When I heard about this book, I assumed that it was a prequel or sequel to Oliver Twist, using the existing "Artful Dodger" character. It isn't. CharlWhen I heard about this book, I assumed that it was a prequel or sequel to Oliver Twist, using the existing "Artful Dodger" character. It isn't. Charles Dickens appears in this book, so there's a vague implication that he may have named the fictional character after Dodger, although I don't really understand why he would do that. The protagonist could have had a completely different name without affecting the story at all, so I'm inclined to chalk that up as a marketing gimmick.
The writing style is different to Discworld novels; I don't think it's necessarily better or worse, and it's good to get a bit of variety. I did recognise a few of the terms used here, e.g. "tosheroon" from The Truth, and "shonky shop" from Night Watch. There were a few bits in here which made me laugh, which hasn't been the case for the latest few Discworld stories.
Anyway, it's certainly worth reading, and based on this I'll try to read (some of) Henry Mayhew's work....more
Sadly, this isn't one of Pratchett's better novels. Still, even his off days are still worth reading. I don't think I laughed at all while I was readiSadly, this isn't one of Pratchett's better novels. Still, even his off days are still worth reading. I don't think I laughed at all while I was reading this. That's not necessarily a bad thing, e.g. Night Watch was a serious book and it's my favourite of the series. However, this didn't really have the same level of plot or characterisation as the better books in the series.
Looking at previous novels, there's typically a Discworld twist on familiar concepts. For instance, the Clacks is a cross between telegrams and email, but the messages are transmitted using semaphore. Similarly, Hex is a computer that's powered by the movement of ants and bees rather than electricity (hence "Anthill Inside" instead of "Intel Inside"). This novel is all about steam trains, and as far as I can tell those trains work exactly the same as they do in our world. That said, there is precedent for that (e.g. the printing press in The Truth) and I do have an interest/affection for steam trains.
The railway engineers (specifically Dick Simnel) have quite distinctive speech patterns, which I'd associate with Yorkshire or Lancashire. I think that's a new development in the series, and I was glad to see it. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast seem to have lost their distinctive voices, or at the very least there's far less subtlety than in previous novels.
(view spoiler)[Taking Vetinari as an example, here are some quotes (paraphrased from memory) which have stuck in my mind from earlier novels. In Where's My Cow?: "This is the Patrician. Don't let him detain you. Really, don't let him detain you!"
And in The Truth: "I'm sure that nobody could call me a tyrant." "Well, not twice anyway!" "I beg your pardon?" "Er..."
By contrast, in this book he openly threatens Moist, which just seems beneath him. I don't mind him admitting to himself that he's a tyrant (e.g. in an inner monologue); that led to an interesting point in a previous book, where he reflected that someone who wishes to remain a tyrant has to be careful not to abuse his power. However, I prefer it when his reputation precedes him in his dealings with other people.
There's a similar issue for the footnotes. In the main text, dwarfs often make comments which are modified versions of common human phrases, then the footnotes spell out exactly what that parallel is. E.g. a dwarf says: "Why don't you tell them to put their nonsense where the light shines too much!" The footnote then explains: "Humans would have said, 'Put it where the sun don't shine.'"
There are two problems with this. Firstly, explaining the joke makes it less funny. That's particularly an issue on my e-reader, since it takes a few seconds to follow the hyperlinks back and forth to read the footnotes, so it disrupts the flow of the text. Also, in a case like this the adaptation doesn't work. When humans say "Stick it where the sun doesn't shine", they mean "Stick it up your arse" (and the novel even makes that explicit later on). That would be equally unpleasant for a dwarf, whereas "Put it out in the middle of the lawn" doesn't quite have the same connotation. I can see why the euphemism might not work (if they normally work in the dark) but that means they either need to be blunter about it or find a different phrase.
