Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Blackout by Mira Grant
It concerns a zombie apocalypse set twenty years after the dead came back to life to feast on the living. The world is at an impasse. Large groups of humans have survived but they rarely travel far and security measures to prevent further infection from spreading are a constant part of everyday life. Some parts of the world are no-go areas having been completely overrun by hordes of zombies.
In this world, most of the news come from bloggers, who dare to step outside and discover what is going on in the world. They have taken over from the traditional news networks. In Feed, a small group of bloggers led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, brother and sister, were invited to report on the campaign trail of presidential candidate, Peter Ryman. Georgia was the Newsie of the group. Bloggers are given different categories depending upon their field of expertise. A Newsie, is, as its name suggests a news gatherer, and generally the brains of the group. Shaun is an Irwin, the action man of the group, who goes out of the way to get the most dramatic footage of any story being covered. Things went very badly for the team in Feed, when they discovered a huge conspiracy, which resulted in the deaths of some major characters in the book, including one which shocked the hell out of me!
Deadline saw the depleted team of bloggers going to ground and Shaun taking over the leadership of the team. When a CDC (Centre for Disease Control) scientist came to them seeking help, they learnt a lot more about the conspiracy and just how corrupt the CDC were, despite their good guy facade that the general public believed in. If Feed was a politcal thriller with zombies, then Deadline was a scientific thriller with zombies. Blackout is a mix of both.
Blackout starts with the return of Georgia. God, how I missed her in book two! She is being held captive by the CDC, who have a very specific task for her to perform. The way that Georgia works out that she is a clone and where exactly she's being held, despite being given virtually no news of life outside the CDC facility, is fascinating and shows just how badly the CDC underestimate her. She is like a reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, able to make sense of the smallest of clues. If you're at all like me, the event you'll be most anticipating is Georgia and Shaun being reunited. They are, but you have to wait until half way through the novel before it happens. What happens afterwards is just a rollercoaster of a ride as the team decide to tell the public the truth and to blow the cover ups and conspiracy wide open. Help comes from a most unexpected source, but inevitably, there is a price to pay.
Although this trilogy is set in a world plagued by millions of zombies, the undead take a back seat for the most part. Sure they are always there, lurking in the background, ready to leap out when you least expect it. But this is a story about the small but brave team of bloggers and their friends. It is a story of relationships and above all about characters that you care about very deeply. Trust me on that last point. Whenever a major character dies, and too many do, you feel for their loss. It's a sign of good story writing to create characters that you care passionately about.
I gave Feed a very rare 10 out of 10 rating. It was just so good. I gave Deadline a 9 out of 10 rating. It was an excellent novel but I now realise why I didn't like it as much as the original - I missed Georgia too much. Shaun held the team together well, but he lacked the intelligence and wisdom of Georgia. Blackout sees the return of Georgia, even if she's not the real deal, and is all the better for having her back. And if you think I'm revealing too much by telling you that Georgia is a clone, you'll learn that from page one of the book. So it's not much of a spoiler. Georgia Mason has become one of my all-time favourite characters in literature, not just zombie literature. Blackout perfectly wraps up the trilogy and I have no hesitation in awarding it a 10 out of 10 rating. The more I read of the novel, the harder it became to put it down and I ended up reading the last 150 pages in one sitting. That, my friends, is the sign of a damned good book!