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Kaia

Kaia

Feminist Killjoy. Badly Behaving Bookliker. Writer and reader of all things speculative. 

Currently reading

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Diablo III: Storm of Light
Nate Kenyon
Progress: 133/341 pages
Neuromancer
William Gibson
A Taste of Blood Wine
Freda Warrington
Progress: 380/501 pages
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
The Enemy (The Enemy #1)
Charlie Higson
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Perdition
Ann Aguirre
Deadline - Mira Grant Holt shit, you guys, this is so long I have to put the rest of it in the comments!I have just...so much to say right now. Pretty much all of it not good. I've actually divided my review into separate sections in an effort to keep myself from rambling all over the place, because holy crap, there is so much to talk about. If you love this series and this book and you think it's like, BEST ZOMBIE BOOK EVAR and you think the world-building and research are so well done, you should probably refrain from reading this review. Disclaimer: Under normal circumstances I like to temper myself at least somewhat, but I am about to go velociraptor on this book's ass. A Cavalcade of Asshats:Feed had the problem that it was lacking in sympathetic--not to mention interesting--characters. But you still had bland but nice Senator Ryman (who just never stops looking like John Edwards in my head, which would make more sense if John Edwards hadn't turned out to be a hypocritical douchecanoe), his horse-loving wife Emily who was actually pretty badass, and Rick, the one character in the whole mess that I really cared about. Otherwise you were surrounded by assholes and stuck in the head of an ice cold apathetic jerkwad by the name of Georgia Mason. Since George got her brains blown out in a cheap unusual move by the author, we're now stuck with Shaun, an assholish, tantrum-throwing man-child with either a spiritual passenger or a desperate need to be stuffed in a room with rubber walls. (I'll discuss that more later.) Shaun goes around talking to George in his head, drinking Coke because Head-George demands it, punching walls, and occasionally punching staff members. Which would probably bother me more if the other characters weren't a bunch of weak-willed enabling asshats themselves. Not only do they stick around, putting up with Shaun''s abuse and making excuses for it--at the least, they could all easily get jobs elsewhere--they also blatantly ignore what looks like a serious mental breakdown. If someone you care about is having rages and talking to voices in their head, you probably should say more than "Okay" when they fire their shrink. They also treat Kelly, the CDC researcher mentioned in the blurb, like shit, pretty much constantly threatening to kill her. Look, she comes to them with some odd research results, she knows something is up but has no idea just how much--one of their own may have died because the bad guys tracked Kelly, but that's not actually Kelly's fault. I mean, seriously, she had to fake her own death. She's dead to everyone she knew and loved. It's not like she made no sacrifices. She's just as much a victim and it's not her fault that Dave got blown up. But there's zero empathy for her, and more of the usual "We're the best, everyone else is a bunch of stupid morons" attitude from the entire crew. Charming people.I think, though, that Becks counts as the biggest asshat of all. What kind of person seduces someone they know (or at least believe) to be mentally ill? My reaction to knowing someone is talking to their dead sister in their head would not be "Ooo, sexy" but apparently that's Becks' reaction. So she seduces a man she knows to be unstable, insists that she's not interested in commitment, just sex--and when he calls her by his dead sister's name, she gets all whiny teenage girl about the fact that he's both unstable and not interested in a serious relationship. And this is of course Shaun's fault, because I don't know, maybe talking to people in your head is supposed to give you psychic powers that allow you to tell when someone is lying about not wanting a serious relationship. So Shaun, for once, acts maturely and apologizes for not actually doing anything wrong and Becks gets all huffy because the man she knew to be a disinterested emo nutjob turned out to be, well, a disinterested emo nutjob. That's not even getting into the idea that Shaun, being of unsound mind, might not technically be capable of giving informed consent, so you could even look at this from an angle of Shaun being forced to apologize to his rapist. Asshat Crown definitely goes to Becks. Lies, Lies, Lies:And speaking of dead sisters that you used to fuck...What the hell? Shaun's secret relationship with George? Some of the dumbest shit I've ever read about in a