This is a general problem that I've seen in other works of fiction. E.g. in the Disney film Mulan, one character says: "You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty", so he's just substituted "dynasty" for "day" to make a common American phrase sound more Chinese. I think it's far more effective to have phrases that are unique to a particular culture. Looking back at past Discworld novels, I liked the implications of Vimes being "Blackboard Monitor", i.e. some dwarfs were horrified because he was erasing the words that had been written. (hide spoiler)]
At the opposite extreme, there are some things which go unsaid, and so someone who hasn't read previous Discworld novels will be lost. (view spoiler)[For instance, Vimes has a particular mark on his arm, which was explained in Thud!. If you've read that book then it's not a secret, so there'd be no harm putting in a footnote to explain it here. If you haven't read that book then you won't understand why dwarfs react to it the way they do. However, I liked the oblique reference to Reaper Man; if you've read it then you'll get a bit of extra enjoyment, and if you haven't read it then it doesn't matter. That's more like an "easter egg", where you might pick up things that you missed the first time around when you re-read a book. (hide spoiler)]
I was surprised to see Colon on patrol with Nobby in this book. (view spoiler)[As I recall from previous novels, he was moved over to the traffic unit as a reward for helping Vetinari in Jingo, then he was moved to the prison. He retired, then came back out of retirement and ran (or helped with) the training academy. I'm not worried about continuity, since there are other developments (e.g. Angua's promotion) which have happened "off-page", but it seems like a step backwards for the character, and he's not really needed here (there are plenty of other characters who could have served the same purpose). (hide spoiler)]
There are a few typos in the ebook (e.g. "scound rel" and "in solence"), which seems to be increasingly common nowadays; I fear that editing standards have declined, and it breaks the flow of the story when I have to decipher the text. Still, at the risk of damning with faint praise, this novel is above average in that regard.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This had everything that was missing from Countdown: new plot developments, characters who I actually cared about, and zombie action.
I've seen a few dThis had everything that was missing from Countdown: new plot developments, characters who I actually cared about, and zombie action.
I've seen a few different numbers for this: #0.6, #3.2, and #3.4. Although the framing sequence is set after the trilogy, the main story is set in 2014 (about 25 years before the start of Feed). I'm glad that this story is mostly told in 3rd person rather than 1st person, and I don't think it really needed the framing sequence at all; I'd have been quite happy just to shift back and forth between the people at the con, and then maybe have an epilogue set after Blackout.
The premise is similar to the comic "Fanboys vs. Zombies", since that's also set at ComicCon, but I think this works much better. That's partly because it doesn't strain my suspension of disbelief: there's the central premise (the KA virus creating zombies), but aside from that the world is basically the same as ours. In fact, by having this set in the very near future (about 6 months after when I read it), I can imagine which webcomic creators might have been involved in the events at Artists' Alley. I don't know whether Mira Grant considered having cameos from real life celebrities, but I think it's best that she didn't. Mind you, after reading this, I think I may have underestimated just how big ComicCon really is. I've been to a few cons in London, but none where it would take over an hour just to get between rooms!
(view spoiler)[The only odd bit was when a group of people were barricaded inside a room, then they realised that one of them was about to turn into a zombie, so the rest of them left. Surely it would have been better to push him outside and then stay put? However, as it turned out, it wouldn't have made much difference in the long run.
As for the ending, I was quite shocked that the authorities had decided to blow up the convention centre. I can understand that they might pull back and quarantine the area (i.e. abandon the people inside) because it's too risky to go in, but actively killing people who aren't infected yet just seems wrong. That's not a criticism of the story, though, just a criticism of the (offscreen) characters. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reading this, I spent a lot of time thinking "Yes, but..." It mostly came together at the end, but it was a bit frustrating up until that point.
The whReading this, I spent a lot of time thinking "Yes, but..." It mostly came together at the end, but it was a bit frustrating up until that point.
The whole of this novella is set after the main Newsflesh trilogy (unlike Countdown which is a prequel and San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats which is mostly a prequel with a framing sequence set later). It includes one of the characters from the main trilogy, and I initially wondered whether that was just a way to appeal to existing readers, similar to when TV series spin-offs have a guest appearance from a familiar character in the first episode. (E.g. When Captain Picard turned up in the first episode of DS9.) I now think it was actually a way to offer an outsider's perspective on Australia, contrasting it to the rest of the world. That's a sensible idea, but unfortunately the character in question spends most of the time complaining, so I was pretty sick of him by the end of the book.
The blurb at the top of this page is misleading: the story never mentions seals or penguins, and one of the key points is that the conservationists will resist killing animals (even if they're infected) unless it's absolutely necessary. (view spoiler)[That was something that it took me a while to understand. I can see why the people in Australia want to preserve endangered species, and I can also see why it's difficult to identify which of the animals attacking you is actually infected. However, I assume that it's not normal behaviour for kangaroos to keep headbutting a barrier. Similarly, if they're normally herbivores then they wouldn't be trying to eat sheep, so you can reasonably assume that any of them who chase after sheep are infected. For that matter, the rest of the mob are presumably also infected, otherwise the zombie kangaroos would tear the uninfected ones apart. So, why not shoot all of them? The answer seems to be that an infected parent can still nurse an uninfected child, so leaving them alone could lead to more healthy kangaroos in the future.
More generally, this picks up on one of the big plot points from the trilogy: humans with reservoir conditions can become immune to KA. So, I can certainly see the scientific benefit of a "control group", i.e. leave the kangaroos to their own devices as much as possible and see how the population changes over time.
