While his previous book was a tongue-in-cheek zombie survival guide, Brooks turns deadly serious here. Written as a series of survivors' stories in a...moreWhile his previous book was a tongue-in-cheek zombie survival guide, Brooks turns deadly serious here. Written as a series of survivors' stories in a UN report following a world wide war with the undead, Brooks crafted a classic horror novel that reads like history. Inventive, scary and a must read for anyone who ever enjoyed a George Romero zombie movie.(less)
Lots of good zombie stories, but not all fall into the traditional George Romero type stories. For example, Joe Hill's story is about two high school...moreLots of good zombie stories, but not all fall into the traditional George Romero type stories. For example, Joe Hill's story is about two high school sweethearts who reunite while playing extras in Romero's filming of Dawn of The Dead. A lot of great material, but someone just looking for different takes on the Romero style zombies may be disappointed.(less)
I don't think I'll be eating ribs in any barbecue joints in the near future after reading this.
Andy was killed in a car wreck along with his wife. But...moreI don't think I'll be eating ribs in any barbecue joints in the near future after reading this.
Andy was killed in a car wreck along with his wife. But like a small percentage of the population, he reanimates as a decaying zombie. He quickly learns that he has no civil rights. He has to live in his parent's wine cellar, and he isn't allowed to see or contact his daughter. It's against the law for him to do simple things like logging on to the Internet or go to the movies. He's harrassed and pelted with food by the living (Breathers) if he even tries to take a walk, and zombies are routinely attacked by thrill seekers and drunken frat boys.
Stuck in the basement drinking wine he can't really taste and watching television, his only other entertainment is his zombie support group where he meets the lovely (but very dead) Rita. Andy and his fellow zombies soon run across Ray, another one of the undead, who shows them the secret to reclaiming their lives and their dignity.
This was a terrific twist on a zombie story. I never thought I could feel sympathy for the living dead, but even as a Breather, I found Andy's story touching and sometimes heartbreaking. The black humor had me laughing out loud even as my skin crawled.
A very original concept with great writing. I've seen a lot of reviews compare it to Chuck Palahniuk novel, and I'd agree that there are some similarities to the best of Chuck P. However, I think that's selling S.G. Browne short. He's done something unique and creative here that's all his own.
I am a stone cold sucker for zombie stories. I don't care if they're the old school Romero shufflers or the new breed of 28 Days Later style runners,...moreI am a stone cold sucker for zombie stories. I don't care if they're the old school Romero shufflers or the new breed of 28 Days Later style runners, give me a story about the world being overrun by undead flesh eaters, and it makes me happy. This probably says something very disturbing about me.
This is pretty standard stuff. A virus code named Morningstar breaks out in Africa and *gasp* brings the dead back to life with a taste for the living. Efforts at containment fail and soon the entire planet is being overrun.
The remains of an Army force is trying to get back to the States after failing to hold back the zombies in Africa, and a Army virus expert finds that the U.S. government may be more dangerous than the flesh eaters after she leaks classified info to warn the public about the threat. Hilarity ensues.
Pretty solid zombie story, but there's a lot of overly macho military and spy crap with a lot of B movie cliches. This isn't anywhere close to the class of a World War Z or The Walking Dead graphic novels, but not too shabby as ending the world by zombie apocalypse goes. It was entertaining enough that I'll check out the sequel. (less)
The good times started by the Morningstar virus in Plague of the Dead just keep on coming. Society has almost completely crumbled worldwide. Francis S...moreThe good times started by the Morningstar virus in Plague of the Dead just keep on coming. Society has almost completely crumbled worldwide. Francis Sherman is leading the ragtag remnants of a group of soldiers and refugees across the U.S. from the west coast to hopefully meet up with friend and Morningstar expert, Anna Demilio, in Omaha at a research facility where they hope to develop a vaccine.
Sherman has new problems not limited to zombies. Supplies are low and hard to come by, and gangs of still living people want to take whatever they can. Anna’s group is working its way from D.C. but she has her own issues since she’s being hunted by a rogue group of government intelligence types that have gone off the deep end and want her secured.
Like Plague of the Dead, this is B-level zombie fun with very black-and-white characters and lots of faux-military style jargon and plenty of action. It’s not up to the levels of World War Z or The Walking Dead or Breathers, but if you’re craving a story about flesh eating zombies taking over the world, I’ve read far worse. It’s the equivalent of catching a decent horror movie on cable when you weren’t expecting much out of it and being pleasantly surprised. (less)
As a big fan of Brooks' World War Z and Zombie Survival Guide, I was really looking foward to this graphic novel that tells of zombie attacks through...moreAs a big fan of Brooks' World War Z and Zombie Survival Guide, I was really looking foward to this graphic novel that tells of zombie attacks through history. The stories are interesting and once again Brooks' writing shows that he's spent waaaayyy too much time thinking about tactics to fight off zombies. If there ever is a zombie apocalypse, I vote we put Brooks in charge of our defenses.
