The world didn’t end when the zombies came . . .

I am finally, finally posting a review of Blackout by Mira Grant. To borrow a phrase from the website that got me hooked on this series, Mark Reads, I was so not prepared for these books! They are chilling, gripping, and completely different from anything I expected from a zombie apocalypse series. The problem with this is that it is virtually impossible to review Blackout, which is the third and final book, without giving away major spoilers for the first two. So it is up to you if you continue on at this point. If you don’t mind being spoiled, or have read this series already, read on after the cover art. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please please PLEASE go read these books and then come back to read the review. They really are that good.

blackout

Anyone still with me? Good! On with the review.

This book picks up right where Deadline left off, and let me tell you, that was one of the worst cliffhangers EVER! I don’t know how people survived waiting for Blackout to be published and I was so glad I could dive right into it as soon as I finished book two. What else am I supposed to say when you find out that Georgia, the narrator of book one who was injected with a dart full of zombie virus and and then shot in the neck by her brother so she wouldn’t become a zombie and hurt anyone, IS SOMEHOW STILL ALIVE! How do you get away with that??!!?? I’ll tell you how. Georgia is not really Georgia. She’s a clone imprisoned at the CDC in Seattle. They have tried several test runs and found that this model is 97% accurate to the original. The problem? Clone-Georgia has been implanted with the memories of her original counterpart – as far as she’s concerned, she IS Georgia, even though she remembers all the details surrounding how she died.

And then there’s Georgia’s brother Shaun (who’s a lot more than that, but I’m not breaking out that spoiler). He’s still reeling from Georgia’s death, still hearing her voice in his head, and occasionally seeing her in hallucinations. Unaware of her clone’s existence, he leads the rest of the surviving After the End Times team as they help out a rogue scientist trying to find a cure for the zombie virus, Kellis-Amberlee. Shaun found out at the end of the last book that he is somehow immune to the virus, which doesn’t help his reckless, self-destructive behavior at all. They are all concerned with the fact that a new strain of mosquitoes can now carry the virus and is causing a Second Rising down in Florida. They all have suspicions that the CDC is behind it, especially when they know that the CDC is doing everything they can to block research on a known way that some people can survive the virus altogether.

Of course, the whole book builds up to when Georgia and Shaun meet again. As soon as it starts, you know that their paths will somehow cross, and when it does, it is as joyful as it is heartbreaking. They aren’t the same people they were back in Feed – literally, in Georgia’s case.  And there’s a lot more government conspiracy going on that I can’t even begin to get into here. I will say this – you remember Ryman, that nice guy that the ATET team helped get elected president? Yeah, he’s involved too.

These books are an intense, emotional roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – I did not expect to enjoy zombie books as much as I enjoyed these, mostly because the zombies are just window dressing. It’s the post zombie world that Grant creates that is just amazing and is dropped into the story in little tidbits, showing just how much times have changed between now and this frightening future. And it’s not a happy ending necessarily. It’s a complicated ending, probably the best that these characters could hope for, but it’s also very real. That’s one of the things I like best about these books.

So go check them out, right now. They are definitely worth it.

She did it again . . .

And I seriously didn’t think she could. But it’s official: Mira Grant has totally blown my mind.

It all started with a little book (okay, not so little) about zombies, a book that I would never have picked up if it hadn’t been for the folks over at Mark Reads. You may remember this post a while ago where I described the first book in the Newsflesh series, Feed. You may remember how I was so anxious to review it because the ending had left me completely bewildered (in a good way). I wanted to read the next book, to immerse myself in this post-zombie-apocalyptic world, but at the same time, I was worried. Grant had built my expectations so high, I didn’t believe that this second book would affect me the way that the first one did.

Boy, was I wrong.

deadlineDeadline continues the story of Shaun Mason, who is starting to loose his grip on sanity. He is left at the helm of the “After the End Times” news site, still going through the motions of being in charge, but truly unable to find something to live for (and if you’ve read Feed, you know why). And then, a dead doctor shows up on his doorstep. Okay, the doctor isn’t dead, but has instead faked her own death in order to find Shaun and ask for his help. Remember that big conspiracy I mentioned in my other review? It’s even bigger than they thought, and they are right in the middle of it. They can literally trust no one and have to spend the entire book on the run.

Add to that Grant’s amazing world building skills, even more information about the zombies and how life is now lived after the Rising, and then make everything even worse. Sudden changes to the Kellis-Amberlee virus (which may have been done intentionally, we’re still not sure) has lead to a Second Rising, but even that catastrophe doesn’t hold a candle to the last chapter. I will not say what happens in that last chapter, but it will pick you up and drop you on your head. That last sentence . . . I’m still not over it. And I’ve already started the third book!

What I love about Grant is that she certainly isn’t afraid to take chances. Everything about this story proves that, and makes this series amazingly powerful. I’m only in chapter 3 of Blackout (why am I torturing myself with Mark’s reading schedule?? why??), but so far, so good. You’ll get another rave review once that one is done, I’m sure.

Rise up while you can . . .

My God, this book!

This is another one that I’ve wanted to talk about ever since I finished it, because it completely blew me away. After the last page, I just sat there, staring at the book, thinking to myself, “What just happened?” I am referring to Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy.

Special thanks to the folks over at Mark Reads for introducing me to this book. I would never have picked it up otherwise.

FeedThis is a zombie book. Except that it isn’t really. This is a political thriller that just happens to have zombies in it. The book opens several decades after “the Rising” and tells the story of Georgia Mason and her twin brother Shaun. They are both journalists, but not in the way you think. They are bloggers, but more on that later. They get assigned to follow the campaign of a presidential candidate and, while there, they uncover a conspiracy that will change everything about the world as they know it.

That’s the bare bones synopsis. Here’s what makes this book amazing.

The story world that Mira Grant creates is astounding. Sure, it’s just the U.S.A., which you wouldn’t think would be that different from the way things are now. But the country post-Rising is an entirely different place. Let’s start with the two main characters. Like I said, they are journalists who run the site “After the End Times.” The reason that bloggers are held in such high esteem is because no one trusts the mainstream media with news anymore. The mainstream media lied to the public during the Rising, telling everyone that things were fine, that there was nothing to worry about. The Internet told a different story. The blogosphere became where you went to find out what was really happening, where the zombies were, and what to do to be safe. To find out the truth.

Grant has also done her homework in the bio-science field, creating a zombie virus that seems frighteningly plausible – the Kellis-Amberlee virus. What started out as two separate viruses, created in two different laboratories,  aimed at ridding the world of its two most prevalent illnesses (cancer and the common cold), was accidentally combined during a terrorist attack. As the virus mutated, it became a nightmare, causing the dead to reanimate, consumed only with the need to feed.

Do you see yet why this book is so terrifying?

The entire story holds a level of tension and suspense that never diminishes. Reading it one chapter at a time with Mark Reads was SO HARD! I actually gave up in the last five chapters because I couldn’t take it any more. I had to know what was happening. And I will tell you this – not giving away anything – the ending was something that I have never, ever read before. It took me completely by surprise. It was never even anticipated. I was stunned. The bad thing was that I finished this book during my lunch hour and had to put it back in my purse and actually work, all the while thinking of nothing else but this book. It was a long afternoon.

If zombies are your thing, you should definitely give this book a shot. It’s the most realistic portrayal of the genre I’ve ever read. If zombies aren’t your thing, you might still want to check it out because, even though the zombies are there, they aren’t the main focus of the story. I’m so glad that Mark is reading the next books in the series as well because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!!!