Deadline, by Mira Grant
I picked up a copy of Deadline [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] last fall. It’s one of my favorite autographed books, inscribed to Jim “Bite me” Hines, which puts it right up there with the one John Scalzi signed to me as his thong buddy. Deadline is on the Hugo ballot for Best Novel, so this seems like the perfect time to talk about the book.
This is book two in Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy. (I talked about book one here.) And there’s no way to talk about it without major spoilers for book one, so it’s cut tag time.
Book one was told from the point of view of Georgia Mason, a young blogger/reporter following the presidential campaign … up until a conspiracy resulted in her being infected with live Kellis-Amberlee virus, at which point her brother Shaun shot her in the back of the head to prevent her from rising as a zombie.
Book two is from Shaun’s perspective, and he is broken. Not damaged. Not grieving. Broken. He converses with his dead sister every day, and George talks right back. He’s now in charge of their news organization, but he’s mostly given up on the daredevil antics of his old Irwin days. He fully expects to die–at times he seems to look forward to it–but first he’s going to find whoever was behind the conspiracy that led to George’s murder, and then he’s going to kill them a lot. When a doctor from the CDC arrives on his doorstep after faking her death, Shaun and his team set out to find the truth.
This is very much the middle book of a trilogy. You don’t have the Shiny Newness of exploring a new world like you do in book one, and you don’t get the closure and resolution I’m looking forward to in book three. There are revelations, there are twists, and there are lots and lots of zombies. The stakes get significantly higher, with plenty of “Oh, shit!” moments both for the individual characters and for the whole messed-up world.
One revelation I particularly appreciated was the reason the villain from book one felt rather over-the-top by the end. That bugged me in book one, but makes a bit more sense now.
What made this book for me was the character of Shaun, a very different kind of walking dead man. He’s fully aware of how damaged he is. He takes stupid risks, lashes out at his team, talks to and occasionally even sees his dead sister. I spent much of the book wondering if he could ever come back from this, or if the trilogy is going to end with Shaun’s death. At the same time, his obsession and his damage make him the perfect person to search for the truth, as any sane person would probably have run like hell the first time the bad guys firebombed an entire town to try to protect their secrets…
I talked to my wife (a licensed counselor) about Shaun’s reactions, and she said the kind of conversations he’s having with his dead sister would be unusual, but certainly not unheard of. So kudos to Grant for getting the psych piece right.
I only had a few nitpicks about the book. For my taste, there were a few too many scenes where Shaun was talking to George and making others uncomfortable because “Shaun’s crazy.” And while I know perfectly well this is the middle book, I like closure, dammit! But I also recognize that’s not what this book is.
If you read and enjoyed Feed, then I’d definitely recommend Deadline too. And if you do, you should probably go ahead and preorder Blackout as well…
Discussion welcome, as always! I can’t say whether or not I’ll vote for this one for the Hugo, because I haven’t read the others yet, but I’d love to hear what people think.
April 9, 2012 @ 10:45 am
“but first he’s going to find whoever was behind the conspiracy that led to Shaun’s murder”
That should be “Georgia’s murder,” not “Shaun’s”
I enjoyed Deadline a lot, for completely different reasons from Feed. The tone is very different, the energy is different. But as the feel of Feed compliments Georgia’s personality, the feel of Deadline compliments Shaun’s. I think that is what ultimately makes the books work for me.
The set up for the revelation at the end was well done in my opinion. It wasn’t unexpected, but neither did it feel predictable. When it came, I thought, “Oh, right! That makes sense.” Which made me feel smart as a reader, and kudos to Seanan for that.
April 9, 2012 @ 11:20 am
I love the idea of these books, and I like the science behind how the disease works. My only real complaint about this book is that the pacing in the last section really slows down. Feed moved along pretty well for most of the book but then really picked up at the end. Deadline did the opposite, kept a really fast pace for the first 3/4 of the book and then screeched to a halt towards the end.
That said, it’s a minor complaint because Deadline was a very well written book and I’m looking forward to finishing the series.
Jim C. Hines
April 9, 2012 @ 11:54 am
Fixed now, thank you.
Jim C. Hines
April 9, 2012 @ 12:06 pm
I suspect some of that might be the middle-book thing. If this were a fully standalone work, you’d expect an ending and closure and such. In this case, we’re getting more of a transition into book three.
April 9, 2012 @ 1:55 pm
I also really enjoyed this book for the change of narrator and perspective. The thing that bugged me most was the epilogue. I feel like it was too much of a spoiler for book 3. Now I feel like I already now how Shaun will be “fixed.” 🙁
April 9, 2012 @ 3:12 pm
I read Feed, and have not read Deadline. Was not really planning to read Deadline. I have read other books by Seanan McGuire / Mira Grant.
… I should start by saying, I have nothing but the highest respect for Seanan. She made it, by dint of hard work and dedication and persistance. She is a successful writer and, from all accounts, a really nice person.
And I keep wanting to like her books, and not managing to do so. In a nutshell, I keep running across the issue that I don’t know why the characters did what they did, other than that the plot required it of them. The motivations for the actions they take do not, to me, seem to come from within the people. The characters (in Feed, and in other books I have read), seem … not quite hollow, as my fiance has said, but not really fully realized.
That said, the worlds she create are just plain wonderful. The science and research behind them, the mythologies of them, are stunning. I am in awe of the worlds she makes. I just… do not know why they keep doing what they do. Not just making mistakes. I understand mistakes. But deliberately not acting in a manner that makes sense to me… I just don’t get it.
Maybe that is just me. Bright lady knows I am not a critic, nor an expert.
For me, though, the recommendation of people I respect (such as yourself, Mr. Hines) is just not enough to make me pick up this book, in light of previous experiences.
Jim C. Hines
April 9, 2012 @ 3:18 pm
That part was … yeah, I’m not quite sure what to make of that yet, but I trust the author enough to pick up book three and see where she goes with it.
Jim C. Hines
April 9, 2012 @ 3:19 pm
To clarify, I wouldn’t actually recommend reading this one if you didn’t like the first book.
I wouldn’t sweat it too much. I think most of us have authors we like or respect as people, but just can’t get into their books. (And vice versa, for that matter.) There’s no such thing as a book that works for everyone.
May 1, 2012 @ 6:28 am
can someone tell me who is Daredevil Shaun? I tried to find some answers but none knew.It is a movie, a book or some character?Thanks