But this is short and sweet, and didn't fill my craving for another Brooks zombie book. Plus, I think Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead series has the market cornered on great zombie comics.
Fun to read, but just made me want a follow-up to World War Z in novel form.(less)
AMC is adapting The Walking Dead into a television series, and as a big fan of these comics, I was initially very excited about the idea. But after re...moreAMC is adapting The Walking Dead into a television series, and as a big fan of these comics, I was initially very excited about the idea. But after reading this latest volume, I’m starting to dread it. Because it’s hard enough reading about the horror and misery that sadist Robert Kirkman has heaped on these characters, but if the series is half as good as the books, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to take watching some of this stuff play out in live-action.
Things aren’t getting any better for Rick and his crew of zombie apocalypse survivors. Just when you think things can’t any worse or more soul crushing for the gang, Kirkman comes up with all kinds fresh hell to inflict on them.
All joking aside, this is what makes this series so great and unique. By using the concept of a zombie apocalypse in an on-going series, Kirkman has been able to develop realistic characters and give depth to the hellish portrayal of survival in the face of unrelenting horror.
Must reading for any zombie or serious horror fans. Be warned, just because this a zombie comic, don’t think that it’s just light genre entertainment. There is some seriously dark and twisted shit going on here. (less)
A decent collection of zombie stories with a lot of variation from the usual George Romero-style zombie apocalypse. Stand outs include Joe Hill’s stor...moreA decent collection of zombie stories with a lot of variation from the usual George Romero-style zombie apocalypse. Stand outs include Joe Hill’s story told as a collection of Tweets from a bored teen-age girl on a family vacation that includes attending a zombie circus and Jonathan Maberry’s touching Family Business. Surprisingly, Joe Lansdale’s contribution isn’t really a zombie story at all so it seems a bit out of place despite being one of the better tales included. (less)
In this book, the corpses of the recently dead in Sweden become reanimated which leads to numerous legal, political and ethical issues when it comes t...moreIn this book, the corpses of the recently dead in Sweden become reanimated which leads to numerous legal, political and ethical issues when it comes to dealing with folks who aren’t technically alive. What kind of dilemmas would this cause society? For example, if this actually happened in Stockholm, I’m sure that that the publishers of Stieg Larsson’s books would chain his zombified ass to a desk and let him bang on the keys of a laptop until they got enough to put out a new bestseller, The Girl Who sJFnfJGgJOJ=I30&*(&U389kkl8.
Back to this book. Sweden is experiencing a weird electrical surge that leaves people unable to turn off or unplug their electronics, and it also seems to be giving everyone some wicked headaches. After a sudden intensification of the electrical field, it’s gone but in it’s wake, the recently dead in the area have awakened.
However, these aren’t the usual flesh eating zombies. These are just mindless and disgusting corpses that usually try to return to their old homes. The Swedish government tries to deal with 2000 of the walking dead as their loved ones demand answers and access to them. Is this a virus? Something supernatural? A sign of the apocalypse? No one knows, and the status of the zombies’ civil rights is up in the air since no law has ever addressed the undead before. As tensions rise, it becomes clear that the zombies are causing some kind of telepathy in the living people as well as becoming mirrors to the emotional state of those closest to them.
As both a fan of the zombie genre and Lindquvist’s previous genre-bending vampire novel Let the Right One In, I had high hopes for this one, but I was supremely disappointed. Part of my problem with this has to do with my own preferences in zombie story telling. I like my zombies to be horrific cannibals who munch brains and destroy society while survivors struggle against them and each other. Whenever anyone starts to add in telepathy or tries to make the zombies part of some larger supernatural force, my eyes glaze over. And if you’ve got a pack of zombies that are just sad remnants of the people who died that don’t even try to gnaw on the nearest person, then I’m just not that interested. (Yes, I realize I have issues.)
It seems like Lindquvist couldn’t decide if he was writing a horror novel about the nature of death, or kind of an absurd take on the idea of how society would react if people did come back from the dead. Frankly, S.G. Browne’s black comedy Breathers already dealt with a lot of these ideas, and Browne did it better. The focus keeps wandering as Lindqvist tries to add in some horror elements late in the game, and the ending was a mess.
