Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh Trilogy, Bk. 3)
Read by Paula Christensen and Michael Goldstrom
Length: 17 Hrs 8 Min
Genre: Science Fiction Zombie Thriller
Quick Thoughts: Blackout is full of adventure, betrayal, true love, sacrifice, conspiracies revealed, surprise enemies and allies, fascinating science and of course, zombies. It has everything you want in a series finale, leaving you both utterly fulfilled, and desperately wanting more. Blackout is hands down my favorite Audiobook of 2012, and if it doesn’t top my list at year end, then some miracle of audiobook greatness must have taken place to knock it off its perch.
Blackout will be available in Print and Digital format on May, 22, 2012, and in digital audio format on June 1, 2012.
Note: If you have not read the first two novels of this series, do not read this review. While it contains no spoilers for Blackout, there are definite spoilers for Feed and Deadline. Also, why the hell haven’t you read/listened to Feed and Deadline yet. Stop reading reviews, and grab those books now.
It’ all started with some moron poking a zombie with a stick. Personally, I couldn’t believe it. Here I am, this guy who reads and listens to tons of Zombie fiction, and watches more Zombie movies than is legally considered healthy, and I’m listening to a book which starts with some moron poking a zombie with a stick, followed by some Dukes of Hazardesque chase seen with a motorcycle instead of the General Lee and Zombies playing the role of Roscoe P. Coltrane. You see, when I started Feed, I had no idea who this twisted soul known as Mira Grant, or her Fantasy writing alter ego Seanan McGuire was. I had no idea how much she loved these twisted B-Horror type scenarios that should totally come off as ubercheese. Most importantly, I had no idea, as I followed this moron Shaun Mason, and his sister Georgia, that I would fall in love with them, and this strange, hauntingly plausible world they lived in. I had discovered Feed, late one night, while searching the Overdrive Library system. It was the blood splattered cover and tagline, “Good News: We Survived. Bad News: So Did They.” that caught my attention. I was mildly pleased with my discovery. While I had read quite a few Zombies novels, I had yet to read one written by a women and I was looking forward to experiencing something maybe just a bit different. It is a decision I’m glad that I made. It’s now been almost 5 days since I finished listening to the finale of The Newsflesh, and I really needed that time to let it settle in. If I had written my review right after I completed listening to the audiobook, the review would have been an utter geekgasm, full of heart signs, XOXO’s and pictures of Lotsa Heart Elephant and the rest of my favorite Care Bear Cousins. Five Days later, and my appreciation and love of the trilogy hasn’t waned, but I have stepped away enough to be able to get my fanboyishness down to a more acceptable level. Although, fair warning, if I ever do meet Mira Grant in real life, I cannot promise that I won’t squeal, run over and give her a hug that both of us would find a bit awkward after the fact. I am not known for impulse control.
So, I guess I should talk about Blackout. If Feed is a Political Thriller with Zombies and Deadline is a Science Thriller with Zombies, than Blackout is their brilliant love child. Grant is able to take the best aspects of both novels, and blend them together is a way that exceeded even my high expectations and produced the rare series finale that delivers more than just the goods. The ending reveal of Deadline, was such an utterly brilliant, game changing, world shaping moment that I loved and feared it. Sometimes the worst thing a writer can do is give the readers what they want, and what any reader of Feed wanted was more Georgia Mason. Georgia Mason is a character that you can’t help but want to be like in all her complicated forms. Yet, I was worried about what Grant would have to do to fit her comfortably back into this world. I really shouldn’t have spent the year worrying about this. Georgia’s return fit seamlessly into the narrative, adding such a wonderful new slant to the overall tale. Yet, with my insatiable crush on Georgia, and desire to hang with the After the End Times crew, the true star of Blackout and the Newsflesh trilogy is the world Grant has created. Grant’s world is a realistic depiction of a society attempting to retain normalcy in what typically would be viewed as an apocalypse. In an America irrevocably altered by Kellis-Amberlee, the dead walk, spies have PhD’s, government agencies use fear to maintain control over the populous, and mad science may save humankind, but destroy the world in the process. Grant pieces it all together like a complicated puzzle that you have no idea what the final picture is, but when it is finally revealed, it knocks the breath out of you. Blackout is full of adventure, betrayal, true love, sacrifice, conspiracies revealed, surprise enemies and allies, fascinating science and of course, zombies. It has everything you want in a series finale, leaving you both utterly fulfilled, and desperately wanting more. If any part of you thinks I am overdoing my praise of Blackout, this, my friends, is restrained fanboyishness.
Typically, fans of series want consistency in audiobook casting, yet with the unique challenges of The Newsflesh series shifting perspectives, this was tough. Fans of Feed will be happy to know that Paula Christensen has returned to handle Georgia’s perspective. I had some small quibbling complaints with Christensen’s performance in Feed, yet in Blackout Christensen’s performance is flawless and beautiful. She totally encompasses the role of Georgia. Christensen has a unique, yet lush voice that highlights Georgia’s maturity, while still staying true to her youth. Yet, the biggest surprise for me in the audiobook was Michael Goldstrom’s performance. Goldstrom takes over for Chris Patton who read the Shaun Mason perspective in Deadline, yet there isn’t that discontinuity that often occurs when there is a narrator change. Goldstrom, like Christensen, becomes Shaun Mason. He is totally believable in this role. Yet, the highlight of the audiobook was Goldstrom’s performance of the peripheral characters, particularly Mahir. He delivers Mahir exactly as I imagined him, and fills him with heart, transforming him, along with Grant, into perhaps my favorite character of the series. Both narrators work together well. These is a bit of disconnect when the perspectives finally merge, and you have multiple narrators handling individual characters but you quickly adjust to this necessity, which isn’t nearly as jarring as I have experienced in other productions. Overall, every aspect of this production was done just right, the sound crisp, the narrators spot on, and the pacing perfect. Blackout is hands down my favorite Audiobook of 2012, and if it doesn’t top my list at year end, then some miracle of audiobook greatness must have taken place to knock it off its perch.
Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for proving me with a copy of this title for review.