Blackout by Mira Grant
Please note Blackout is the final book of the Newflesh trilogy and there is good chance that there will be potential spoilers in this review if you haven’t read books one and two, don’t say I didn’t warn you. With that said lets unleash the undead one more time…
Rise up while you can. – Georgia Mason
The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.
The year was 2039. The world didn’t end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.
Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this:
Things can always get worse.
It seems that 2012 is turning out to be the year of threequels here at The Eloquent Page. So far I’ve read the third book in series by Steve Alten, Mark Chadbourn and Mike Shevdon. Now we get to add Mira Grant to that list with the final novel in the Newflesh series.
The standout character in Blackout, and probably the series as a whole if I think about it, is Shaun Mason. By book three, he has reached the stage where his grasp of sanity is teetering on the brink. The events recounted in Feed and Deadline have just about managed to push him over the edge. I do like when an author is willing to put a character through the emotional wringer. Each time you think Shaun is going to get some small respite, something else terrible happens and he has to deal with the consequences. His instability makes him a particularly interesting read as you have no idea what he is going to do next. He is truly capable of anything, rational argument one moment and then threatening to shot someone in the face the next.
I’ve heard the criticism from others that the politics and blogging references in this series are a trifle unrealistic. Now I’ll admit that my knowledge of the American political system is limited to watching The West Wing, but the entire trilogy certainly seemed to be pitched at about the right level for me, so any inaccuracies are unimportant. I enjoy nothing better than a shadowy government conspiracy, and Grant keeps things ticking over nicely in that regard. The intrigue that runs through the entire series, and the political elements mixed together lifted the plot above the norm.
One thing I would have liked a bit more of is the zombies themselves. When I reviewed the second novel, Deadline, I did mention that the undead were a bit thin on the ground. In fairness, I should point out that the direction of the story made that a sensible decision at the time. For the final book, I think I expected the focus to move back towards the zombies. Don’t get me wrong, overall I think that Blackout succeeds in bringing the story of Georgia and Shaun Mason to suitably satisfying conclusion. There just weren’t enough zombies to warrant the ‘horror’ label. I’m pretty bloodthirsty when it comes to horror, and I like my zombie novels to have as grim an outlook as possible. I’ve watched these characters develop over the course of the three books and I’ve grown to like some of them, and hope for a nasty death for others. I think I just wanted a bit more peril, perhaps a few more character deaths? I don’t know, I guess I’m just evil.
As a final aside, I’ve made the decision to stop reading zombie books for the foreseeable future. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I think it would be difficult to top the Newsflesh trilogy, though not everyone’s cup of tea I’ve enjoyed it a great deal from beginning to end. Secondly, there has been such a huge glut of zombie novels out there at the moment, and I’ve read so many of them, I need to take a break from them for a while. I really like a good zombie story but I think I am in danger of falling out of love with the undead, can’t have that. With that in mind, I’ll be packing away my favourite undead shufflers for a bit. We need a bit of a rest from one another. I’m pleased that I ended on a high though.
Blackout is published by Orbit and is available now.