It’s still well-written and Lindquvist is a writer who realizes that people are the ultimate monsters, but I would have liked to have seen what kind of twist he could have put on the classic zombie genre of the undead destroying society rather than society trying to figure out how to deal with some mostly harmless walking corpses.(less)
I gotta be honest. I’m absolutely terrified about the upcoming AMC series based on these Walking Dead comics.
I’m not scared of the zombies. It’s the i...moreI gotta be honest. I’m absolutely terrified about the upcoming AMC series based on these Walking Dead comics.
I’m not scared of the zombies. It’s the idea that Frank Darabont is doing the show. Sure, to most people he’s the guy who had Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman get busy livin’ instead of gettin’ busy dying in Shawshank Redemption. Or he’s the guy who directed Tom Hanks getting choked up as he was about to roll on two in The Green Mile. But to me, Darabont is the twisted bastard who came up with that shattering conclusion to yet another Stephen King adaptation, The Mist. (I’ve read that King told Darabont that he wouldn’t have had the balls to write that ending even if he would have thought of it.)
So I shudder to think what’s going to happen when Darabont teams up with another guy who is more than willing to do the unthinkable in his stories, Robert Kirkman. Seriously, I think the two of them may be able to create a vortex of soul-crushing horror that will cause every single person on the planet to lose their will to live.
But it’ll probably be a great show.
In the first volume of The Walking Dead, Kirkman wrote an introduction where he explained that he wanted to do a comic about zombies because whenever he saw a movie about a zombie apocalypse, he always wanted to see what happened next after the credits rolled. He explained that the comics would be a chance to do an almost endless series of post-apocalyptic zombie stories.
While he’s gotten his wish and done a brilliant job, he’s also tapped into something else. Usually, a horror story ends after a single book, film or a show. Yes, there could be sequels, but by and large, even in the really dark stuff, there’s always an END to it. Even if all the stupid teenagers get chainsaw massacred, they were dead and the movie is over.
With the comics, Kirkman’s writing makes you really care about the characters. His willingness to go to the really dark places and subject the characters you like to a variety of physical and psychological horrors gives the comics their dark and gritty flavor.
But it’s because there isn’t an ending that The Walking Dead really gets under your skin after a while. Because after all the evil shit that’s happened to the survivors, it just keeps getting worse. By surviving, they have to endure. And enduring means waking up in the same horror show day after day. What Kirkman has done is to bring an overwhelming feeling of dread into these comics because at this point, no matter how shitty things are, we know that it can always get worse. Which is exactly what it will be like when the zombies have taken over.
It’s hard to read in a black-and-white comic. I don’t know if I’m going to handle seeing what another guy who has shown he’s willing to push at the same limits will be able to do in live action color. And oh, yeah. It’s going to premiere on Halloween night.
When civilization finally does collapse and I’m left in the post-apocalyptic wasteland scrounging for weapons, books and tacos, I’m going to be one of...moreWhen civilization finally does collapse and I’m left in the post-apocalyptic wasteland scrounging for weapons, books and tacos, I’m going to be one of those loner types like Mad Max. No joining up with up roving marauders or settling into some fortified compound for me. That’s because The Walking Dead has taught me one sure rule: Being surrounded by decaying cannibal zombies in the ruins of society may suck but normal people suck even more.
Rick and his crew have found a small community that has managed to secure themselves from the zombie hordes and live in a somewhat normal fashion. However, their time battling the undead and various human scum has taken a heavy toll on Rick. He’s had to do so many terrible things to survive that he’s fallen into the trap of thinking that he’s the only one capable of making the hard choices needed. So his uneasiness and lack of trust in their new community pushes him to steal and hide weapons as well as deal with an abusive husband on his own terms. Is Rick right to mistrust the people in their new home? Or has he become a paranoid nutjob unable to live among people?
Another solid entry in the The Walking Dead series, and it got me geeked up for the return of the AMC show later this year. But while it’s an intriguing new twist on the series, this one had the feel up of being mostly set-up for later stories. (less)
This book is about mobs of mindless zombies influencing American politics. Surprisingly, it’s not about the Tea Party.
In the year 2014, genetically en...moreThis book is about mobs of mindless zombies influencing American politics. Surprisingly, it’s not about the Tea Party.
In the year 2014, genetically engineered viruses mutated and caused the dead to come back to life and start munching on people like senior citizens at a casino buffet. Over 20% of the world’s population got gobbled up like popcorn shrimp, and in 2040 the threat of the still existing virus and zombies has changed life forever. Since the virus is present in everyone’s system, when anyone dies, whether it’s from zombie bite or natural causes, they will turn into one of the undead cannibals. Large gatherings of people rarely occur, everyone’s homes and cars are fortresses equipped with high tech screening equipment and huge areas (like Alaska) have been given up as zones too hazardous to enter without special permits and training.