At one point in the story, Mahir refers to "the CDC conspiracy". He's talking to someone who doesn't work for the site, so presumably that means that some of this is common knowledge. However, he also says later that they haven't told people about reservoir conditions leading to spontaneous remission or about immunity being transferred through body fluids (e.g. during sex). So, what exactly have they told everyone else? My best guess is that they just said "The CDC are killing people with reservoir conditions" without saying why. Still, this is something that I'd like to see explored; how did the general population react to this? Since this story is set in Australia, where they obviously have a different approach to security, has the Australian government been doing the same thing? If not, has the situation ever come up where a human amplified and then recovered?
Another plot point from the trilogy was that the CDC genetically engineered mosquitos to carry KA. In this story, he reflects that those mosquitos will probably make it to Australia eventually. As I recall, the CDC specifically designed those mosquitos to be sterile, and the outbreak was never supposed to spread as far as it did; it only got out of Cuba because of an unexpected hurricane. Granted, one of the characters did refer to "Jurassic Park" (where the supposedly sterile dinosaurs found a way to breed), but if that has happened to the mosquitos too then it's a huge deal! It means that people living in the affected countries can't even risk going outside with any exposed skin, and I assume that a lot of the scanners would have to be redesigned, e.g. people won't want to wind down a car window and stick their arm out if there's a risk of death bugs flying in. So, either Mahir's right and this whole story has ignored a massive upheaval, or he's wrong and he's nowhere near as good a journalist as he thinks he is.
There's also a writing/editing mistake a bit later, when they open up a couple of gates in the rabbit-proof fence. Here are the relevant quotes:
A rumble from somewhere off to the right pulled my attention toward it [..] Squinting, I could just make out what appeared to be a section of fence swinging into view. [..] The sheep, sensing their impending doom, scattered. The kangaroos pursued. In a matter of seconds, the only kangaroo remaining at our stretch of fence was the big buck that had been gunned down by the snipers. "Look to your right," murmured Olivia. I turned. Another section of fence was opening. [..] I glanced off to the left. The kangaroos were still pursuing the sheep. [A guard makes a noise.] Three large kangaroos apparently decided that the sound was worth investigation. They turned fully and began to hop toward the group of guards. [..] "We're all going to die," I said philosophically. "The kangaroos are going to run roughshod over those poor guards, and then they're going to come charging straight through the open gate and strip the flesh off our bones."
The only way this makes sense is for the original gate (with the sheep) to be over on the left, while the second gate (that the guards used) is on the right. That way, it means that the kangaroos went left, and they'd have to come back past the guards to get to the gate on the right. If both gates were on the right (as described) then that would mean that the sheep ran past the kangaroos and then got chased away in the opposite direction, or that the open gate was between the kangaroos and the guards. I don't want to penalise someone for a simple typo, but I was trying to visualise the scene in my head as I read it, and it threw me out of the story when the pieces didn't fit together. I also have to wonder why they left the second gate open; I suppose it's more convenient for the guards to evacuate in a hurry, but it's also quite risky.
While I'm nitpicking the book layout, it also seemed odd to have an extra copy of the table of contents right at the end of the ebook. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This isn't bad but it's not particularly good either. There's no new plot here: if you've read the main Newsflesh trilogy then you already know everytThis isn't bad but it's not particularly good either. There's no new plot here: if you've read the main Newsflesh trilogy then you already know everything that's going to happen here. Similarly, there aren't any compelling characters, and no real action. If this had been included as a prologue in Feed then I wouldn't have objected at all, but it's a bit feeble on its own. I think it's the equivalent of a DVD extra, e.g. a deleted scene. I don't regret reading it, but I wouldn't really have missed much if I hadn't read it....more
There's some useful info in here for anyone who's thinking about doing a long ride (not necessarily the end-to-end). E.g. staying in a hostel near a bThere's some useful info in here for anyone who's thinking about doing a long ride (not necessarily the end-to-end). E.g. staying in a hostel near a busy town centre may not give you a quiet night's sleep! There are also a lot of funny bits in here.
The formatting of the epub edition is a bit odd - rather than doing "proper" footnotes, there's an asterisk in the text followed by the footnote text later. That would be fine if it actually appeared on the same page, but on my device it meant that I had a random paragraph appearing in the middle of a subsequent page.
It's also worth noting that the writer has some fairly traditional (right-wing) views on sex/gender, which may offend some people....more
There are two main aspects to this story: the action/revenge, and the metafiction. They're both handled well, and it picks up on hints that were droppThere are two main aspects to this story: the action/revenge, and the metafiction. They're both handled well, and it picks up on hints that were dropped in earlier issues, showing that Morrison had been planning this for a while.