book. It's interesting to me that so many people weren't surprised by this. I mean, I wasn't because I already knew, but why was it so obvious to everyone else? Sure, George told us that she hated to be away from Shaun and shit like that, but in actuality, we're shown very little emotional attachment. It takes some three-fourths of the book before she shows any signs of concern about the danger Shaun is in, she constantly calls him an idiot, and she even once says that it's embarrassing, at her age, to admit she still loves her brother. And no, she wasn't talking in a way other than familial. And then suddenly, actually they were sleeping together? But we didn't know this because...George is a very private person?FUCK YOU, MIRA GRANT. FUCK YOU. That is complete and utter weaksauce right there. I call bullshit. And nothing has pissed me off quite so much as George's secret unposted blog posts, which are filled with infinitely more emotion (though, oddly, much less spin) than the ones in Feed. Because they show that George actually has feelings, SO WHERE THE FUCK DID THEY GO? She is so cold and unemotional about everything in Feed, and we're supposed to swallow the steaming load of horse pucky that she's just a "very private person"? NO. Fine, she could purge the emotion from her blog posts, but you can't proofread your own brain. The person you can never hide from is yourself. There would be tells, hundreds of them. I mean, these are George's thoughts, right? So where are the subtle emotions, the things a person can't hide from themselves because they don't even realize they're doing them? Where are her worries? Her flickers of attraction? Something, anything to prove she's a thinking, feeling human being and not an emotionless lizard-person. They're not there. They're wiped out because Mira Grant isn't talented enough to reproduce those subtleties, completely washed away so the author can get a big GASP out of her audience. Fuck that shit. That isn't storytelling, it's straight up lying. Don't fucking tell me a character is honest and trustworthy and then have her lie about everything. It's such a heavy-handed, cheap tactic to try to create a "twist". Someone promise to smack me upside the head if I ever pull this shit in my writing. (I won't, though, because I don't like using cheap tricks to make my readers feel something.)The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same:In my review of Feed I had some complaints about the world feeling very much the same, in many ways, as it does now. For example, I pointed out that a lot of the technology was stagnant or had even regressed, and that mobile phones seem to be stuck in 2008. Well, turns out, Shaun has a flip open phone. Really? I can't even find one of those any more. Touch screen is the wave of the future. I'd also like to know how we went from people having mostly given up on poultry in Feed to turkey bacon. I would expect some kind of remark about turkey bacon being expensive, but poultry-substitutes are everywhere in Deadline. If people aren't eating poultry, shouldn't such things be expensive? Oh, who am I kidding. No one goes out or travels because they're so terrified of the zombies, but hotels do enough business to survive. Supposedly seafood has become much more popular, but the fact that we're already overfishing now is never addressed. There's no alternative fuels or armored cars despite environmental worries and the danger of zombies. So why am I expecting this to make sense?I also had issues because it appeared in Feed that the zombie apocalypse did nothing to change social attitudes or ideologies, what with things like sexism and rape culture still being rampant 28 years in the future. In Deadline that's proven, and in the most horrific way. There's no public healthcare. I want you to think about that good and hard. It's stated numerous times that the test kits and the equipment necessary to keep people safe from Kellis-Amberlee are really, really expensive. And there is nothing to aid the poor in getting these things. It seems the government has carried right on leaving the destitute to rot in the gutter. What about people who are homeless? People who can only afford to live in trailers? People who can't buy top of the line kits or special showers to decontaminate themselves? I always thought Grant's estimation of how many people this extremely virulent zombie virus killed off was very low, and this proves it. In this world, the poor wouldn't stand a chance. And what about countries with huge populations, what about the poor in countries like that? What happens to China or India?...well, India, it turns out, was lost to the zombies. It's okay though! It appears that most people got out just fine somehow even though they were completely unprepared for this. It was only like a week (I thought this shit went on for five years, Grant) and