Georgia Mason and her brother Shaun are part of the new generation of bloggers. Georgia is a straight Newsie, reporting only the facts and trying to get past the spin. Shaun is kind of like one of the guys on Jackass who goes out to taunt the undead while recording and posting his exploits. When they are offered a chance to follow the presidential campaign of a senator it’s a chance for them to move to the head of the pack of web journalists. However, when the senator’s caravan is the victim of a zombie attack the Masons get caught up in a dangerous conspiracy.
This was a pretty unique zombie tale with some very good ideas in it. The explanation for the way the virus works is one of the more thought out causes of the undead I’ve read. It also shows a lot of thought of what the media of the future is going to look like with competing websites featuring a mix of news/opinion/death defying features and even fiction. Mira Grant has created a tale of how the fear of external threats can become an everyday part of society that’s ripe for exploitation.
However, at 600 pages it feels a bit overstuffed. We’re repeatedly walked through the blood screenings and other security measures that are part of society to the point of boredom. Georgia has an eye condition due to the zombie virus present in her system, and there are about 1236 instances of security guys demanding that she take off her prescription sunglasses and the problems it causes. And for a book where the threat of zombies is ever present, there are very few actual zombie attacks in it.
I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the Mason’s role in this story. They’re supposed to be young journalists on their way up, but somehow Georgia‘s reports quickly become must reading on the web as she instantly became an expert on presidential politics her first time covering a campaign. Also, Georgia and Shaun are constantly looking down their noses at everyone around them for being ‘amatuers’ when it comes to dealing with zombies because (as we are repeatedly reminded) they are licensed and trained journalists with extensive time in the field. So these young people are apparently the only ones with the smarts, experience and ability to see what’s going on and everyone, including a US senator, defers to them to an unbelievable degree.
Still, this was fun mash-up of a zombie story and a political/ conspiracy thriller with some interesting predictions about where the new media will take us. I’ll probably check out the next one in the series, but I hope there’s more brain munching and fewer blood tests in the second book.(less)
When I reviewed the previous book, Feed, I noted that that there were very few zombie attacks in it despite it being called a zombie book. Compared to...moreWhen I reviewed the previous book, Feed, I noted that that there were very few zombie attacks in it despite it being called a zombie book. Compared to Deadline, that one now looks like The Night of the Living Dead.
There’s an opening chapter here with our intrepid heroes escaping a pack of zombies that ends on page 18. We don’t get another actual zombie encounter until over 500 PAGES later. Not that there aren’t zombies around. The characters flee a major city right before it gets firebombed due a zombie outbreak. There’s another chapter where two of them are being chased through the halls of a government building, but they only HEAR the zombie behind them, never see it. So our first person narrator does not actually lay eyes on a zombie after the first chapter until almost the end of this overstuffed book.
If this was some kind of more serious suspense/character based-type horror novel based on the impact of a mostly unseen threat, this could be an interesting take on the genre. But it’s not. It is most definitely meant to be a fast paced action horror conspiracy thriller with everyone talking repeatedly about how dangerous it is to go outside because of all the zombies, and there’s all kinds of scenes about prepping weapons and talk, talk, talk, goddamn talk about the zombie threat. So spending over 500 pages in between incidents of where the narrator actually draws a gun and shoots at a zombie is freakin' ridiculous.
Mira Grant came up with a pretty nice twist on the zombie genre where a general outbreak was caused by a virus that now lies dormant in everyone’s system. Get bit by a zombie and you turn into one. Die from a heat attack and the virus goes active, and you still turn undead cannibal. 30 years after the initial outbreak, there is a stalemate between the living and the dead. Large areas are considered too dangerous to enter, and most people spend all their time living and working in fortified buildings with advanced technology used to screen and lock off the infected. A new breed of Internet journalists are the main characters who have gotten involved in a larger conspiracy that capitalizes on a world full of people afraid to go outside.
The parts of Feed and Deadline where Grant lays out how this fearful society functions are some of the most inventive and interesting parts of the story. Unfortunately, it’s become clear that Grant is far more interested in coming up with and describing all these changes and future security measures than she is in zombie fightin’ action. Despite the very few scenes of actual zombie encounters, we are repeatedly told how dangerous the outside world is and walked through the testing and security procedures that everyone goes through.
