Audiobook Review: Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant

25 10 2011

Countdown by Mira Grant (A Newsflesh Novella)

Read by Brian Bascle

Hachette Audio

Length: 2Hrs 15 Mins

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse/ Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Countdown is Mira Grant’s gift to the fans of The Newsflesh World, a prequel that isn’t wooden of forced, but gives us a new perspective to look at the world she created.

Grade: A-

2011 was one of the best years ever for Zombie fiction on audiobook. In 2011 I have listened to 24 Zombie novels, a significant upgrade over 2010, where I listened to 6. The first zombie novel I listened to this year, back in January was Mira Grant’s zombie/political conspiracy thriller, Feed. Since reading Feed I have become an utter Mira Grant fanboy and evangelist, constantly recommending her Newsflesh series to everyone from hardcore zombie fans to those tentative about the genre. The Newsflesh Series has some of the most fascinating zombie apocalypse world building I have ever experienced, full of great characters, and intriguing concepts. So, of course, discovering that Mira Grant has a new novella available for download on Audible, that this novella was a part of the Newsflesh world, and it was on sale, well, after the paramedics revived me, I ran right to my computer and downloaded it.

Countdown is the story of the events leading up to The Rising, and acts as a prequel to the series. It tracks the scientists working on cures for cancer and the common cold, and the events that lead to these two seemingly wonder cures being released into the world, merging and becoming the Kellis-Amberlee virus, which upon full amplification, revives the dead into zombies. Countdown is full of characters only briefly mentioned in Feed and Deadline, and fills in much of the back story that sets the stage for these novels. You also see a few peripheral characters from the series, and get a glimpse of what they were like before the tragic day that changed the world forever. Yet, none of these characters are the true stars of this tale. The true star is the science of the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Unlike much hard science fiction that presents the science as hard theorem and datum, Mira Grant does what she does best by presenting the science in a beautiful, almost poetic way that allows the reader to do more than simply understand, but to experience it. Grant turns the actual viruses into characters, allowing us to see the transformation from helpful to world destructive in a vivid fashion. Yet, despite being a cautionary tale, Grant never demonizes the science or those involved in the development of the viruses. Instead she just allows us to see them for who they are and what they were hoping to accomplish. Countdown is Mora Grant’s gift to the fans of The Newsflesh World, a prequel that isn’t wooden of forced, but gives us a new perspective to look at the world she created.

This was my first experience listening to Brian Bascle and thought he did a good job. For the most part, he just allowed me to enter into the story and stay there, presenting Grant’s words as they lead me where I needed to go. He has a nice narrative voice, and handled most of the characterizations well. The only characters he struggled with were adolescent girls, which is not strange for male narrators. My only real complaint about the audio production was that the transitions were presented with no real pause letting us know we were moving to another point of view. This would pull me out of the story a bit, when I realized we had switched characters or story arcs.  This small complaint wasn’t enough to really detract from a wonderful listening experience.

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6 responses

25 10 2011
Oddiophile (@Oddiophile)

I’ve had Feed in my “listen to” queue for quite a while because I really like Mira Grant’s UF writing under her (actual?) name of Seanan McGuire. Would you suggest listening to Countdown first or just starting with Feed and circling back around to Countdown as a bonus if/when I finish Feed/Deadline?

25 10 2011
theguildedearlobe

Definitely read Feed and Deadline first. I think that you gain more appreciation of Countdown that way. Otherwise, some of the characters will have less flavor.

27 10 2011
Rachel

This sounds great – I’m looking forward to reading it. I can’t believe we have to wait til June for the last book to come out!

27 10 2011
Michelle

I definitely need this. I’m dying for Book 3. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

28 10 2011
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Why didn’t I know about this? I NEED it ASAP.

25 05 2012
My Top 10 Zombie Novels and Series « The Guilded Earlobe

[…] Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella […]

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