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Some Vicious Call-To-Arms Gone Wrong

Erin reviews Blackout, the second in Mira Grant's zombie-filled trilogy about the power of the press and the overt power grabs of the CDC.

Some Vicious Call-To-Arms Gone Wrong

Editor's Note: This review is actually for the third book in the Newsflesh trilogy instead of the second book. Beware spoilers, and we apologize for the confusion.

BOOK REPORT for Blackout by Mira Grant

Cover Story: You Make Me Sing a Country Song
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: Yikes
Talky Talk: We're Veering Off Course
Bonus Factors: Hello, Dolly; the CDC
Anti-Bonus Factor: Not Enough Rick
Relationship Status: I Used To Be Your Biggest Fan

Cover Story: You Make Me Sing A Country Song

You know that country song, "I Like It, I Love It, I Want Some More Of It?"  I don't actually know if that's the title of the song.  I usually avoid any country music written after 1995, which is what I consider "the climax of Garth Brooks," or I would, if I ever used the words "climax" and "Garth Brooks" in the same thought, which I certainly do not.  Anyway, that song, you know?  I apply that song to these book covers.  I very much enjoy their overall aesthetic.  Maybe every book cover should just have more spraypaint that looks like blood on it and then I'll like them more?  I'm sure that doesn't say anything in particular about me.

The Deal:

STOP!  STOP RIGHT THERE.  I will assume that if you are reading further, you have read Feed, the first book in this series.  If you haven't read Feed, and you at all care to, then STOP READING RIGHT NOW.  Because you will be spoiled for everything that happens in the first book, and that would be bad for you, no?  I'm just warning you now, people!

Okay.  Here goes:

(No, seriously.  Are you sure?  Are you sure you want to keep reading?  Okay.  Really.  Here goes.)

So, George is dead, and Shaun is crazy.  Haunted by the voice of his sister, Shaun has hung up his Irwin cap and is content to "run" the site (mostly making Mahir do all the heavy lifting from England) while talking out loud to The Voice of Dead Georgia in his head.  His complete mental breakdown is more charming than you might think.

But when Kelly from the CDC shows up at the door of After the End Times' Oakland offices, the gang is gob-smacked, not least because the good Doctor is, you know, supposed to be dead.  Stories of clones, research that someone wants shut down, and people with reservoir conditions (like George's own retinal KA) start swirling just as a zombie outbreak "randomly" hits Oakland.  Shaun, Becks, Alaric, Maggie and Doctor Kelly are on the run from whoever it is that wants them dead, and they have few places to turn.

As the facts start spilling out, Shaun and his gang find themselves embroiled in the mother of all government conspiracies, and start to realize that Governer Tate and Buffy?  Were just the beginning . . .

BFF Charm:  Yay!

Crazy Shaun is my favorite Shaun!  I actually really loved the fact that the hero of this story was, basically, a total nutcase and not a really likeable guy.  Shaun is completely oblivious to the world around him, embroiled as he is in his own private hell, and has neither the patience nor actually the cognitive abilities to recognize when his own team is in trouble, or hurting, or in love with him.  And that all sounds like he'd be a TERRIBLE BFF, but that's basically like me on a normal day!  So I think it'd be refreshing to hang out with someone who'se just as shitty at friendship as I am!  Shaun would make me look so good!

Swoonworthy Scale: Yikes

Suffice it to say, if you HAVE read this book, you know the score.  If you haven't, but have read the first book, you might be suspecting the score, as I myself had and was trying to tell myself it was just my, ahem, "literary upbringing" tainting my mind.  Anyhooskies . . . yeah.  The shit hitteth the fan.  Eth.

Talky Talk: We're Veering Off Course

I'd like to say that I don't speculate about what happens behind the publishing of a book, but we'd all know that's a total lie.  From my understanding, this book (and the third) had a different editor from the first, and I feel like it suffered for it.  Of course, I feel like almost every trilogy suffers from SaTBSS (Second and Third Book Shittiness Syndrome), mostly because an author feels like they have to shove all their ideas into these books, no matter what.  And this book suffered from it, I gotta say.  Every other chapter was A New Reveal(!) and A Different Conspiracy(!) and none of the revelations were given enough time to blossom the way they should have.  I feel like if this book had contained about 40% less conspiracy and that much more so character development and thematic emphasis, it would have made for a tighter novel.  Make no mistake, I still flew through the book, but this one felt much more like a Dan Brown conspiracy-of-the-week paperback than a well-crafted bridge for the trilogy.

Bonus Factor: Hello, Dolly

Cloning!  Human cloning!  The reason it's good that I'm not a doctor is . . . well, actually there are several reasons, not least is that I don't deal well with bodily fluids.  But ONE reason why it's good is that I have very little in the way of ethics to stop me from thinking that SCIENCE IS AWESOME.  So, sure, cloning humans?  SOUNDS AWESOME.  

Bonus Factor: The CDC

Man, is there anything the CDC can't do?  They save our butts from swine flu and smallpox, and every year they pretend that the flu is a big threat so that they can keep the pharmaceutical companies who provide vaccines in business (I'm just kidding!  Please don't kill me, flu crazies!).  But imagine if they were also basically running the country, cloning humans, and possibly working to keep Kellis-Amberlee alive and well in the human (well, zombie) population?  No WONDER they can't do shit to solve the AIDS crisis!

Anti-Bonus Factor: Lack of Rick

This book suffered from a SEVERE lack of Rick, who has been elected as Vice President since e're we saw him in Feed.  Which is sort of a ridiculous and unbelievable plot point, but, you know.  Zombies.  So.  Man, I miss Rick.  And his kitty.  

Casting Call:

I cast JLaw and Nick Hoult as George and Shaun last week and then they broke up THE NEXT DAY.  WHAT KIND OF POWER DO I WIELD??  (Well, "broke up."  I'm one who believed that was a relationship of convenience, if you know what I mean.)  WHO WILL BE NEXT ON MY CHOPPING BLOCK?

Dev Patel as Mahir

Obvious?  Yeah.  But who else is that adorably charming, suave and dryly humorous?

Teresa Palmer as Becks

I'm just playing Six Degrees of Skins now.  But I like the look of Teresa Palmer in Warm Bodies and I think she could pull off the kick-ass, hopelessly in love with the wrong boy, Becks.

Relationship Status: I Used To Be Your Biggest Fan

I'll be honest, Book.  I'm a liiiiiittle concerned about where our relationship is going.  It's probably not you; it's me.  You know how I feel about trilogies.  I feel like they're often ridiculous and useless, a way of stretching out a story that does better as a one-and-done.  (or, hell, even a two-and-done.  Does no one just write a sequel any more?)  I'm starting to think that I automatically give books a score of Minus Ten Points when they're stretched into a trilogy, and they just have to work even harder to catch up from there.  And book, you worked hard, but you maybe worked a little TOO HARD.  Try throwing a little less stuff to the wall; the same percentage of pasta is going to stick, but you'll have a lot less to clean up around your reader's feet.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.