Deadline by Mira Grant is the sequel to Feed and the second book in the Newsflesh Trilogy. Feed was my pick for the 2011 Hugo and I’ve got to say that I enjoyed Deadline just as much. If you haven’t read Feed yet, then you should go and do that.
Before we get to Deadline, I thought I might respond a bit to some of the criticisms I saw about Feed. First, yes the book has zombies and no you shouldn’t let that sway you either way. The zombies are part of the story but the real story is how people and society are reacting to the zombies–not the zombies themselves. In many ways, this story is about the effects of fear. As Frank Herbert says in Dune–Fear is the mind killer. Fear is a distraction that is too often used to way too much effect to disguise the truth. And getting to the truth is another underlying theme in these books. If you thought you had everything figured out in Feed, then think again.
Spoilers for Feed below:
Good, now that you’ve caught up we can get down to talking about Deadline. The events in Deadline start up about a year after the conclusion of Feed. Shaun is now the narrator–the damaged narrator. He is still suffering from being forced to shoot Georgia after she was targeted by a plastic dart full of live-state Kellis-Amberlee virus (the zombie virus). One aspect of his coping seems to be that he has pretty much full on mental conversations with George. He knows this is not sane behavior, but also knows he couldn’t exist without this dialogue. As Shaun says:
How am I coping? I miss George, and the goddamn world is still full of zombies, that’s how. Everything else…
The world is full of zombies, but it is limping along. It is, however, limping in a fearful fashion. Another common criticism that I have seen is that technology (outside of viral detection) hasn’t advanced very far (these are set 30 years in the future). I think Grant has gotten things about right. Much of the resources up to this point in the story have been focused on containing the outbreak rather than other technological advancements. For me, it feels right.
The other thing that has been keeping Shaun going for the past year is the hope of finding just who was behind firing that dart into George. It seemed pretty clear to Shaun (and me) that the conspiracy didn’t end with Tate’s death in Feed. Deadline pretty quickly gets rolling on this topic as a CDC researcher shows up at “After The Endtimes” (the newsgroups name) headquarters with some key information that the CDC seems to be suppressing with extreme prejudice.
As the second book in a trilogy, Deadline provides linkage between the first and (presumably) the third books. It does this in a very satisfying way. We’ve got travel and chases, “mad” scientists and yes, zombies. What more could you want? Well, for one thing, the ending takes a couple of marvelous turns that I really didn’t see coming. Coolness.
If you liked Feed, then you will like Deadline. Grant delivers. Book 3, Blackout should be a doozie.