job writing all sorts of characters living in a world of fear and zombies, trying to survive and make something of their lives as best they can. I am so very glad the author wrote George and Shaun’s relationship in the manner she did and presented it as something legitimate and meaningful instead of unnatural and poisonous.
I really liked the continuity between this book and the previous one in terms of the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Honestly, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the fact that George had a resovoir condition, but I regretted that once it became clear that resovoir conditions are the key to the future of survival in post-Rising society. The epidemiology in this book is so. cool. It also makes such perfect sense that the body would eventually develop adaptations to cope with the Kellis-Amberlee virus. It made me want to smack my forehead and go, “Duh, that’s how immune systems work. Why the hell didn’t I think of that? Why has no one else who’s written about zombie viruses thought of that?” Such is life.
Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t as tight this time around. The majority of the story stems from Kelly bringing information that people with resovoir conditions are dying at a faster rate than should be statistically reasonable, and that the CDC is suppressing information about the truth behind these conditions. So in the final third of the book, Shaun and members of his team break into the CDC in Memphis and get the proof they need. But the final events of the book aren’t related to the CDC or the resovoir conditions. Instead, it’s another Rising brought on the newfound ability of mosquitos to transmit the virus. Which is a horrific catastrophe, but it’s barely related to anything that’s occurred so far. What I’m really annoyed about is that a lot of tension is built up after Shaun and Co. escape from the CDC and race back home and freak out about why the internet has disappeared. All that tension falls flat when it’s revealed that the reason all forms of communication went down is because of the second Rising. Essentially, there’s a huge disconnect.
Also. The epilogue. George is apparently alive, walking, and talking. WHAT? I am almost positive this is the result of cloning. And I really, REALLY don’t know how I feel about that. Given how the author writes, I don’t think this potential retcon is as simple as it seems, but… retconning is extremely difficult to do well. So I’ve decided to give this twist the benefit of the doubt. If it’s handled in a way that makes 100% sense in the next book, I won’t complain. Much.
This trilogy is shaping up for what looks like an epic showdown and Deadline only confirms that. There were some noticeable problems that kept me from enjoying it as much as Feed, but it’s still a good book due to it possessing all the things that made Feed such a wonderful read – excellent world-building, kick-ass characters with a senese of humor, and a feeling of intensity surrounding all that occurs. I cannot wait for Blackout to be released. Why isn’t it June already?
Disclosure – library