While she’ll go into detail over and over again describing the blood screening units and how they work, when we finally get a zombie attack, they’re just ‘zombies’. No descriptions of age or gender or how they’re clothed or how they‘ve decayed. I realize that it’d be overkill to try and describe every member of a zombie mob, but the fact that Grant doesn’t give a single detailed description shows where she ranks the zombie importance to this story.
In fact, I think Grant may have been better served if these books were about just a society cowering from a dangerous virus because that’s obviously what she has the most interest in. The only reason zombies are in these books is because it gives an easy excuse for everyone to be heavily armed and something to run from when she finally amps up the action.
There are some other big flaws with these books. Grant has a bad case of repeatshititis and we’re told variations on the same stuff over and over and over and over and over and over.. You get the picture. For example, our narrator loves coffee but has to drink Coke for reasons I won’t get into. We are told on every other page how he craves coffee but has to be content with drinking ‘syrupy sweet’ Coke. And someone is always handing him a Coke. I got it the first dozen times, Mira. Please put down that two-liter bottle you've been bashing me on the head with.
The unraveling of the conspiracy storyline is pretty stupid, too. Our intrepid heroes get secret medical research dropped on them. Their first reaction is to make the dangerous journey to a government facility to ask them about it. It doesn’t go well. They run and hide. Later they get yet more secret medical research dropped on them. And their plan is… to go to another government facility and demand answers. Yeah, guess how that goes.
The biggest frustration in this book comes from Feed so be aware that I’m giving up the ending of that book in this (view spoiler)[ Georgia Mason was the narrator of the first book and one of the more surprising things is that she was killed at the end after getting deliberately infected with the zombie virus. Her adopted brother Shaun had to shoot her. Shaun is our narrator for this book, and he is a complete douche bag. He is constantly having conversations with his dead sister because he ‘hears’ her in his head, and he freely admits this to everyone. Yet if anyone (including his blogging employees) ask him about this, or bring up Georgia in almost any way, Shaun’s immediate reaction is to punch them in the face. He makes no apologies and almost brags about it.
Also, his immediate response to bad news is to punch walls repeatedly. Which no one is allowed to question him about, either. Yet we’re supposed to believe that these journalist bloggers are so loyal to Shaun that they continue to overlook that he’s violent and dangerously unhinged, and they go out of their way to avoid upsetting him. This is all supposed to illustrate how devastated Shaun is by Georgia’s death, but it just makes him seem like a self-absorbed abusive fuck. “It’s my own fault he blacked my eye, Officer. I asked him something he didn’t like, but please don’t arrest him. He‘s really a good guy. He‘s just having some problems right now.” (hide spoiler)].
Despite all of this bitching, I still almost gave this book 3 stars. (It was a twist at the end that I saw coming from the early chapters that finally dropped this to a 2 star rating for me.) Grant has a very readable style and came up with some interesting ideas for the zombie genre. This is being marketed as a trilogy, and I’ll probably end up reading the final one when it comes out. But looking ahead, I see that it’s also over 500 pages, and I’ve got a sinking feeling I know what most of it’ll be about. Repeated blood screenings and lots and lots of talking about zombies, but precious few actual zombie encounters is my guess. It’s too bad because a little less repetition and a lot more blood splatter from some head shots could have made these some of my favorite zombie books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When the zombie apocalypse comes there’ll be a lot of inconveniences. The breakdown of society, lack of electrical power, no hot showers and undead ca...moreWhen the zombie apocalypse comes there’ll be a lot of inconveniences. The breakdown of society, lack of electrical power, no hot showers and undead cannibals trying to eat your brains will definitely suck, but I always figured that the trade-off was that at least there’d be no more paying bills, standing in line at the DMV or having to tolerate corporate buzz words and slogans.
But in Zone One not only are there plenty of zombies, there’s still silly bureaucratic rules and paperwork as well as a government more concerned with public perception than in actually accomplishing anything. It’s like the worst of everything.
Mark Spitz (a nickname explained late in the book) was completely average and his only real talent seemed to be a knack for coasting through life with a minimum of fuss. Once the zombie apocalypse comes, Mark Spitz’s ability to get by served him well and allowed him to escape the initial zombie outbreak and survive in the aftermath.
Now Mark Spitz is one of the sweepers assigned to clean-up Manhattan. The surviving government in Buffalo sent the Marines through to kill the most vicious zombies, but there’s a remaining element of ‘stragglers’, about 1% of the undead who just return to old homes or jobs and seem vapor locked there as they mindlessly watch blank tv screens or punch buttons on dead copy machines.