(view spoiler)[The action story is done competently: there's a plausible reason for Animal Man to get a power-up, and it's interesting to see him go down the Punisher route. I wouldn't want the whole series to be like that, but it works well for a while.
Then we get the return of several pre-Crisis characters. This reminded me of what Mark Waid later did with Hypertime: the idea that "it's all true!" and none of the other worlds have completely disappeared. I can understand people feeling affection for some of the old characters, and it's interesting to see how many of them have subsequently reappeared (e.g. Doiby Dickles turned up in Young Justice).
Similarly, I liked the idea of a literal limbo for characters who aren't currently appearing in stories. Peter David did something similar with Supergirl (Linda Danvers) and Fallen Angel, although that story was published several years later.
It all led up to a conversation between Buddy Baker and Grant Morrison, and I have to give Morrison credit: the story was more clever than I originally thought. The problem with having Buddy leave the comic is that (by definition) he's still there, i.e. I'm reading it. This book worked around that by having literal self-insertion, i.e. the writer went in rather than the character coming out.
There are also some interesting comments about the nature of the medium, e.g. the implied passage of time between panels. Scott McCloud has written more about that, and it also came up in a Doctor Who episode a couple of years ago, but I think Morrison may have got there first.
The story ends with a retcon, and normally I wouldn't be keen on that, but in this case it makes sense. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I didn't like this as much as the first volume, but it's still worth reading.
I know that a lot of DC continuity got re-written post-Crisis, but it norI didn't like this as much as the first volume, but it's still worth reading.
I know that a lot of DC continuity got re-written post-Crisis, but it normally happened off-panel, i.e. we were just given the new history as a fait accompli. This comic is unusual by showing the update in progress, so it reminded me of what Alan Moore did with Supreme. Self-insertion is generally a warning sign (e.g. in fanfic), and it's a bad habit that Clive Cussler picked up in his later novels. However, inserting his minions into the story was quite clever.
As for the animal rights side of it, I'm glad that this comic is aiming for a balanced view. The issue of the Faroese Grind is actually quite topical; I saw people talking about it on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, even though these issues were published over 20 years ago. Animal testing is a tricky area, and anyone who wants to ban it should be aware of the Nuremberg Code. That particularly applies if they want to bring up Nazi Germany in the discussion, like Buddy did in this story....more
It's not bad, but I was expecting more. Although the ebook is 27 pages long, the story only takes 10 pages of that, i.e. the majority of the book is fIt's not bad, but I was expecting more. Although the ebook is 27 pages long, the story only takes 10 pages of that, i.e. the majority of the book is filler. At £1.49, that's more expensive per page than most comics; I don't mind paying extra there, because I know that the artwork (normally) takes longer than the script.
Still, cost aside, how's the story? I'm glad that it was told in the 3rd person, rather than being a 1st person narrative like the Newsflesh trilogy. However, I was able to predict what happened before I read it, and the story ends before it actually explores any of the consequences.
(view spoiler)[The story started out with a scenario about a hypothetical researcher, so I immediately guessed that the person who laid out the scenario was actually talking about herself. Since that was so obvious, I then suspected that there would be another twist, and the obvious choice was that the scenario was actually happening. So, it's a bit like watching a film by M. Night Shyamalan or reading one of Roald Dahl's short stories: having a twist ending can be effective if it surprises people, but if people know that there's going to be a twist then they can figure out what it's going to be, and then it loses its impact.
The characters mention that the scenario writer once missed 2 sessions because she had pneumonia. I'm guessing that this is when she gave herself the vaccine, and by turning up in her bathrobe (when she hadn't fully recovered) she then spread it to the rest of the group.
The big dilemma involves 2 plagues (a bacteria and a virus). A few other reviewers said that they were confused, so here's how I understand it.
Option 1: If the group all stay quiet, then 91% of 80% of the population will die, i.e. 72% of the population. The group will all survive, along with their friends/family, and 28% of the general population.
Option 2: If any of the group report this to the government then the people in charge will recognise this as one of their own projects, and they'll be able to stop it. However, Cole (the researcher) will then release her virus, which will kill all of them (Cole and friends) and also have a nastier effect on the general population.
So, either way, the plan is to put a halt to any more government research into plagues like this, by knocking everyone back into the Dark Ages. The only question is whether humanity/society should be able to survive at all.
That's an interesting premise for a story, but that's also where it stops.
I'm also not convinced that it's effective. Firstly, there's no direct link between the group reporting this and the virus getting loose: it relies on Cole hearing about it and then choosing to release the virus. So, she could still release it even if they keep quiet, or she could decide not to take further action if they do report it.
