Before I start this review, I would like to say that I’m still reeling from the effects of reading the ending of this book, and I’ve finished it quite some time ago. A part of me is completely filled with giddiness and anticipation for the next book in this series. The other part of me, well, I suppose I should say my reaction could quote the very last line of the book word for word. Cliffhanger much?
In brief, I think “Deadline” is a very strong book that I ended up loving and appreciating what it had to offer, but not without its share of flaws. Before I address those flaws directly, I’ll address the positives.
Deadline picks up about a year after the events of the last book, and Shaun Mason is still reeling from the shock of them, and its not hard to see why, I felt for him given his connection to the events and how he reacts to them in the aftermath of things. He becomes the narrator of this book with a rich, darkly humored voice that’s strong and full of potency. I love reading books where dark humor is done well, and Mira Grant executes it perfectly in this novel. There were definitely times when hearing Shaun’s commentary that a smile crept up my lips and I kept thinking “I shouldn’t be laughing at him, and he sounds a bit like a jerk here, but it’s so detailed.” He’s some odd combination of snark, brutal honesty, and yet it’s hard not to feel how much he’s hurting in spurts.
Shaun still works with the same team of bloggers in the company that he and his sister, Georgia Mason, founded. Fans of the previous book will see Becks, Mahir (who’s one of my favorite side characters from the previous novel), Alaric, and Maggie as far as familiar faces go, but in different roles since the events of the previous novel. Their world is upended again when a rogue researcher from the CDC, the only surviving member of her particular team, shows up along with zombies surrounding his agency. Shaun realizes they have to bolt, and figure out the truth of why the researcher sought their help, what the CDC might be hiding, and how the Kellis-Amberlee virus might be more of a complicated matter than any of them previously believed.
I’m in awe of the level of detail Grant goes into for this novel. It features a richly developed cast of characters, wonderful details still centric to the world that Grant builds, and instead of focusing on politics in this novel, medical research and ethics come front and center – which I absolutely, totally, and completely adored. If taking “Deadline” on the measure of it’s expansion on the original details from the previous book and its unique strengths alone, I would rank this on the same level as (if not higher than) “Feed.”
Unfortunately, the qualms kick in. I found some details that were reinforced a bit too much in the prose. You get Shaun’s grief well enough, and sometimes it’s shown in wonderfully detailed ways. But there are other times when it’s repetitively emphasized where I didn’t think it needed to be, and I think it could’ve been further condensed in retrospect. Also, there is some suspension of disbelief to be had with Shaun’s delusions, which result from events in the previous novel. I honestly had no problems with it, and the emotionalism of some of those scenes I thought gave the novel some nice, uniquely personal accents. If you somehow haven’t read the first novel in this trilogy, I think “Deadline” does a good job of keeping you up to speed with events from the previous novel without being repetitive or retelling too much, though it does tend to be bogged down in details that probably could’ve been tossed and sped up the pacing of the novel. Still, I can’t complain about it too much because it was such a rich, vivid story with steadily accelerating, intelligently plotted tension.
I hate saying this, but the ending of the novel was probably a kicker for me, but probably isn’t reflected that much in my overall rating. On one level I’m thinking “Holy crud, Mira Grant’s a genius – I can’t believe she went there.” And the revelation brought a huge smile to my face. On the other hand, I think it somewhat undercuts the emotional impact of the events in the first novel, and what happens from here may either be brilliant or a complete trainwreck depending on where it goes. I can’t say that it undercuts my enjoyment of the novel as a whole, but in a way, it does – only a little. The thing I can give Grant is that she weaves this novel in a wonderful way, and kept me reading on the edge of my seat all the way to the end. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the end of this trilogy goes, and how it all ties together. One of my favorite novels I’ve read this year.
Overall score: 4.5/5