Buffalo has rebranded the refugee camps of survivors with names like Happy Acres and has a plan to clear and repopulate New York. As Mark Spitz spends his days popping and dropping stragglers, he reflects on his aimless days before the zombie outbreak on Last Night and his time as a wandering refugee before he was found by Buffalo’s army.
This is the first book I’m aware of that tries to do the zombie genre as Very Serious Literature. (No, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies doesn’t count.) Overall, it succeeds remarkably well. Mark Spitz’s reflections on pre and post zombie life are intriguing and his melancholy drifting through his days cleaning out Manhattan have the feel of a guy eulogizing an entire world. My only complaint is that the memories and current events sometimes get so tangled that it made it a tad confusing at times to figure out where we were in the story of Mark Spitz.
On the zombie front, Whitehead delivers some tense and horrific action in the encounters with the undead. (In fact, Whitehead delivered more zombie fightin’ action and detailed descriptions of the walking dead in 240 pages than Mira Grant has in her two 500+ page horror genre novels. Read this and take notes, Mira.)
I especially liked the idea that the government in Buffalo has started doing asinine things like issuing orders against the sweepers doing more property damage than necessary while clearing buildings and prohibiting looting while also issuing pamphlets about the dangers of zombie post-traumatic stress disorder. It seems kind of insane at first but after thinking about it a while, I came to the conclusion that it was highly likely that the political image consultants and corporate marketing whizzes would probably, like cockroaches, be the ones to survive a zombie apocalypse and promptly start trying to rebuild the world the only way they know how, conning people into doing shit even if it flies in the face of common sense.
Great book that elevates the entire horror genre. It doesn’t take the #1 spot from my favorite zombie novel, World War Z but I think it’s got a lock on the #2 spot for now. (less)
Here’s a book called Blackout that seems hugely popular with critics and the Goodreads crowd, but that I thought had serious flaws despite a cool prem...moreHere’s a book called Blackout that seems hugely popular with critics and the Goodreads crowd, but that I thought had serious flaws despite a cool premise. Now I’ve written a long review going in depth into what irritated me so much. Hmm… I wonder why I’ve got this odd feeling of deja vu?
This is the third book in the Newsflesh trilogy after Feed and Deadline in which Mira Grant* created a future world set about twenty-five years after mutated viruses created zombies. In this future, where dying by any means causes the dormant virus to go active and turn any corpse into a potential brain eater, large parts of the world have been ceded to the undead while the so-called safe zones are made up of fortified locations and rigid security measures.
* A pen name for Seanan McGuire.
Bloggers have become the most trusted source of news since traditional media did nothing to inform people about the danger or what to do during the initial zombie uprising. The story revolves around some of these on-line journalists who got thrown in the middle of a vast political conspiracy that has cost them dearly.
To find an example of one of my biggest problems with these books I need to look no further than the zombie bear in this one. In Grant’s version of the future, the large mammals like horses, cows and bigger dogs can also turn into zombies, and we get the potential for an awesome scene when a couple of the main characters run across a zombie bear while traveling, and they have no choice but to take it down. If you’re the kind of person who has dedicated a significant amount of time to reading over 1700 total pages of a zombie story, the idea of a fight with a zombie bear should fill you with glee and anticipation.
What Grant does is some foreshadowing about the appearance of a zombie bear, then has the zombie bear show and get two characters all revved up to fight it. They grab their guns and jump out of their vehicle to take on this goddamn zombie bear, and then……
She cuts to the next chapter where something else is going on. Later on we get a brief blog post from one of the characters saying that he killed a zombie bear and it was fun.
This incident makes me pretty sure that Mira Grant isn’t from Missouri. You know, the SHOW-ME STATE. If there was one of the fifty that was a I‘LL-STRONGLY-HINT-THAT-SOMETHING-AWESOME-IS-ABOUT-TO-HAPPEN-REPEATEDLY-BUT-NEVER-QUITE-PAY-IT-OFF STATE, that’s where Mira Grant would be from. (But that motto would probably be tough to fit on a license plate.)
I gotta a lot of other problems with this book and the entire trilogy. In order to maximize my bitching, I’ve broken them into these categories that are spoiler free:
The Grant Repetition Principle - Apparently Mira Grant thinks all of her readers have the same condition as Guy Pierce in Memento and that none of us are capable of producing short term memories because she repeats shit constantly to either remind us of things or reuse the same plot points, scenes or dialogue over and over again. If the Internet hasn’t completely devastated your attention span, this gets annoying in a hurry. This repetition causes the other issues I had with the book to become even more irritating because if she does something that annoys you once, you can bet it’s going to happen about fifty more times over the course of the three books.
