Deadline by Mira Grant (Book 2 of the Newsflesh Trilogy)
Read by Chris Patton and Nell Geisslinger
Genre: Science Fiction, Zombies
Quick Thoughts: While a decidedly different novel than Feed, Deadline is often tragic, decidedly brilliant, and highly entertaining. Narrators Chris Patton and Nell Geissling are perfect in bringing Mira Grant’s world to life.
I started reading Post Apocalyptic novels in Junior High School. Most of my early readings were young adult novels like Z for Zachariah by Robert O’Brien. Then of course, I grew up a bit and began reading the great plague novels like The Stand or Earth Abides, or the post nuclear epics like Warday or Swan Song. Yet, I never really found these scary. I always was fascinated by the last man on earth concept. The chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. Yet, it wasn’t until I read John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids that I was really scared. Because the object of the apocalypse, in this case carnivorous mobile plants, were a day to day menace, not just a one and done phenomena. Society didn’t just need to adapt to the social upheaval of the apocalypse, but also needed to build their new society around the continuing menace. Zombies have this same impact of me. The undead aren’t just going to go away, and society can either totally collapse, or find a way to live with them. Most zombie novels center around the first option, a total, unrecoverable societal collapse. Yet a few novels have shown us a society that finds a way to live with the menace, whether for good or ill. The best of these novels, at least to me, has been the Newsflesh novels by Mira Grant, the most recent being Deadline. Grants world is a world built on fear. How much would you be willing to give up to protect yourself from the infected, and how will the unscrupulous attempt to benefit from this new culture of fear. These are the questions asked first in Feed, and now in Deadline.
Feed was a brilliant and highly entertaining science fiction zombie tale, but I was a bit skeptical about the sequel. Feed ended in a way were the sequel was forced into being a very different novel. In Deadline, the main POV has changed from Georgia Mason, to her adopted brother Shaun. This change alone was going to be tough to overcome, because Georgia was such a brilliantly conceived and executed character. Add to that that the events of Feed were so transforming that the energy and naiveté of the characters were stripped away. Yet, Grant surprised me by not trying to make Shaun more like the Shaun of Feed, but embracing his devastation, which added miles of depth to his character. He is still the sometimes clueless and often reckless character that we knew in Feed, yet his losses made him much more wary and decidedly more human. In Deadline, Shaun is forced again to face the conspiracy within the CDC that cost him so much in Feed. This conspiracy is quite complex. For much of Deadline Shaun isn’t chasing the conspirators, but the science, trying to discover the hidden secrets of the Kellis-Amberlee virus, and the true purposes of those who are supposed to be finding a solution for it. Deadline is not as an engaging novel as Feed, mostly because the lack of a human element in the conspiracy, yet this is like saying silver is less valuable than gold. Listeners will miss elements of the first novel, particularly the covering of the Ryman campaign, yet will enjoy getting to know some new characters, and finding out more about some old ones. Add to that a lot of great zombie action and a brilliant ending, and readers will be beating down Ms. Grant’s door demanding the finale of the trilogy.
One area of improvement for Deadline was the audio production. I wasn’t a huge fan of the co-narration style of Feed, yet in Deadline I think it worked perfectly. Chris Patton was excellent handling the majority if the narration load. His voice fit Shaun perfectly, allowing the character’s instability to shine through. Patton is excellent at shifting tones, creating the right mood at the right times in the novel. He brought an eerie, airy quality to the long desolate road trip the characters took that created the perfect level of creepiness and was a highlight of the audiobook. Patton’s co-narrator, Nell Geisslinger was a surprise to me. Although she didn’t have nearly as much of a role, she made her time count. The majority of her role was narrating the female blog posts. For each character she found the right voice, and perfect cadence, particularly with the small bits of poetry that appeared occasionally. I for one, truly hope that this same narrating team will be used when the final edition of this trilogy, Blackout, is produced,
This novel will be released June 1, 2011