I will accept the premise that the group couldn't tell the government "Hey, arrest Cole before you do anything else", because they probably don't have access to the head honcho at the CDC, and if they have to start at the bottom and send a report upwards then it's plausible that someone who's friendly to Cole would warn her. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
If you haven't read Feed then don't read this; it's an alternate ending that won't mean anything without the rest of the story leading up to this poinIf you haven't read Feed then don't read this; it's an alternate ending that won't mean anything without the rest of the story leading up to this point. If you have read Feed then this is mildly interesting, but it's not significantly different.
My next comments contain spoilers for Deadline and Blackout as well as Feed/Fed.
(view spoiler)[Either Deadline or Blackout (I'm not sure which) established that the attacker was actually aiming for Shaun with the live KA dart, and only hit Georgia by mistake. So, in this story we see what would have happened if the dart had been on target. Basically, exactly the same thing, with the character names swapped around; Shaun dies, then Georgia confronts Governor Tate and ends up shooting him. The main difference is that Georgia then killed herself afterwards, presumably because she took Tate's confession at face value and thought that her work was done.
In Feed, Rick wound up as Senator Ryman's running mate after Tate died, and he later became Vice President. In Fed, that didn't happen, so I wonder why. In both stories, Georgia was dead, so did Shaun's death really make that much difference? I.e. did Rick refuse the offer or did something else change Ryman's mind so that he didn't make the offer?
Also, Deadline established that Shaun is immune to KA, i.e. the dart wouldn't actually have caused him to amplify. So, it's a pity that Georgia didn't give him a testing kit before she left him outside the van to die; after all, we know that they had an expensive kit on board, because he insisted on testing her. For that matter, we also don't know what happened to him outside. If he didn't amplify then was he eaten? Did he shoot himself before it got to that stage?
All in all, I found this disappointing. The similarities make it boring and the differences aren't explored. I really liked the main trilogy, but this doesn't match up to it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I enjoyed this - it's pushing the boundaries of superhero stories, with some sympathetic antagonists, but it's still got action and someone who's tryiI enjoyed this - it's pushing the boundaries of superhero stories, with some sympathetic antagonists, but it's still got action and someone who's trying to do the right thing. I'm interested in the animal welfare issues, but I'm also glad to see that Buddy wasn't presented as an expert; he really ought to talk to his wife before unilaterally deciding that the whole family all going to turn vegetarian immediately!
I liked the Coyote story; I think it helps that most people who watched the old cartoons tended to side with Wyle E. Coyote rather than the Roadrunner, so we're already pre-disposed to see him as a sympathetic character, and I did feel sorry for him here.
It's a pity that this series got caught up in a crossover so early on, but Morrison handled that quite well. He mentioned the overall "Invasion" story in the introduction, but I think it would work better to have a text page at the beginning/end of each crossover issue, giving a brief recap of the plot from elsewhere. That's what Marvel did with the "Hulk Visionaries" paperbacks, and I think it worked well.
I enjoyed reading this, and I stayed up late to finish it. Just to state the obvious, you should definitely read the previous two books in the trilogyI enjoyed reading this, and I stayed up late to finish it. Just to state the obvious, you should definitely read the previous two books in the trilogy (Feed and Deadline) before you read this.
Reading other reviews, I know that some people felt that there weren't enough zombies in the previous two books, and this book certainly has more action. Also, the bloggers finally find out the truth about everything that's been going on, but I wasn't so satisfied by that part of it. That's partly because I've reached saturation point: after I've heard that group X have done a certain number of bad things, I'm no longer going to be shocked after they cross another line. It's also because the book moved on quite quickly, without really dwelling on the implications, so a lot went unsaid.
The ebook had several typos (more so than the previous books), which is a pity; each time I see a space in the middle of a word, it breaks my immersion and takes me out of the story.
Also, as a minor nitpick, there's a comment about a restroom that only used hot air to dry hands rather than towels. Based on my training in IPC (Infection Prevention and Control), it's actually the other way around: disposable paper towels are better than air dryers, because you can then dump the towel into the rubbish rather than blowing any bugs around the room.
Major spoilers follow, so please don't read the rest of this review until you've read the series.
(view spoiler)["Deadline" ended with Georgia being alive again, and this book established quite quickly that she was a clone. I'll accept that; I'm used to the idea from the various superhero comics I've read. In Only You Can Save Mankind, the aliens from the computer game refer to Johnny Maxwell as "the hero with a thousand extra lives", i.e. each time he dies he can just try again. This book handled that differently: the CDC made thousands of clones, and the vast majority of them died, but this copy of Georgia doesn't have any of their memories. So, everyone else remembers what "she" did previously, but she doesn't.
