Some of the points I wanted to make and talk about for these two books through the course of reading them have been eviscerated and turned on their heads by the last paragraph of the second book. So I had to ask myself, should I still be talking about things after I’ve discovered they don’t apply? That this isn’t what’s actually going on?
And the answer I’ve come up with is yes. Because those were still my experiences while reading these books. Those were the things that stood out to me and engrossed me in what I was reading. For me, it was real, and it still is real.
It’s been two years since I read Feed, written by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), who is one of my favorite authors. I even got it signed at NYCC, which was awesome. In preparation for the third book in the trilogy coming out later this month, I finally got around to reading the second book, Deadline. I’m going to label the one paragraph with spoilers in it (both for Feed and for Deadline) by outlining it in red astricks.
The Newsflesh trilogy is a post-apocalyptic zombie political thriller. Essentially, this means that in a world where everyone’s gotten used to life post-zombies and reestablished a societal structure, people are still people.
For me, the first book, Feed, was made by the character of George. Where most heroines nowadays are confrontational and sassy, George is far more relatable and rounded for me. She’s professional and doesn’t like attention, but she’s also a cynical blogger who believes in saying what she thinks. She doesn’t take any nonsense, she won’t compromise her integrity, and she does what she has to. And for some reason, it’s always the characters that have trouble connecting with the people around them that speak to me the most.
*This is important because as soon as I read the first chapter of Deadline, I realized why I’d held off for a year before reading this book. I still miss George, even two years later. I did really like Shawn in the first book, but while he was definitely the flashy character that was likely to get the most attention from readers, it was George’s steadiness that really made the book for me.*
Still, the second book deals with Shaun. The most powerful part of the book for me is how the characters that have died (and that’s not a spoiler; this is a zombie thriller) still matter. Often, in fiction, when characters die, people have either immediate reactions or those deaths are used to motivate living characters through one plot point. Or both. Here, the dead were people, and they couldn’t die without leaving holes in the other characters’ lives.
Their stuff is still around. Evidence of their personalities is still around. The remaining characters think about them, and still express their opinions on what they were good/bad at. This happens with all of the characters, not just the one very obvious example who’s life and relations with the living has huge impacts on how they go on after. With most of the characters, it happens subtly. Mentions here or there, but steady mentions throughout the course of the book.
It’s done in a way that’s very emotionally powerful. Missing the dead is a huge theme for book 2 of this trilogy.
Other than that, one of the criticisms I’ve seen of the first book was revealed, in the second book, to have been intentional and orchestrated. Uh…whoa.
Read these books. Even if you don’t really like zombies. I don’t like zombies most of the time. These books aren’t really about the zombies–they’re about people.