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REVIEW: 'Blackout' by Mira Grant

Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason
The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising. The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this:

Things can always get worse.

Blackout is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated Feed and the sequel, Deadline.


Though I usually try to keep reviews somewhat spoiler free, this being the final book in a trilogy the review will contain some spoilers for those first two books...

Blackout continues right where we left off in Deadline.  The conspiracy behind the zombie outbreak slowly unraveling as our bloggers dig deeper and deeper.  The final chapter of Blackout revealed to readers that none other than Georgia Mason, the protagonist from the first book that died at the end is alive and well... somehow.  Her brother Sean, the POV character for book two and who has been on a rampage of revenge throughout the second book, now shares the point-of-view with her in this final volume.

I bring up the POV's because it was the one shortcoming of the book, and only a slight one at that.  As in most urban fantasy, the story is told in first-person narrative for the POV character.  It was a benefit to the first book in that they actually kill off the POV character, something that will take most people by surprise.  And the second book shifting to Georgia's brother and blogging partner: Sean allowed us a glimpse into his psyche as he slowly unraveled after putting a bullet in his sister to stop her from becoming a zombie.  It still works for the most part in this book as well, but once the two characters are reunited half way through the book  and sharing the exact same moments it can sometimes become confusing as to who is doing the talking in a particular chapter.  (This is despite having the characters name at the beginning of each chapter as well).  If a reader stayed focused on the story, they may only trip up a time or two or even none at all.  However if you are casually reading the book and set it down mid-chapter it can make you do a bit of unneccesary guess work to fall back into the story.

As for the story itself I will repeat my previous praises about the fact that this is not a typical zombie apocalypse story.  It is more about a news organization uncovering a massive government conspiracy, a conspiracy that just happens to involve zombies.  In the Newsflesh world, the zombies have been a part of life for decades now and the story has little need to focus on how the world falls apart in a zombie outbreak.  It's just a part of history now.  It is much more concerned with telling the story of how a government could try to control it's people through fear, both real and imagined.

I won't spoil details of the book itself other than to mention the other moment that fell short: the character's reunion.  It all happened as too much of a coincidence.  Sometimes that all life gives us, but in stories when a key moment hinges on a series of several coincidences all happening at once for little reason than to drive the story in a certain direction it can pull a reader out of the story.  Once past this however, the rest of the reunion is handled well both in character tension throughout the group and with Sean's fragile mind.  Georgia's return is well explained and mostly works for the story, though it still seems a bit of a push depending on where your mind takes you in questioning it all.  The worst thing about her return is that it takes away that powerful ending of the first book. 

All together this is an amazing story, but by itself Blackout is the weakest of the three novels and lacks some of the tension and emotional impact of the first two volumes.  Readers however, are not left hanging with this finale. Though the ending is hardly all sunshine and roses, it doesn't follow the typical horror story cliche and leave readers with an unhappy and unresolved ending.  Those invested in this trilogy will get all of the pieces coming together and playing out for good or for bad by the end.

Bottom Line:

Most fans of the first two volumes aren't waiting for reviews to pick up Blackout and they shouldn't.  Any urban fantasy reader will enjoy this series as well as any fan of zombie stories as this puts a new spin on an old classic.  Mira Grant is the pen name for writer; Seanan McGuire, so any fans of hers not aware of this series should check it out as well. 

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