the Little Red Reviewer

Blackout, by Mira Grant

Posted on: August 1, 2013

with this review of Blackout by Mira Grant, I will have finished reviewing all the Hugo nominated novels. Yes, I know voting closed on July 31st, but I did finish Blackout before then, just didn’t get around to writing up the review until now.

Click on the titles to read my reviews of the other Hugo nominated novels, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold, 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, and Redshirts by John Scalzi.

blackoutBlackout, by Mira Grand

published in 2012

where I got it: purchased new

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Blackout is the final volume in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy. This review therefore, is pretty spoilerific when it comes to earlier book in the series, but I’ll try to avoid major spoilers for Blackout. However, all spoilers will be “whited out”, so you can safely scroll around. Wanna know what happens or already know? Just highlight the text with your mouse, and all shall be revealed.

If you’re not familiar with this series, it takes place about 30 years from now, a generation after the zombie apocalypse. The strongest part of Grant’s zombie infected world is the zombie virus itself.  It was borne through two independently developed medical miracles that blended together to create a virus that lives within the human body, and awakens when we die. Our minds die, but our body doesn’t. And the only cure for that is a shot to the head. What remains of humanity lives behind high security, blood testing, and weapons training for middle schoolers. The series follow brother and sister news blogging team Georgia and Shaun Mason. Shaun enjoys poking dead things with sticks, and Georgia makes sure everyone knows the truth.

At the beginning of Blackout, Shaun is haunted by the ghost of his dead sister. She speaks to him, and he speaks back to her.  Shaun knows he’s losing his grip on reality, when he’d rather talk with a ghost than spend time with his fellow bloggers, Becks, Mahir, Alaric and Maggie. In fact, not only can he hear Georgia,  lately he’s been seeing her ghost too.  Shaun has become the pet project of the local mad scientist, Dr. Abbey, when she realizes he’s immune to the virus.

Because getting bit by a zombie isn’t bad enough, a swarm of virus carrying mosquitoes has made their way to Florida. With Alaric’s little sister trying to escape Florida, and Dr. Abbey interested in some live mosquitoes, we know where Shaun and friends are headed.

Elsewhere, a not-dead Georgia wakes up in a white room. Imprisoned at a CDC facility, she figures out pretty quick that she’s a clone. But what could the CDC possibly want with her? Georgia is so focused on escape, that she misses the bigger picture. I enjoyed her scenes, Georgia is so used to being in control, of calling the shots, that now she’s got to bide her time, and learn if she can trust anyone.

This entire series is one gigantic political thriller, so while Shaun is trying to avoid the CDC, Georgia is in the thick of it, trying to learn their secrets so she can tell the world.  But the CDC has a few huge secrets  up their sleeves, one in particular that Georgia’s not ready to hear.

Reporters like Georgia and Shaun, how much truth are they willing to publish?  sure, they can’t wait to tell people the truths that will help them, but what about the ones that hurt? We all have secrets, truths that we’d rather keep to ourselves. Even Georgia and Shaun have secrets.

My issues with Blackout were similar to my issues with Feed, the first (and also Hugo nom’d) volume in the series, and the biggest offender was repetition. Everytime Shaun has a conversation with ghost-Georgia, he mentions he is losing his grip on reality, and that he doesn’t really mind. He has a LOT of conversations with her, so we get to hear over and over and over again that he’s losing his grip on reality. It had the unfortunate effect of taking depth away from his character. He’s a main character of the book, shouldn’t there be more to him?  Pacing was also an issue. Some scenes dragged out forever, and others were put together so oddly that I felt like I was reading a script of a J.J. Abrams movie, with melodrama for melodrama’s sake. Just like with Feed, there were too many times I just wanted to put the book down and be done with it. The only reason I finished Blackout was because I wanted to read all the Hugo nominated novels.

Something I did like about Blackout, and Feed had this too, is the beginning of each chapter is a blog entry or an e-mail from a character.  So many of the characters blog more eloquently than their internal monologues would infer. I’m happy I got to see that side of them.

It’s no secret I run hot and cold with Mira Grant / Seanan McGuire. I think from now on I’ll stick to her short fiction.  I quite enjoyed her Hugo nom’d prequel novella, Last Stand of The California Browncoats.

There’s a pretty good chance that zombie fiction just isn’t my thing.  You shouldn’t write this series off simply because it didn’t work for me. In a flipped around Reading Rainbow bit, don’t take my word for it. Go read these positive reviews from some excellent bloggers, and then decide if you want to give the series a try.

The Guilded Earlobe reviews Feed, Deadline and Blackout

My Bookish Ways reviews Feed, Deadline and Blackout

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6 Responses to "Blackout, by Mira Grant"

Kudos to you for making your way through all the Hugo nominated stories in time to vote. That is a goal I would like to accomplish one of these days.

I’ve been curious about these books. I enjoy Seanan McGuirre on SF Squeecast and one of these days have to read one of her novels. I like zombie stuff but am not a HUGE fan which is one of the reasons I’ve stayed away from these. Your comments about the repetition make me hesitant to change that. Although I had to laugh…I love JJ Abrams films so that is actually a plus for me!

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just tell yourself “I’m going to do this”, and you’ll work towards it. Easy as cake, right? ;)

I always enjoy hearing Seanan McGuire on podcasts! I love her sense of humor, and her love for gross weird things. I’d love to see her at a convention some time, she seems like the coolest person.

JJ Abrams is my love-to-hate guy. I enjoy his movies because they are so much fun, but his stuff is all like “running! explosions! annnnnnnd lens flare!”. doesn’t work as well in a book, at least for me.

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Thanks, Andrea. Have you read either of her other series?

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I know of the series that starts with Rosemary and Rue, but what is the other one? do you recommend it?

McGuire’s Hugo nom’d short stories and novellas I think take place in the same universe as Rosemary and Rue. Some of them worked for me, one in particular just didn’t resonate.

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I read Feed a while ago and it’s got so much going for it BUT I found myself snagging on the constant repetition – checking blood, etc, for the disease. It became a bit much. The ending was excellent but for me, and I realise I’m in a bit of a minority with this book, I felt like a good bit of cutting should have taken place. It sort of put me off the rest of the series but perhaps I should get over myself and continue. I do enjoy lots of detail and in fact sometimes I’m a stickler if it’s missing but Feed was a bit like overkill in that respect.
Lynn :D

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