Mira Grant Wants To Suck Your Blood! - If I had a nickel for every blood screening that happens in these books, I could make Bill Gates my pool boy. Yes, this is a society locked down and living in fear because of a virus, but that doesn’t mean that the details of all those tests have to be repeated. Even worse is that Grant gets stuck on certain phrases and descriptions. The subject almost always “Slaps my palm on the panel.” and then they wince as “The needles bit into my skin.”
First off, if it’s a blood test with needles, why would you ‘Slap my palm on the panel’? Why not “Place my palm gently on the panel.”?
Secondly, I’ve got a cat with diabetes who has required two injections of insulin a day for five years or so. That means I’ve injected him over 3600 times. In all of those, I have never once ‘bit’ him with a needle. I’ve ‘jabbed’ him with a needle. I’ve ‘poked’ him with a needle. I’ve ‘pierced’ him with a needle. I’ve ‘stung’ him with a needle. But no ‘biting’.
It’s called a thesaurus, Mira. Look into it. Or better yet, just cut down on the blood tests.
Have A Coke And A Smile - I’m pretty sure that Coca-Cola must have paid some kind of product placement fee because there’s no other way to figure out why it seems like someone is drinking one on every other page. Since Mira is also assuming that none of us can remember what a Coke tastes like, she lets us know how sweet it is every time.
Particularly bad was this exchange on page 511 which I think is Coke # 2465 in this book:
“How are you feeling?”
“Exhausted. I need a Coke.”
I was never going to get tired of hearing those words.
That’s when I realized that Mira Grant has got to be fucking with us.
Where Are All The Zombies? And What Do They Look Like? - Blackout has 632 pages. Of this, only about 40 actually feature any kind of encounters with zombies. That’s about 6% of the book, and that ratio is about the same for the other two. And whenever zombies do show up, there is an almost complete lack of description of them. They are just ‘zombies’. No mention of age, gender, clothing, state of decay or anything else. I know that giving detailed descriptions of zombie hordes would be impossible, but if you don’t describe at least a few of them, then it’s just this nebulous vague threat.
Maybe if we could have had a few less blood tests and Cokes, there would have been time for some more zombie fightin’ action and maybe a couple of descriptions to let us know what they looked like.
Are You Threatening Me? - Our heroes love to threaten people. They threaten both their enemies and friends constantly. Following the Grant Repetition Principle, most of these threats are pretty similar. Someone is always A) Going to get shot. Or B) Going to be punched in the face.
These threats are doled out in conversation and in the blog posts that lead off every chapters, but don’t worry if you get told that you’re going to be punched or shot. These guys talk a good game, but they never really follow through on anything.
In fact, they are given to make bold pronouncements of how they’re about to unleash hell on somebody. Never happens. Probably because they all appear to be manic depressives as illustrated in our next category.
Game Over, Man! Game Fucking Over! - When not telling everyone how they’re gonna shoot them or punch them in the face, our heroes tend to get pessimistic. Once again, we can look to the Grant Repetition Principle to get countless instances of someone confidently asserting that they’re all going to die soon. It does not so much build up a state of fear and dread for their future as it bores the shit out me.
Here are more categories with spoilers. I am giving up major plot points from all books as well as the ending of this one so do not read if you don’t want to know.
Send In The Clones - One of the strongest moments of the series was when our first person narrator George was deliberately infected with the virus which forced her brother Shaun to shoot and kill her as she made her final blog entry. That scene pushed Feed up several notches for me as well as making me think that Mira Grant may have some pretty bold tricks up her sleeve.
Turns out the trick was to have a clone of George introduced in this one. That dropped my opinion of the entire story because now George’s ‘death’ was just emotional manipulation of the reader that had no true consequences. So there’s both a tragic death to let everyone break their hankies out, but still a happy ending to cheer.
Shaun Mason Is A Douche Bag - I don’t know if Mira Grant has ever actually talked to any men or not, but if this is her view of what we’re like, then I feel like our entire gender has been insulted.
As the daredevil Irwin who ‘pokes dead things with sticks’ (Yet another example of the Grant Repetition Principle), Shaun was just a loyal but brainless minion to George in the first book. George’s death could have forced him into being an interesting character in the second one. Instead what we got was a self-absorbed abusive fuck who would punch his own employees if they dared mention his sacred sister’s name in a way he disapproved of and who preferred to go crazy town banana pants rather than deal with the here and now.
Oops, I didn’t mean literally, George!