This book also establishes that Shaun and Georgia are/were romantically involved. I don't object to that on general principles (since they're not actually biological siblings), but it's a bit disappointing. That's partly because it undercuts Georgia's narration in "Feed", where she got irritated by everyone else being surprised that she and Shaun were so close (e.g. sharing a room together). Also, this book established that Shaun got his immunity because of what he and Georgia did. When I first read that, I thought that it might be a "blood brothers" ceremony; schoolkids used to do that in the 1970s/1980s in the UK, by cutting their palms and then holding hands to mingle blood. (Teachers started cracking down on that when HIV/AIDS came along.) As it stands, I assume that they had unprotected sex.
Moving on to the big conspiracy, here's the way I understand it:
#1) In "Feed", Tate was arranging to turn people into zombies, so that the people in power could justify a high level of security and keep everyone else living in fear. (This is similar to the conspiracy theory that the US government actually destroyed the World Trade Center themselves as a "false flag" operation.)
#2) In "Deadline", they learned that Tate was just a pawn, and that the CDC were pulling the strings. Some people with reservoir conditions (e.g. retinal KA) could recover from being amplified. (Apparently a 0.2% chance, although that information came from an unreliable source.) If people knew that this was possible then they'd refuse to shoot their zombified friends/family, and everyone would die. So, the CDC were killing everyone with reservoir conditions before this could come out. They also released a new strain of KA every so often, and then it would take a while for people to adapt to it (i.e. developing reservoir conditions).
#3) In "Blackout", the CDC deliberately modified (sterile) mosquitoes to carry KA, and released them in Cuba. The goal was to cause a big outbreak which would bury any other news stories. However, the bugs got caught up in a tropical storm, so they spread far further than anyone anticipated, and Florida was lost. Meanwhile, they discovered that there's no possible cure for KA, or rather no cure that wouldn't kill the person. Their new goal was to find a new strain which wouldn't cause reservoir conditions, then they could just settle down with the new status quo: they wouldn't need to go around killing people, and everyone else could keep killing zombies as normal, while living in (false) hope that the CDC were investigating a cure.
I can accept all of that. I've heard about politicians who deliberately release bad news on certain days when they'll be buried by a bigger headline, so this novel is just taking that to the next level by having them create a bigger story as a distraction.
It also poses a moral dilemma for the bloggers. Should they publish and be damned, or should they join the conspiracy and become accomplices to mass murder? Unfortunately, the story didn't really go into this, because the CDC then said "Cooperate or we kill you." Standing up to that kind of threat is much simpler, but what did it actually achieve? I.e. what has now changed? As far as I can tell, the bloggers have told everyone else that the CDC was up to something dodgy, but they've also kept quiet about the key parts (at least for now). Now that the good guys have deposed the CDC, what happens next? Will there be people with reservoir conditions who amplify and get better? What happens when that news spreads? Will the public find out that there's never going to be a cure? How will they react?
I'm also not quite clear on why Rick thought that history would remember President Ryman as a hero and him (Rick) as a monster. They were both involved in the same conspiracy, and they both knew about the cloning.
The book also mentioned that this was an international conspiracy. I suppose it would have to be, really; in "Deadline", Mahir spoke to doctors in London, who then all died/disappeared. However, that means that it's not just the CDC in charge of this, and getting them out of power in the USA won't affect the rest of the world. So, are the problems still going to continue in other countries? What happens if country X decides that their citizens can handle the truth? Once the news is public, it will spread around the world.
Speaking of international relations, what exactly does it mean for the USA to cede Florida? In other words, suppose that Russia felt optimistic about being able to control/eliminate the zombies; could they move in to claim that land, since it's no longer part of the USA?
Coming back to the bloggers, I liked Shaun's reaction when he realised that other people could see Georgia's clone too, i.e. he wasn't just hallucinating. Shaun's conversations reminded me of stories like "Quantum Leap", where Sam could see Al but nobody else could. However, I thought that it was a bit of a coincidence that everyone would wind up in Seattle. That's especially the case when the undercover agents inside the CDC had an indirect link to the mad scientist who Shaun and co were staying with. Similarly, Georgia sent a message to Alaric before Shaun and Becks invaded the CDC, but the message didn't get passed on. So, I think that part of the story could have worked better.
I realise that this all sounds as if I'm being negative, but again I did enjoy the book. I'm also planning to pick up the novellas based on the trilogy, and I'll look out for the author's other work (under a different name). So, this book just falls into the "really good" rather than "absolutely amazing" category. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy (Feed), but I wasn't sure how well this one would work with a different narrator. Happily, it worked ouI really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy (Feed), but I wasn't sure how well this one would work with a different narrator. Happily, it worked out ok. I don't think that Shaun is my favourite character, but he did a decent job of reporting the story.
