Review: Blackout (Newsflesh #3) by Mira Grant

Book cover of Blackout (Newsflesh series #3) by Mira Grant

This book was always going to be a risk for me – I liked Feed, hated Deadline and obviously Parasite is the greatest book ever. With such a mishmash of quality, who knew how the final book of the Newsflesh series was going to turn out? Thankfully, it turned out pretty well so we can all just stop hanging off the edge of our seats now.

Contains spoilers for both the previous books.

Plot summary: The year is 2041, and Shaun Mason is having a bad day. Everyone he knows is dead or in hiding. The world is doing its best to end itself for the second time. The Centre for Disease Control is out to get him. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, he must face mad scientists, zombie bears and rogue government agencies before the conspiracy that killed Georgia manages to kill the only thing he has left of her – the truth.

And if there’s one thing he knows is true in this post-zombie, post-resurrection America, it’s this: Things can always get worse.

I’ll admit this took me a while to really get into, but I suspect that’s mostly due to the suspicion with which I was viewing it. I was profoundly unimpressed with the predecessor, so it’s only natural I was wary at first. It picked up (or I got over myself, either way) around the 1/4 mark or so and I ended up reading the remainder almost in one sitting.

It’s a whole lot less lazy than Deadline, which
is a pleasant surprise. There’s more explanation and in-depth
character examination, instead of shoving a fact at us and running off on another
road-trip. There is quite a large event that relies far, far too
much on coincidence and is, on the whole, written shockingly badly, but
the book itself is much better put together than the previous. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s written quite well.

Georgia’s chapters are infinitely more interesting than Shaun’s, although his ‘voice’ was part of the reason I didn’t like Deadline in the first place. We already knew everything that was going on with his situation as it hasn’t changed a whole lot from the previous book, so it seemed slower in comparison. To be fair though, he has improved. He seemed a lot less irritatingly thuglike in Blackout and so I didn’t quite feel the need to throttle him. 

Georgia… hmm. Georgia is quite irritating, which is a shame as I kind of liked her in the first book. Now she’s turned into a caricatured primadonna-ed version of herself, dramatically demanding Coke (the fizzy kind, although the alternative may do her some good) and her sunglasses. I appreciate that she’s supposed to be a strong, female character but she’s too far in the other direction now and there lies only smugness and arrogance.

I am impressed with her identity issues, however. It would have been incredibly easy to gloss over her doubts over her new existence, but they’re given quite a lot of page space. It’s something new and interesting to add to what could have easily become another generic zombie book.

Minor relationship spoilers below:
YES! I CALLED IT! Remember how I was all ‘yeeeeeah, their relationship is creepy’ and everyone was all ‘Don’t make it weird, Hanna?’ I WAS DAMN-WELL RIGHT. See? Sometimes siblings are just fucking each other.  
I hate this. Hate it hate it hate it. I’m actually fairly liberal about incest – if you’re both consenting adults, do whatever the hell you like. But this is weird, unnecessary and it just doesn’t work. I don’t care that they were adopted, they refer to each other as brother and sister throughout. 
They could easily have just been close siblings who bonded over their lack of parental love, but no. They just had to add incest in for shock value, they didn’t they!? Somehow this is what makes it unbelievable, not the zombies.
And we’re done.
It’s not perfect – there are a few issues such as the apparent ability to explain complex immuno-virology lab reports, yet struggling over whether clones have fingerprints. It’s nothing major, just a few little things that break my concentration occasionally. The plot isn’t as clear as it could be, but I never felt like it was completely going over my head.
On the whole, I really liked Blackout – it’s a huge improvement on Deadline and I’m glad I persevered with the series. The characters develop in interesting ways, Georgia especially, although I’m not thrilled with the sub-plot that I totally predicted (see spoilery section above). The thing that made it though, was the time taken to explain new developments and ensuring that readers were fully on board before haring off to the new plot twist.
Read my reviews of Feed (positive) and Deadline (not so positive), the first and second books in the Newsflesh series.   

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