the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Mira Grant’ Category

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.

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Let’s talk about some Hugo Nominated novellas!  click back a day or two to see the whole list, and to click on novellas I’ve already reviewed.  Ready for the zombie apocalypse?

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, by Mira Grant

California browncoats Grant

What do you get when you mix a Comic-Con with the zombie apocalypse? You get Mira Grant’s San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats.  If you’re not familiar with Joss Whedon’s breakout show Firefly, fans often refer to themselves as Browncoats in reference to the long brown coat the main character wears in honor of his military service. If you’re not familiar with what a Comic-Con is, we got bigger problems. But that’s another blog post.

A long brown coat, like that!

A long brown coat, like that!

It almost sounds like the beginning of a comedy – cosplayers and merchants attend Comic-Con, and give the zombie apocalypse a beat down! But Grant’s novella is anything but a comedy. This is what Mira Grant does: she grabs you by the feels, and does horrible things to you.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats is a stand alone novella that can be read as a prequel to her Newsflesh Zombie trilogy (the third book in that series, Blackout, is nominated for best novel this year). You don’t need to have read any of the Newsflesh books to enjoy The Last Stand . . .

The Last Stand . . . is mostly told as a flashback.  It’s thirty years after the event that irreparably changed the world, and journalist Mahir Gowda is interviewing an aging Lorelei Tutt, the only survivor of the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. She doesn’t want to talk about what happened, but he needs her memories. They talk about other footage from the event, other evidence, and what she witnessed.  Along with Lorelei’s story in flashback, we get the POVs from an ensemble of characters who are attending San Diego Comic-Con, including a television actress, a blind journalist, some merchants from the dealer room, and  a couple on their honeymoon, among others.

No one is the wiser when Lorelei is sulkily helping her parents and their friends unload merchandise for their booth in the dealer room at the Comic-Con.  Fed up with her attitude, her parents send her back to the hotel to have a nap, or a bath, or whatever teenagers need to stop being total brats. The rest of the adults continue setting up the booth and trading geek culture quotes back and forth, and generally annoy their less good natured neighbors.

Elsewhere on the Con Floor, actress Elle Riley is desperately trying to get to her panel, with or without the help of her idiotic handler.   Fans ask for autographs, squee at celebrities, compliment costumes, shop for fake weapons, whine about the lack of wifi, try to find the bathrooms. Just a regular day at Comic-Con, right?

Until someone starts coughing. And then someone starts screaming, because the biting and chewing has begun. And then the lights go out. Lorelei’s parents are able to contact her via walkie talkie, but it gets harder and harder to insulate her from the worst of what’s happening inside the locked down convention center. Things get bad, and then they get worse, and then they become unimaginably horrific.

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Feed, by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)

published in 2010

where I got it: library

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Feed isn’t a zombie book. It’s an anti-fear, anti-stupid, pro-truth and pro-common sense story that’s cleverly disguised as a zombie book. It’s a story about the power of information, the power of censorship, and the paralyzing power of fear. The obsession with security and  blood testing is a mirror held up to our fears of terrorism, catching diseases, and general anxiety about, well, everything.  At times, Feed reminded me of some recent Cory Doctorow books, and that’s also a good thing.  Also, I find the title highly amusing as some nice wordplay on what the zombie virus makes a (dead) person do, and what we call a chronological listing of blog updates.

Feed is my first zombie book, so I could be completely wrong thinking most zombie books take place during the zombie outbreak, and focus on survival. The first trick that Mira Grant flawlessly pulls off is setting her story nearly a generation after the original zombie outbreak. We’re twenty some years into it, and cities have strict security,  blood testing for the virus is nearly everywhere, and society seems to run on a healthy dose of government promoted fear.

In Mira Grant’s future Earth, it was the combination of two supposedly harmless viruses that caused the zombie apocalypse. Trick number two that she pulls off is medical infodumps that are actually interesting. Bah interesting, they are downright fascinating. Everyone is infected with a sleeping version of the virus, and when you die, the virus comes alive, reanimating you.

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Due to an odd turn of events at work, I get to enjoy a 2 hour drive each day for the next four days. Thank goodness for podcasting is all I gotta say. I wanted some new goodies, so on Sunday, I asked the twittersphere for some podcast recommendations and reloaded ye olde mp3 player.

A big shout out to blogger KJ Mulder (twitter CrusaderofChaos) for recommending the stellar StarShip Sofa. (other folks recommended some great ones too, this just happened to be the one I turned on this morning) Hosted by the velvety voiced Tony Smith, StarShip Sofa won the 2010 Hugo for best Podcast. There’s plenty more awesome on that sofa, so head over to their website and check them out.

I downloaded a few recent episodes, and early this morning fired up Episode 245 featuring Seanan McGuire’s (you may know her as Mira Grant) short story Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage, which is in the new John Joseph Adams Anthology Other Worlds Than These, and was read by the lovely Christie Yant. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any Seanan McGuire, so this would be my first exposure to her fiction.

All I will tell you about the story is that it is about a young woman who grows up. That is all. To tell you anything more would wreck everything.

But ahh, as I am quickly learning, Seanan McGuire is pure magic. A simple sounding story about a girl growing up  turned into a fragile state of brilliance, a fading rainbow, a moment of perfection that ended too soon. There is a good reason she is up for a gazillion awards (a record breaking four hugo noms!).

So go download the podcast, go listen to the story.

But don’t make the same mistake I made:

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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.