then tons of people were evacuated and the countries surrounding India generously allowed those refugees to move in, without them even needing any kind of permit or anything. Even the countries that hate India. Even though that's some of the dumbest shit you can do during a pandemic. I wonder how much it cost to evacuate, test, decontaminate, transfer, test, and decontaminate (again) that many people. Or was this still during Generous Time, when trolls on the Internet ceased to exist and armies aided other countries in need despite their governments trying to deny that the apocalypse was even happening?The question, really, is does this all make so little sense, or is it just completely unclear? I'm afraid the answer is probably: both.OMIGOD STOP IT. My husband keeps pointing out even more nonsensical shit, like how the voice activation stuff basically disappears between Feed and Deadline and why the hell aren't all their phones voice activated anyway. ARGH.You Fail Meteorology Forever: What's a zombie novel without tropical storms that can travel cross-country and wind-surfing mosquitoes, anyway? So basically towards the end of the novel there's a huge storm and another Rising. Supposedly, this Rising was caused by mosquitoes blown in from Cuba (I guess we're supposed to ignore the fact that mosquitoes shouldn't be able to carry Kellis-Amberlee) during the storm. Shaun finds out that this sort of thing happened before, when a storm blew mosquitoes carrying yellow fever from Cuba into Memphis, in the year 1858. Well, right away that's problematic, because that outbreak happened in 1878. My suggestion to Grant would be to hire someone whose sole job it is to check her dates in her books, because apparently she and everyone else who looks at them can't get a date right to save their lives. In my curious searching for information on this event, I also saw no mention of it happening because a tropical storm blew mosquitoes over from Cuba. (I'm not sure mosquitoes could or would fly in weather that unpleasant, and I didn't see anything anywhere about storms blowing mosquitoes from one country to another. It's true that mosquito numbers go up after tropical storms and hurricanes, but that's due to a confluence of how they breed and their preference for wet weather, not because they go wind-surfing. And it's true. One summer in Denmark with my then-fiance, it rained a ton. We didn't have mosquitoes so much as house guests and it was not cool.) Rather, it came from incoming Cuban immigrants, passed through via New Orleans, and came to Memphis via a steamboat worker who escaped his quarantined steamboat. The wet summer would have increased the number of mosquitoes, spreading the yellow fever really fast. The idea of the tropical storm appears to have come from a single book, which I've seen take hits for its unscientific reporting, so perhaps Grant should work from more sources next time.Regardless of whether wind-surfing mosquitoes caused the 1878 outbreak, Grant's meteorology is still completely jacked up. A tropical storm made landfall in Florida, passed through Florida, then proceeded to chase our uninteresting asshats intrepid heroes from Tennessee to California? WUT. Look, this is how tropical storms and hurricanes, in very basic terms, work: They travel across the ocean, where the right confluence of wind and water makes them more powerful, so they go from tropical storms to hurricanes. Of course, how powerful they get varies, but what's important to understand is that its the wind and water that give these storms their energy. When they hit landfall, the energy begins draining out of them, and they can only continue by hooking back out to sea or going up the east coast and adapting to the different conditions. On land, they will die, and the less powerful they are, the quicker that happens. (This is why Katrina and Rita didn't do even more damage than they did.) How does a tropical storm--basically the larval stage of a hurricane--travel through the entirety of Florida (it would pretty much have to, since it passed through Cuba), to Tennessee, all along the country, past the bleeding Rockies, and into California? Because it doesn't stop raining before then, and there's no mention of the storm breaking up into separate systems. Tropical storms just don't work like that. They can't. And if you look at the statistics, you'll see that the longest lasting and farthest traveling hurricanes had paths that were mostly over the ocean, and even the ones that maintained energy on land for a decent amount of time started as Category 4s. But we couldn't have it happen the more likely way, because that wouldn't cause a big dramatic Rising all over the place, would it? Oh yeah, also storm season is later in the year than June.And just how many mosquitoes did this storm blow in, anyway? How come they made landfall in Florida, bit