Jun 12, 2012

[Books] Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy Book 3)

Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy of books and some of the supporting ebook novellas have certainly been an interesting read for me. As much as the whole zombie apocalypse sub-genre of books has become more popular in recent years, the Newsflesh books have maintained a rather distinct tone that has helped set the series apart from other zombie-centric titles. The decision to go with a focus on bloggers as a way of looking at journalism and the pursuit of truth as a whole is a noble venture that speaks to our ideals as both media consumers and potential content creators. And that's the brilliance of the world that Grant has created.

This last book wraps up the series (for now?) in a manner that is just as well though-out and certainly provides a logical conclusion of the entire narrative flow. And like the prior books, this means that you can get a healthy dose of both intellectual discussions and zombie-killing action. It's really just a question of who's doing the shooting and what is truly motivating them this time around. And if you thought the twists and turns of Deadline were surprising and shocking, this book has even more in store for you.

And yes, I do realize that I somehow missed out on posting a review for Book 2 and I'll try to rectify that by next week.

Synopsis: Blackout is the third and final book in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy of novels. Mira Grant is actually the pen name for Seanan McGuire. Feed had come in second for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel and Deadline, the second book in the series, has also been nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

I don't think I can avoid spoilers for the entire Newsflesh series as I start my summary, but I will avoid spoiling this individual book. Read the other books before reading this review. You have been warned.

In Deadline the crew of the After the End Times managed to uncover more about the larger conspiracy that got Georgia Mason killed during the Presidential campaign of Peter Ryman. What has been most surprising is that the larger driver of this conspiracy involves the CDC themselves, who have largely been accepted as the more or less saviors of mankind in terms of restoring order. So now Shaun, George's brother, and the rest of the team remain on the run from the CDC as they uncover more and more information about then nature of the zombie-creating virus known as Kellis-Amberlee or KA and secrets that could destroy the meager semblance of civilization that keeps life more or less normal despite the undead that walk among us.

And now we, as readers, learn of the latest twist in the CDC's plan - a clone of Georgia Mason that appears to possess many of her memories. What role she is fated in the larger scheme of things while Shaun and the team remains in hiding. Thus the book goes in parallel tracks as we alternate between chapters told from the perspective of Shaun and chapters told from the perspective of George's clone. And how the brother and sister will reunite (because you know it's bound to happen) and how this will impact Shaun's delicate mental state are things that we'll just have to watch out for as the story progresses.

I was surprised by how quickly I worked my way through Blackout - as is the same for all the other books in the Newsflesh series. They're delightful reads that leverage often lofty concepts related the value of the truth, the drive of journalists and the unique niche that bloggers fulfill all without resorting to complicated language, at least from my perspective. And that tone remains consistent across the books, especially from the perspective of the Mason siblings Shaun and George.

The decision to bring George back from the dead wasn't an easy one to make, I expect, and at first it seemed like a bit of a cheap shot to revive one of the primary characters. But the decision to go the cloning route and the way her part of the story progressed as she remained a CDC experiment certainly created a unique tone for her and also gave us a better idea of just how far they were willing to go. It also helped us as readers to better accept how this George was still the collection of memories that formed the original heroine of this series and yet at the same time being a completely different person.

I did have some issues how things were resolved towards the very end, as if Grant had run out of space for her third act and so we had to zip on forward. Given how the other books had handled their respective pieces of the puzzle and how each had methodically laid out the facts that would eventually come together to form a larger tapestry, it was a tad disappointing to feel this book as a bit rushed. But don't get me wrong, the ending itself makes sense and it is a GOOD ending to things, just that I wish we have spent a bit more time on build-up and exposition.

Blackout is a great book and I wouldn't be surprised if it manages to get nominated for another Hugo come 2013. Although I don't necessarily think it's the strongest book in the trilogy, it is still a great one and a title that stands apart from other books, whether or not they involve zombies. Thus I rate this final book a good 4  crazy statements by Dr. Abbey out of a possible 5.

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