"Feed" told a complete story, although the author deliberately left room for sequels. By contrast, "Deadline" is the middle of a trilogy. There's some exposition near the start, to recap the events of "Feed", although I think that would have worked better as a prologue told by an omniscient (third person) narrator. That probably gives you enough information to be able to follow this story, but I strongly recommend reading "Feed" first. Also, be aware that this book ends on a cliffhanger. Fortunately I didn't start reading the series until they'd all been published, so I don't have to wait several months for the final instalment!
There was one particular scene in "Feed" which was quite harrowing, and this book tops it. I won't say any more than that, to avoid spoiling it.
Looking at other reviews, I can see why some people didn't like this book. There is a certain amount of repetition (e.g. the frequent blood tests) and (view spoiler)[Shaun (hide spoiler)] wouldn't be a good person to be around. However, I can honestly say that those things didn't bother me when I read it.
At one point in the book, the characters discuss a story about a stowaway on a spaceship. They don't mention the author or title; I can understand if they don't remember, but I'm surprised that the author didn't give more info in her afterword. Anyway, the story they're referring to is "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin (which was later turned into a Twilight Zone episode), and you can read it online here: http://www.spacewesterns.com/articles...
(view spoiler)[When I read "Feed", I did wonder whether the author was leading up to an incestuous relationship between Shaun and George; since they were both adopted, and born a few weeks apart, they can't be biological siblings (although in theory they could share a father). However, George died before anything more developed.
There's a particular scene in this book where Shaun goes to bed with someone and then calls out George's name. Looking at other reviews, a lot of people have taken that to imply that he had previously had sex with George. However, I don't see it that way. I think it's just that he misses her, and he thinks about her all the time (including hallucinations), so her name just slipped out.
Speaking of George (big spoiler coming!), it turns out at the very end of this book that she's alive again. Presumably she was cloned, and the clone has acquired at least some of the original's memories (e.g. her name). I wonder whether this will address my concern from "Feed": it's a bit weird to have someone narrating the events that lead up to their death, because she wouldn't have had the opportunity to tell that story to anyone (or write it down anywhere). However, if she does live on then maybe she'll get the opportunity to tell her story later.
There's a scene early on in this book where Kelly (a CDC doctor) turns up and gives each of the bloggers/journalists a copy of her paperwork. Shaun goes into the kitchen for a drink, and when he comes back he realises that he forgot to bring the paperwork back, but decides to leave it there for now. Working on the principle of Chekov's Gun, I expected this to be significant, e.g. they might leave that evidence behind when they evacuated which would tip off their pursuers. As it turned out, the paperwork was incinerated along with the rest of the building, so that thread didn't go anywhere. I'm ok with that: if I know that some things can be mentioned without becoming plot points then it will be more of a surprise when something does become significant.
While zombies are clearly important to the story, I think that it (and maybe the whole trilogy) is really about journalistic ethics. Shaun reminded me a bit of Rorschach (from Watchmen): "Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon." In this case, he was determined to tell the truth, even if it could have disastrous consequences. That's a decent character motivation, although it then seems a bit odd that their news site was willing to lie to the viewers. Specifically, they wanted to conceal their current location (to avoid their pursuers), so they reused old footage and claimed to be off camping in a different location. I wonder whether this will come back to bite them later.
Towards the end of this book, there's a big storm, and someone comments that the new Rising (massive increase in zombies) is linked to the storm and only to the storm. I can understand why the storm is creating new zombies (for reasons which I won't spoil here), but I don't understand why the effect was contained, i.e. why those new zombies didn't go spreading out away from the storm. However, maybe that will be explained in the next book. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the best book I've read in months, and I had to make a conscious effort to put it down so that I could go to bed, otherwise I would have sat uThis is the best book I've read in months, and I had to make a conscious effort to put it down so that I could go to bed, otherwise I would have sat up all night to finish it. The only points where I was happy to stop were when I realised that a particular character was doomed, so I could "keep them alive" a little bit longer if I delayed before I finished that chapter. There are a couple of minor flaws which stop this from being a 5-star review, but it's still a very good novel, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
This story involves zombies, and at this point that's quite well-trodden territory. However, it takes a fairly novel approach to the genre. There are some stories that deal with the start of a zombie apocalypse (e.g. "Shaun of the Dead") and others which start off with that already in progress (e.g. "The Walking Dead"). This story is set in a world where things are basically under control: zombies are still around, but there's a functioning economy, presidential elections, etc. So, maybe it's post-post-apocalypse? The nearest thing I've seen to this was the TV series "In the flesh", but that had a very different slant.
