I would like to thank everyone who was disappointed that this was not really a zombie story. I was not going to buy it until I read the reviews. Your..Show More » disappointment gave me the encouragement I needed to take a chance on it. It was a great listen. I love the author's October Daye stories and this was just as good. She is a hard hitting story teller, and the idealism is a nice change not usually found in a distopian worlds. I don't want to provide any spoilers, but I will say none of my predictions for the conclusion was correct.
As for the reader's slight lisp, it helped make the characters more real for me.
I look forward to the next book, though I know I will have to steel myself to listen to it because of the emotional intensity.
Mira Grant Makes involves you with her characters. She has a talent for making you interested in them from the moment they are introduced. With this s..Show More »econd book in the series she does an amazing job of continueing this and leaves you salavating for the next book. If you have not listened to, or read the first book do so before downloading this one so you can enjoy the full experience of the worls she creates. You will not be dissapointed
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 canc..Show More »er 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 Mira Grant’s gift to the fans of The Newsflesh World, a prequel that isn’t wooden or 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.
Okay, I actually saw that coming, but I'm still kinda surprised she actually went there.
So, if you have ..Show More »read the first two books in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, you know that Georgia Mason died at the end of book one, and was brought back to life (as a clone) at the end of book two.
I'm not a big fan of "cheats" like this. Throughout the second book, Grant coped with having killed off one of her main characters in the first book by making Shaun "crazy," so Georgia becomes a permanent presence in his head, thus allowing the living main character to have conversations with his dead sister.
This continues in book three, even past the point where Shaun finally finds out about the cloned Georgia. I was expecting there to be some additional sort of "twist" to explain how the Georgia in Shaun's head could be telling him things Shaun didn't himself actually know. But nope, it was just crazy.
The Newsflesh trilogy, supposedly a zombie post-apocalypse series, aspires to be a political allegory as well. The "real" story is that in the wake of the unleashing of the Kellis-Amberlee virus, which causes the newly-dead to rise up again as viral-animated cannibalistic infection vectors, American society has responded to this terrifying change in the status quo by accepting a "new normal" that includes blood tests at every door, elevator, and vehicle, shoot-to-kill orders, safety protocols that make walking out in the open or doing pretty much anything but huddling within fortified enclaves unthinkable, and of course, listening to a government-coopted news media lie about everything.
Sound like Mira Grant might have an agenda here?
The point is pressed home hard in the concluding volume, in which Shaun and George and their surviving newsies find themselves on the run, working with mad scientists and crazy hackers with crazier gun moll sidekicks, swearing to unleash vengeance and The Truth. And they also kill a zombie bear. A ZOMBIE GRIZZLY BEAR!
Like the first two books, it's fast-paced adventure from start to finish. Whenever things start to get slow, you can bet something is about to get blown up or another horde of zombies will come moaning around the corner.
The Center for Disease Control, already revealed to be a little shady in the previous book, turn out to be an Evil Government Conspiracy that is literally holding the President hostage. And there are some new revelations about the Kellis-Amberlee virus, and of course, there is the whole cloning bit, where they managed to clone Georgia and perform a memory transfer from dead Georgia's brain, so that the clone is kinda sorta the real Georgia, at least real enough to convince Shaun.
Which is where things get really creepy, because you know how I commented in my review of the last book that these two are... disturbingly close, and it's kind of weird that neither of them seemed to have an actual love interest?
Yeah, the author went there.
I cannot say I was shocked or surprised, but between Shaun being a constant jerk even before Georgia died, and an even worse jerk after, and then when clone Georgia comes back, he is, as Becks points out so succinctly, "an incestuous necrophiliac"... this was sure a creepy twist to throw in the finale.
Mira Grant's writing is clever and full of banter, but sometimes the forced "punchiness" of it (like we are constantly being reminded how Irwins, in the face of imminent death, cope by making wisecracks) became wearying.
I also hesitated to label this series "YA" before, but there were too many points in Blackout where I felt talked down to by the author spelling things out through unnecessary dialog. For example, upon being told that they will not be allowed to continue without passing a checkpoint, Shaun asks: "And if we don't pass the checkpoint tests?"
Gee, what do you think? Three entire books have been spent hammering the point home. This is not even a question anybody living in this world would ask. Everyone knows what the "safety protocols" are in the post-Rising world.
Grant also gets a bit heavy-handed with some of the emails and blog entries that begin each chapter. Like: "Shaun is alive. Repeat, Shaun is alive!" Repeated in an email. Now, think about it. If you are telling somebody something really important in an email, you might underline it or use boldface or something, and you might say "Repeat: blah blah blah" once for dramatic emphasis. But you probably don't repeat it at the start and end like you are sending it out via radio broadcast on an uncertain transmission.
I know, small details. But they annoyed me.
For all that, I enjoyed the story and this was a pretty solid conclusion to the trilogy. Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire is not about to become my favorite author: this series was pretty much brain candy. But it's tasty brain candy, even if you aren't normally into zombie novels. I am docking book three a bit for the juvenile flourishes, so 3.5 stars, rounded to 4 because I liked the series as a whole.
One of the largest questions I had during the course of Feed (the original) was what was going on on the Democratic side of the fence. In that book, ..Show More »you would have thought the entire election process was a single-party race. Feedback exists to answer that question, filling in the gaps not only on the Democratic side, but offering a view into lesser- or under-used characters from the Republican party as well. And sometimes, that's the book's greatest downfall.
As someone who's read the original trilogy obsessively, I both appreciated and was annoyed by the symmetry to the original book--the attacks on the campaign that often followed similar ideas and themes, and were timed to nearly coincide with one another. While Grant did her best to lampshade the "reasons" no one heard of these events in Feed, the rationales used are flimsy at best, dropping any suspension of disbelief right on the floor.
The book only really picked itself up to a four-star rating about mid-way through, when (mild spoilers, sorry! It's only this sentence) the cast took a hard left turn away from the politics and started making their own way into the world.
That being said, Grant completely avoided one trap that often catches authors as they expand a 'verse: new characters hero-worshiping the original cast. Instead, the new cast offer some much-needed change in perspective for the Newsflesh world.
Part of me doesn't even want to mention this next bit, but as I've seen other reviews already expressing annoyance about it, my two cents is thus: While I never would have accused Grant of being close-minded, I'd always been a little bothered by the lack of outright LGBTQIA representation in the main series (barring a nod to Maggie and Buffy) and her general lack of a lesbian/bi/other female lead in any of her works, including the McGuire titles. The delicious, and realistic, diversity of Feedback's cast is like a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways and I hope she continues to expand her horizons and the voices of her main characters.
And I have to admit, some of the featured zombie-laden traps are absolutely inspired.
As to the narration of the audio-version, however...Georgia Dolenz's lead as Ash is spot-on perfect. Every other character, however, ranged from lacking to completely indistinguishable from everyone else. And though Dolenz hits a certain stride about mid-way through the book, the beginning of the book is filled with stumbles and emotionless deliveries of side-characters lines. More often than not, this made listening to the book a chore, rather than a treat. I lost track of how many times I needed to back track a minute or more just to figure out what was going on.
That being said, it certainly wasn't the worst narration I've heard, and I can't let that detract too much from an otherwise enjoyable book. I do hope that, if there's a follow-up book with this cast (and I suspect there will be), Grant takes strides to let the cast have their own story, rather than riding on the Mason's coat tails.