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Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon, Ron McLarty
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
Ellen Datlow, Laird Barron, Conrad Williams, Ramsey Campbell
Locus Solus (Alma Classics)
Raymond Roussel
Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)
Mira Grant, Paula Christensen, Michael Goldstrom
Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2) - Mira Grant,  Nell Geislinger,  Chris Patton Warning: Spoilers for Feed, the first book in the series. Go read my review of that book and don't read this if you haven't read Feed yet (if you intend to).

The second book in the Newsflesh trilogy picks up where Feed left off. Feed introduced us to George (Georgia) and Shaun Mason, two bloggers in a post-Rising world in which the Kellis-Amberlee virus means zombies are now an everyday part of life, and have reshaped society accordingly. People huddle in enclaves, road trips are for heavily-armed truckers and the borderline suicidal, and you can't go from point A to point B anywhere without sticking your hand in half a dozen blood testing units, and people are always standing by to shoot you in the head if any of those tests indicates you are positive for infection. Much of book one was a commentary on this post-Rising world in which people have allowed fear of the walking dead to take over their lives, curtailing their freedom of movement, autonomy, and privacy.

Now, while I think that was a valid point to make, I also think the author and her characters really failed to offer any alternatives. I mean, if the entire world now has to live with this highly-contagious virus that in minutes can turn anyone into a mindless flesh-eating zombie, and any large gathering of people is a potential bloodbath if just one thing goes wrong, of course everyone's life is going to change and heavy security measures are going to make them a lot less free than we are in our zombie-free world. That's kind of unavoidable.

But in book two, Mira Grant expands the scope of this zombie apocalypse, and addresses one of the other weaknesses of book one, the cartoonish villainy of Vice Presidential candidate Tate, who was apparently evil for the sake of evil. In Deadline, we learn the conspiracy was much bigger than him, and there are people who want the virus to keep people living in fear, with the government telling them what to do.

Which is a metaplot that, again, the author delivers with not a lot of subtlety, and maybe the logic holes were a little more noticeable to me this time around. That said, I really liked Deadline, just as I liked Feed, because what it has, and a lot of it, is Plot and Pacing. Something horrible is always just around the corner. A new twist, a serious complication, or another near-death experience. And as is par for the course in any zombie story, you know not all the characters are going to make it to the end and you're kind of laying mental odds on who survives and who doesn't.

At the end of the last book, George died. The author gets around this by having Shaun be "insane" in this book; George is constantly talking to him, and sometimes he even sees her. His friends are used to him talking to his dead sister, albeit a little disturbed by it. George's voice sometimes even tells him things that supposedly he shouldn't even know, which made me wonder if there was going to be some bizarre twist in which it turns out that George somehow really is inside his head.

I did get kind of tired of Shaun and his angst over his dead sister. I mean, yeah, it's tragic, she was his sister and best friend, but seriously the degree of closeness and his inability to live without her started skeeving me out a little. When, for the first time in two books Shaun actually shows interest in another female (I was wondering until then if he was a virgin), he ruins it by... saying George's name at a very inappropriate time. Now that was creepy. Seriously? This guy has problems, and hearing his dead sister's voice in his head is not the worst of them.

Notwithstanding the one-dimensional Shaun "I can't get over my dead sister" Mason and his deathwish vengeance crusade, this book did cook along, a little improbably at times, but with so many thrills and twists that it was never boring and I had to know what would happen next. Mira Grant even makes all the virology infodumps interesting. In Deadline, we learn that even in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, things can indeed always get worse.

That said, the BIG twist at the end? I totally saw it coming. But nonetheless, I have to read book three, and soon.