The Newsflesh Trilogy (consisting of three books: Feed, Deadline, and Blackout) is a zombie series. Or at least that’s what it seems like on the surface, but as you read on you’ll realize it’s much deeper and complex than that. These books will make you think about things such as sacrificing freedom for security, giving up a few lives for many, the media’s exploitation of tragedy, and government corruption. The universe of the Newsflesh Trilogy is definitely not your typical zombie setting. Instead of zombies taking over the planet, causing the collapse of civilization, and forcing rag-tag teams of survivors to go from place to place looking for supplies and refuge, the governments remain in control and society survives (though they have lost some cities to the dead, and even some states). They just have to adapt. This adaptation means quarantine protocols, testing units to detect infection, automated security systems, etc. Mira Grant has truly built her own little piece of reality here, and it seems so complete and realized, and I think she took a very realistic approach to a post-“Rising” world. She did a lot of research for this and had consultants to keep up the realism, and it really shows.
The major story arc includes a group of young journalists (bloggers, which have taken over as the primary news source) stumbling upon a government conspiracy while covering the campaign trail for a presidential candidate and being hunted down by people who want to silence them. They all make huge sacrifices to get the truth out. But what makes them so human and so relatable is that none of them have much of a “hero” status. Sure, Georgia and Shaun are kind of badass, but even they have a selfish desires and limitations. The characters question whether it was worth it to destroy their lives to get the truth out there, and I think most of them would have gone back in time and left it all alone if they could. None of them wanted to be a martyr.
Georgia and Shaun Mason, the two main characters, were orphans of the rising (unrelated to each other) and were adopted at a young age. Shaun is a reckless thrill seeking wise-ass and George is cold and calculating. Their parents are basically pieces of shit who exploit them for ratings. I’ve heard some complain about Shaun and George’s strangely codependent relationship, but it’s not really as weird as people make it out to be. They grew up with each other from a very young age and had to rely on and love each other because nobody else would. The only people in the world they truly had was each other. I’m not saying it’s healthy or normal, but it’s not a far-fetched reaction to the way they were brought up. Yes, they have other friends and they care for them. But George and Shaun are inseparable, and they only need each other to get by, no matter what happens to everyone else. The supporting characters are very likeable as well. A few are forgettable, but most of them play an important role and have a distinct personality with their own past and goals. You may not care for them quite as much as you will for the Masons, but it can come close.
And that brings me to another reason why this trilogy is so great, at least for me: I have never been more attached to characters in any art form in my life, never been so emotionally evoked, and I’ve never been so immersed. You really feel for Shaun and George throughout the series, and by the time you’re done with the third book you’ll realize just how much you got to know them and how much you saw them go through, and how sad you are that it’s over.
Of course, the series does not come without its flaws. Deadline contained one pointless fling that didn’t do anything for the rest of the series and just seemed very out of place. Oh, and the wise-cracking…certainly a bit too much for its own good. Sometimes they’ll even start with the smart remarks just a few pages after the death of a character. It’s not as if they just forgot or anything like that; they’re still acting somber while they’re doing it, but realistically, after somebody dies, are you going to be in the mood for any kind of joking (however, I have to say that most of the reactions to certain events in this book were spot on and completely believable)? Also, some of the events in the story were just too convenient. Another thing is that while Shaun and George experience character development, only a scarce few of the other characters really change all that much. Lastly, we have the repetitive nature of Mira Grant’s writing. I think there are plenty of paragraphs she could have taken out that explain something she’s already mentioned multiple times before.
But these complaints are so miniscule compared to the positives. I had to come up with these things for the review after I was finished with the book, but while I was reading it these things rarely crossed my mind. Even if you’re not a fan of zombies, you should check this out. It’s not a mindless zombie book. It’s an intelligent, emotional story that will have you flying through the pages, eagerly anticipating the next chapter. However, be warned, this series can be pretty heart wrenching. In fact, if you don’t like books that make you sad you’d better just steer clear from this, because it is rife with tragedy.