The book is written in the first person, interspersed with blog posts. That's an established way to tell a story, and I don't want to single out this book for criticism, but I'm starting to get more sceptical about the merits of this technique. Basically, who is the narrator talking to? I had a similar reaction to Taken: if the intended audience live in the same world then they'll already know a lot of the backstory, so it becomes expository dialogue. There are ways around this, e.g. The Last Werewolf presented the story as the protagonist's personal diary. However, unless the author has an idea like that, I think it's better to stick with a third person omniscient narrator.
(view spoiler)[The author has definitely made an effort to think about the nature of the zombie virus. I liked the idea that it's dependent on body mass, so you could have a zombie moose but not a zombie squirrel. This also implies that you couldn't have a zombie baby/toddler, although they haven't stated that explicitly.
I liked a lot of the world-building aspects, e.g. the idea that people tend to avoid gathering in big groups just in case someone else turns into a zombie and triggers an outbreak. However, there was one place where this fell flat: a couple of characters said that capital punishment because a bad idea because killing someone would turn them into a flesh-eating monster, i.e. it makes them more dangerous than they were before. At first, that amused me, and I was willing to accept it, but the more they emphasised that point the less sense it made. (I'm deliberately ignoring the question of whether capital punishment is good or bad in our world, I'm just asking whether it would be a worse idea in a world of zombies.) Here are 4 ways to avoid the problem:
1) Kill the human in a way that prevents a zombie. (Later in the book, they explicitly state that shooting someone in the head will achieve that.) 2) Kill the human, then cremate the body so that it can't reanimate as a zombie. (Later, the narrator mentions that this is standard practice for anyone who dies, rather than burying the body intact.) 3) Kill the human, wait for them to become a zombie, then kill the zombie while it's restrained. 4) Kill the human, then hand over the zombie for research. (The narrator said that this already happens to people who die of natural causes on Death Row.) This would prevent other prisoners from being eaten when someone dies unexpectedly, and it would avoid the prison guards having to deal with an outbreak.
If I can think of these ideas then I'd expect the author (and characters) to do the same. A better example might be to think of muggings - it would be counterproductive to stab someone at close range if their corpse is immediately going to try to eat you.
On a more positive note, I did like the scene where the protagonists offer several other bloggers the opportunity to walk away, and about half of them actually do it. It's a bit of a cliché for everyone to unanimously decide that they're sticking with the boss (e.g. in "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra"), and this felt more realistic, acknowledging that different people have their own priorities.
Also, this book is a lot better than The City and the City, because it addresses a simple question: who benefits from the world being the way it is? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I saw the first episode of the TV series a few years ago, and I liked it, but not enough to go out of my way to watch the following episodes.
Reading tI saw the first episode of the TV series a few years ago, and I liked it, but not enough to go out of my way to watch the following episodes.
Reading this book, I recognised a few bits from that episode, but I think there are also some differences. It definitely held my attention, and I found it hard to stop reading. I didn't quite figure out the mystery by the end, but I had a few theories, and one of them turned out to be correct.
There were a few formatting problems with the ebooks (hyphens or spaces in the middle of words), which is a bit distracting, but aside from that it was well presented....more
I think this book is quite informative, although I'll need to wait until I actually get to Finland to find out how accurate/useful it is. There's a biI think this book is quite informative, although I'll need to wait until I actually get to Finland to find out how accurate/useful it is. There's a bit of duplication (e.g. the joke about Finland being the centre of the world), but overall it's clearly written and not too long, so it's the type of book that you can read cover to cover. It has a decent balance between history (e.g. various wars/invasions) and the current state of the country (e.g. the etiquette for nightclubs)....more
Another solid instalment in the series. It's probably not a good place to start, but if you've read the rest of the books then you'll like this too, aAnother solid instalment in the series. It's probably not a good place to start, but if you've read the rest of the books then you'll like this too, and I stayed up late to read it until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.
This story continues the world tour, and it's nice to see that Britain isn't right at the bottom when it comes to "enlightened ways to treat your dragons". (Not quite so nice for the dragons in the other country, of course.)
This also continued a theme from a previous book, by putting Temeraire in more of a management role. That's an interesting development, and it's an effective way to stop all the mid-air battles from being too similar. (JK Rowling did a similar thing in the Harry Potter books, regarding Quidditch matches.)
I'm definitely looking forward to reading League of Dragons, and hopefully I won't have too long to wait.
From a technical point of view, the copy-editor did a decent job with the ebook. My only minor quibbles are that it says "honor" rather than "honour" (bearing in mind that Laurence is English), and there's a page break mid-sentence on p295....more
This is a charming little story. I'm not really the target audience for it, but I think little ones will enjoy reading it (or having it read to them)This is a charming little story. I'm not really the target audience for it, but I think little ones will enjoy reading it (or having it read to them) over and over again. The artwork supports the text, and in some cases it can be a bit like "Where's Wally?" looking for the three cats in the background....more