Mira Grant
Orbit, 2011
ISBN 978-0-316-08106-1
Reviewed by Gary McGath

If you haven't read Feed, the first book in the trilogy which continues with Deadline, please STOP reading now. I can't discuss this book without spoilers for the earlier one. If you haven't read it but are curious, you might want to read my review of Feed. Drop by this review again when you're done with the book.

Second point: If you wrote those two books, sorry, Seanan. I wasn't sure whether to write a review at all, but you wrote on LiveJournal, "I'm not saying 'only post good reviews,' because dude. But any review would be awesome." If I know you, you'd rather I be honest than spare your feelings.

Deadline does have a lot of good points. It has fascinating characters, an explosive plot, and the drive that makes the reader give up everything else to read it all the way through. But after the first book (which has deservedly been nominated for a Hugo), I was hoping that the second would bring some answers. Instead, it piles climax on climax only to leave me at the end going "Huh?" Reading the preview chapter from Blackout which follows helps a little, but not much.

In my earlier review, I mentioned that the conspiracy which drives the plot doesn't completely make sense. In this book, there's a suggestion that that was intentional, but we find that the conspiracy is bigger than previously imagined yet still doesn't have a plausible motivation behind it. Really, the simple power-grabbing politicians of the first book were more plausible. Granted, it's the second book of a trilogy and some explanations have to be left for the third, but when things only become less clear, that's not very satisfying. It's starting to feel like E. E. Smith's Lensman series, where the evil empire of Boskone is controlled by the Eich, which is controlled by Ploor, which...

In one scene, the the "After the End Times" news crew is in the middle of nowhere, and something bad has clearly happened. Even for the middle of nowhere, there's a lack of people. There's nothing on the radio but canned music. This builds suspense nicely, but it makes no sense that there are no radio warnings about the thing that had gone wrong.

The first book was narrated by Georgia Mason, and as I wrote in my review, "What really makes the story is Georgia's dedication to finding and reporting the truth." For reasons you already know, Georgia isn't the narrator any more. Her brother Shaun is, and he's half insane. He's more interested in revenge than in journalistic integrity, though the particular form of his insanity actually curbs him in this.

I'll probably read the third book when it comes out next year. Deadline is still good reading. The world-building is very good, looking through all the consequences of the constant threat of zombies. There are Tuckerizations scattered throughout, and I caught enough of them to feel like an insider, which always adds to the enjoyment -- or, in the case of a certain business park's name, the poignancy. But to quote Georgia, "what I'd prefer is having some questions answered" by the end of the trilogy.

This review first posted on June 4, 2011. Last revised on August 21, 2011.

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