Incest! - I gather there’s a bit of controversy about the whole thing of George and Shaun being lovers. Since it was well established that they were adopted and not related by blood, then I didn’t have a problem with it.
What I did think was beyond creepy was that they continued to refer to each other as brother and sister rather than girlfriend, boyfriend, lover, sweet patootie, etc.
Yeah, I know George’s bullshit explanation about how they had to keep it secret because of their public image. Uh…No. Have a little press conference and explain that you fell in love with the person you’ve known and trusted longer than anyone and stress that you are not actually related. Most people would probably be cool with that, but if they find out you’re sleeping with someone you constantly refer to as your brother?
The Romeo And Juliet Factor - So George was dead for a while and it made Shaun into an asshole as well as crazy. We’re told over and over (The GRP again.) how he was always meant to outlive George, and how when he finally settles up with the vast conspiracy, he’s going to go off and just live with Ghost George in his head and be completely shit-your-pants-crazy. When George comes back from the dead, she mentions several times that they always thought that Shaun would die first, and after he did, she would bury him and then kill herself.
Obsessive, unhealthy love affairs that end in madness and/or suicide are not what I’m looking for in my zombie books.
The CDC Needs New Locks - In Deadline Shaun and company make two long and dangerous journeys to confront the CDC in two different cities. Both times end in disaster. In this one, they actually have a plan that makes some sense, but have to turn around and come back to Seattle before completing any of it.
And then they break into the CDC again.
The Stupidest Conspiracy Story Since The X-Files Went Off The Air - So the evil CDC was controlling the President by holding his wife and kids hostage while giving him a clone wife for the cameras. George was cloned by the CDC so that a programmed version could be used to manipulate and betray Shaun, but the underground elements led by the Vice-President used that to get a ‘good’ George and break the story about the virus to the world. Because George’s credibility is so fucking awesome that even showing up after being dead in a world full of blood thirsty zombies, people would instantly believe her.
The first stage of the plan? Have the president’s family freed in ten minutes by using secret elements the good guys already had in position.(Another action that we’re only told about, but don‘t get any details on.) George gets a gun and goes to the room with the Prez and evil CDC guy, tells everyone that the jig is up and then a Secret Sevice guy kills the CDC dude. After escaping the zombie outbreak, the files get sent out by their news site and George does a video telling everyone to listen to the President who tells everyone what’s been going on.
Sooooooooo…… Why exactly were George and Shaun so important again? Supposedly their credibility was vital to the plans of both sides. Maybe if instead of fucking around for over a year while trying to clone George, the VP and the loyal Secret Service agents could have just freed the President’s family, which apparently could have happened at any time since it was so easy that it was done in ten minutes after one phone call, and then just put him on TV to say that the CDC is EEEEVVVIIIIIIILLLLLL!
No one would have listened to the goddamn President of the United States if he said that his family was held hostage by the CDC? The only person that anyone in the world will believe is Georgia Mason? Christ, if people are that cynical in 2040 than just go ahead and clone Walter Cronkite to break the news.
I guess that wouldn’t work because….
George & Shaun Mason Are The Only People That Matter In The World! - Yeah, there’s some lip service paid to other people on their team, but by shifting the first person narration between two people who really only care about each other, it makes the books completely about them.
And if you’re trying to create a story that involves a vast political conspiracy and a worldwide plague of zombies, the scope needs to be wider than two people utterly obsessed with each other.
Part of the reason that I don’t buy the idea that George is the only journalist in the world who will be believed is that we never once saw what kind of impact her writing had. Yes, we were once again told how it got the President elected and all that, and they sometimes talked about their high ratings in Feed, but we never got a viewpoint from anyone else as to what their reporting meant to anyone reading it.
Over the course of these books, Oakland got firebombed and Florida was supposedly lost to hurricanes and zombie mosquitoes, and yet all of it was told to us third hand. Somewhere in these 1700 pages there should have been room to let us know what people outside of the George & Shaun bubble thought was going on.
I’ve spent so much time breaking this down because these three books ended up seeming like a wasted opportunity to me. Mira Grant came up with an intriguing twist on the zombie genre. Despite the flaws, she’s also got a compulsively readable style at times. When she remembered that she was writing a zombie novel and threw in some action, she actually did a pretty good job of it. There’s two tense and action filled conflicts with the undead in this that are top notch, but as I’ve pointed out here, that made up a very small portion of the overall story.
Instead of delivering on the potential of the world she created, she focused instead on the inner lives and emotional state of a couple of characters that became boring and irritating when she couldn’t think of enough stuff for them to do and just repeated the same crap over and over again.
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