Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Blackout by Mira Grant

I mentioned in my last post that I was keen to read Siege and Blackout this year, both being part three of trilogies by Rhiannon Frater and Mira Grant respectively. Of the two, Blackout was the one I was most looking forward to reading. Ever since I read Feed and Deadline, the first two novels in Mira's Newsflesh trilogy I've been desperate to know how the story will end. If you are not aware of this trilogy, shame on you.
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!

24 comments:

  1. With such high ratings, I'll have to look into some of these books. I have a bit on my reading plate at the moment, but they're in the queue. Thanks for the good review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you read them back to back (highly recommended) you won't have to suffer the intolerable wait I hadbefore the next one was published!

      Delete
  2. Excellent review, Bryan. It looks like I have two excellent Zombie series to read. I really appreciate your reviews of these books. Thanks for posting them. On an unrelated note, when will we get to see your Cottage build?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I've just read two outstanding zombie novels with "Siege" and "Blackout," Joe. It's been a great month for reading zombie novels.

      The cottage is being furnished as we speak. I'm having to add quite a few items that were missing from those included with the set, e.g. kitchen sink, washing machine, TV set, dining room table, chairs, cupboards, wardrobes, etc. Still, I have them all covered with other sets. I'm hoping to finish it by this weekend. You might get to see it in my upcoming ATZ Assault on Precinct 13 scenario before I do a proper review of it.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, that's great news. I'll be looking forward to it.

      Delete
  3. Great review Bryan, I thoroughly endorse everything you've said (9although you may have given a bit too much away) as I too have just finished this trilogy.
    A further thing that might be said of the series is that the zombies generally provida background to a very good story and are not the major be-all..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joe. It's a tough balancing act, knowing how much of a story to reveal. I may have given away a few spoilers to those who haven't read any of the trilogy but surely not many and there is far more that I could have said but have deliberately kept quiet about. Still, it's nice to hear that this was a story we both rated very, very highly.

      Delete
  4. I only read abit of this post as i'm re-reading the first two books at the moment whilst waiting for the third to land at the library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way to do it, Simon. Read all three back to back. Tell your library to hurry up and get volume three in asap!

      Delete
    2. I think its in but theres already 1 reserve on it :D Reading Starship Troopers at the moment for the first time. But I collected Feed and Deadline yesterday. Its always good to refresh the memory.

      Delete
  5. Just started Assassins Code and these are next for me!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the heads up, this will not be the first set of books I buy on your word, have not been disappointed yet, keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan, you have no idea how chuffed I was to read your comment. Glad to be of assistance.

      Delete
  7. Nice review Bryan...as always, I'm listening to Sword of Shannara at the moment, maybe I'll get around to these.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do get round to reading (listening to?) them, TE. This series has garnered a lot of positive reviews.

      Delete
  8. My email isn't working otherwise I'd shoot you one, but have you seen Dead State (new tactical 3d PC rpg from some of the guys who did Fallout 1&2 / Vampire the Masquerade)? They're doing a kickstarter currently as well - thought you might be interested.

    been a lurker of your blog for years.

    Keep it up :-)

    ~El

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, and welcome, Elussya. Thanks for the heads up. It may be of interest to others but not to me, as I don't play any computer games or console games. I just don't have the time to devote to them.

      Delete
  9. I thought you might be interested in an interview with Seanan McGuire, who you might know as Mira Grant....

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/06/geeks-guide-seanan-mcguire/

    It's not all about zombies, was still a pretty good read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Varangian, thank you SO much for that link. I think I am in love with Seanan/Mira!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, she's awesome!

      I might very well get to meet her next year, and I'm already excited.

      Delete
    3. Oh, you lucky man!

      Say, I'm thinking because you added your initial comment so late after I'd posted this review that a lot of people will miss what you said. So, I plan on adding your link about Mira when I do my Monthly Musings post this weekend. It'd be such a shame for my followers to miss out on the opportunity to learn more about Mira.

      Delete
    4. Awesome! I always look forward to your musings (we finished another month!?? already??), and this will be a fun thing for people to get connected to.

      She'll be at JordanCon 2013, which will host Deep South Con. For anyone in the US South in April of 2013 might want to look into it.

      http://www.jordancon.org/content/guests-honor-announced

      I might just have to get enough stuff together to run an ATZ game or two at the convention. I have an idea for the style that should make it.....interesting!

      Delete
    5. Thanks, Varangian. I'll add your Jordancon link to my Monthly Musings as well. I wouldn't want any of my American followers to miss out.

      Incredibly, yes, another month has almost gone by. How time flies, huh?

      Your idea for your ATZ convention game(s) sounds intriguing. I hope you do full report with photos. I'd love to see what you get up to.

      Delete