some peeps, then went right on wind-surfing? There were outbreaks in numerous cities, some of them very far from Florida. Even with a wind behind them, there's a limit to how far mosquitoes can fly. From Cuba all the way to California? Seems a bit of a stretch, especially when they could just colonize the Everglades and live happily ever after. At the least, you've got to wonder how they crossed the Rockies. I mean, maybe they didn't, but Grant is so utterly unclear about what really happened. How come we can get all the specifics of Yet Another KA Test, but not the stuff that's actually, you know, important?Incidentally, the idea of a Flordian outside taking in the recycling during a tropical storm is ludicrous. Someone ought to take Grant to a grocery store in Florida next time a meteorologists gets even remotely twitchy about the idea that there might be a storm coming. It's pretty nuts.The Tinfoil Hat Brigade:Generally, I'm not down with calling someone stupid because they like a book I hate, no matter how asinine I might feel said book is. I doubt that will ever change. But I do think you've got to be a much more credulous individual than I am to go for this global conspiracy stuff. Our first big GASP moment is supposed to come when Kelly reveals the information she faked her death to protect: That people with reservoir conditions (like George's Retinal KA) are dying faster than they should. Incidentally, there's no context for that "should". How much "should" they be dying? What's normal? I didn't feel like it was gone into very well. And even though I could already see what was taking shape here, I couldn't help thinking: Is it really supposed to be surprising that people with a live version of the virus in some part of their body die more often? However, this was shocking enough to Shaun to start him on some righteous crusade for information. All right then.So Kelly explains about scientists in secret laboratories doing research that's outside regulations (which is lolarious for so many reasons) and Shaun decides he wants to visit one. I'm not sure about his logic here, but whatever. We go to meet Dr. Abbey and find Big Gasps numbers two and three. It's revealed that research into the subject has revealed that reservoir conditions might be the result of the body adapting to the virus, and in fact some two out of every ten-thousand people with reservoir conditions will recover from amplification. Two out of every ten-thousand. Not five-hundred out of every thousand or fifteen out of every thirty. An absolutely minuscule number. As Kelly points out, this would be dangerous information to release to the public. If people refused to do the right thing when their loved ones amplify, it could potentially mean another Rising. Think about it: Person amplifies, family refuses to kill them, person zombifies their entire family, wakes up to find family turned into zombies. The potential for disaster is HUGE, but Shaun goes all "Argh teh ebil PTB are keeping horrible horrible secrets from everyone noooooooesssss!" Then Dr. Abbey reveals her own research: She's made her dog immune to Kellis-Amberlee. You see, since anything under 40 pounds can't amplify, she's been exposing puppies to live virus. Her dog got sick, recovered, and developed a reservoir condition. She did this five times, giving the dog five reservoir conditions, and lo, doggy is immune to KA. Infertile, too, but hey, results are all that matter, right? So potentially if you expose a small child or something under forty pounds to KA enough times, they'll develop immunity. Hey, guess now we know where that contrivance came from! Incidentally, Dr. Abbey never does answer Kelly's question about just how many puppies she went through before achieving success. Dr. Abbey doesn't tell anyone this because--actually, I'm not entirely sure. But it too is dangerous information, because people could start exposing their small children to KA and if doc went through a ton of puppies, how many children would die? Of course, Shaun has the same "people have a right to know!" reaction to this too. WTF. What has happened to us as a people? How have we gotten it into our heads that people have a right to know everything and anything, regardless of whether they're capable of administering it responsibly? And this is half-finished medical research, to boot. Don't you remember what happened the last time irresponsible douchecanoes unleashed half-finished medical research on this world? Here, let me spell it out for you:Z-O-M-B-I-E-S!This news is apparently so Big Gasp worthy that it causes one scientist to shoot himself in the head, and the bad guys to zombify and level an entire city, and also loose zombies in their own facility, in order to keep it quiet. Because if you have a impossible global conspiracy, the best way to keep it quiet is to be extremely conspicuous.