Elaine Wong's Reviews > Blackout

Blackout by Mira Grant
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Aug 07, 12

Read in August, 2012

No spoilers for Blackout, but it assumes you read Feed and Deadline.

My heart stopped at the spoiler previews for Blackout (at the end of Deadline). But as much as I enjoyed the entire trilogy, and zombies, and dystopia and technology, I think this book is a mild letdown.

Of the three books, Feed was certainly the strongest. It set up the world nicely, and through the shaded eyes of George, I could understand the world and her drive to tear it up. Everything made sense, everything happened for a fear-based reason, and I shed tears at the ending. Deadline was the weakest for me. Shaun is/was an action man, now forced to do narration, except it's interspersed with dry quips and an extreme reluctance to move the plot unless it involves a grenade.

Blackout falls somewhere in the middle of that. The book bounces between Georgia, in a pure-white CDC facility, and Shaun, trying to balance multiple priorities (from Dr. Abbey's daily errands that allow the team to live to Alaric's personal plea to rescue his sister from an impending genocide).

Georgia tries to take her isolation well, but it's rather dry reading to read about white rooms and suspicion until the conspiracy thread starts to feed in. I could sympathize with Georgia's annoyance, because it annoyed me to read about the same monotonous things interspersed with "are the CDC really wasting time, money and resources doing this?".

I still suspend disbelief at the amount of money and power the CDC has. Perhaps in a world like Newsflesh, yes, it's possible, but so much of it feels wasted. Where do they get this money, and where do those sources get it from? The world of Newsflesh must be fabulously wealthy or advanced to keep up this reign of terror. Ditto for government and anyone who's involved in weapons, technology or pharmaceuticals (right, Maggie). I doubt your local convenience store owner can afford the daily and disposable checks and balances that these journalists go through.

Shaun, usually a man of action just for the sheer thrill of it, was clearly adrift in Deadline when he lost the passion for the thing he did best; Deadline only moved forward if there was an explosion imminent. There's less exploding in Blackout, now that Shaun has a goal beyond "spend another day talking to Dead George". He's needs prodding from his team, but once out in the field with another Irwin, with a clear plan and goal, Shaun gets moving.

The ending was disappointing. It felt like the party hadn't finished what it was supposed to be going for. You can argue it did - "to reveal the truth" - but it was sloppy and loose. It was like the characters were tired of the plot, so they threw everything at the people and hoped they could make sense of it. (I barely could; I'm hoping a re-read will explain a little more.) The coda at the end did an okay job at explaining things, but definitely could have been expanded upon with more than a paragraph on how some people move on.

The book isn't a complete flop. Minor characters started getting their voices in, from Maggie's temptation to return to her 'normal' life to Alisa's chilling reports in the refugee camp. The conflict between duty to report and its consequences comes up repeatedly, and starts to shadow the characters' actions as they realize that despite their noble crusade, people will get hurt. The separate storylines are irritating at first, until Georgia and Shaun start to make revelations; then I started hoping that they wouldn't run right past each other in their half-cocked ideas.

I would have liked to see the world of Newsflesh from the perspective of the poor and non-journalist. Let's face it: the characters are highly privileged, able to burn labs and discard state-of-the-art technology without a second thought. I really enjoyed the visit to Shantytown and seeing that not everyone agreed to the protocols of the new world. There has to be more out there, right?

Overall, if you've already read the first two, get Blackout. It will sate your curiosity and do a lot to explain what's been going on behind the scenes. However, it lacks the shock power of Feed and the constant action of Deadline. Blackout feels more predictable and pedantic, but it does an excellent job of feeding bits of information to keep you going and making you think, making it an appropriate trilogy capper.
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