Thursday, July 5, 2012

BLACKOUT (Orbit ) by Mira Grant

***BLACKOUT is the third book in a trilogy that builds heavily upon itself. Because of that, there is no way that I can talk about this work without spoiling several key events of the previous books. It isn’t designed in a way that you would enjoy it without reading both of those first anyways, so start there. We’ve got reviews of both FEED and DEADLINE to check out in the meantime.***
Here it is people, the one you’ve been waiting for. Our oldest got us all excited, the middle kid left us agitated and confused and this one is supposed to wrap it all up. This is the point where Newsflesh will either be remembered as a great trilogy in a sea of limp, processed zombie crap or it will just leave us all pissed off for getting us so worked up. Does it satisfy?
Yes. Go buy it if you don’t already have a half-devoured copy on your bookshelf.
You want details before you blindly follow my orders? Fine. The conspiracy that overran the Ryman presidential campaign, leveled Oakland and left the team at After the End Times with too many corpses in their wake has only gotten broader. The heads of AtET are all hunted fugitives hiding out with a mad scientist. Florida has been lost completely, due to a surprise insect vector of Kellis-Amberlee, just in time to distract from the raid on the CDC. People with reservoir conditions are being killed off because they carry a possible immunity to the disease. And they’ve brought Georgia back as a clone?
That last bit had me worried, since it smacked of a cheap way to bring back a beloved character, but her resurrection is integral to the larger issue of criminal misuse of science for the purpose of maintaining control. Sure, we do get a nice comfy feeling having good old George back but we also know enough not to trust it in the hands of an author who has made it perfectly clear that she won’t treat us with kid gloves. Her presence, and the reason for it, alters the path of events in integral and powerful ways that certainly calmed my initial qualms.
Overall, the dangers compound, hope rises and gets smashed against the ground, the stakes escalate and the conspiracy we’ve been following deepens. Yet, through it all, Mira maintains the sense of regular people unwittingly and unwillingly thrust into desperate times and situations determined to do what’s right, even when they don’t necessarily know what the right thing to do is, or how to do it. They’re not special, just schleps who want the truth to be heard.
And damn do I love those schleps. I can’t gush enough over how comforting it was to settle back into this crew of crazy people. Shaun’s headlong rush for vengeance and crazy discussions with the dead sister living in his head. Becks’ anger and pure sincerity. Mahir’s dry and incredibly British sense of humor. Maggie’s energy. Aleric being an asshole. They feel like friends I never got to meet in person and I still enjoyed getting a chance to sit in their heads while the world crumbled around them.
Now, those expecting a denouement to the grand, global issues revolving around the Masons and their fellow newsies may find themselves a bit disappointed. Changes and resolutions are moved toward, but we don’t get to see the long term effect of them, so we don’t know how it truly works out. However, in my mind at least, this was never a story about those issues so much as how these people dealt with them. In that, we do reach a very satisfying conclusion that wrapped up their stories quite well. However, I am biting my tongue about a certain revelation that I didn’t think was necessary, except to give a romantic edge to the story that wasn’t really needed and made it a bit creepy.
All in all, this is a great last third to the Newsflesh story that manages to keep the focus clearly on the characters while still revealing incredible and frightening things about both their world and ours.

Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Anton Cancre is one of those rotting, pus-filled thingies on the underside of humanity that your mother always warned you about. He has oozed symbolic word-farms onto the pages of Shroud, Sex and Murder and Horrorbound magazines as well as The Terror at Miskatonic Falls, an upcoming poetry anthology by Shroud Publishing and continues to vomit his oh-so-astute literary opinions, random thoughts and nonsense at No, he won't babysit you pet shoggoth this weekend. Stop asking.

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