By Mira Grant
Published on June 1, 2011
Published by Orbit
Summary from Goodreads:
Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.
But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.
Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.
Continuing on with my pre-Blackout Newsflesh trilogy reread, this is the second book in the series, Deadline. The first time around, I initially planned to read Feed and Deadline back to back, only I was so gutted by the ending of Feed that I couldn't possibly imagine going back to the series so quickly. The very thought of it made me unfathomably sad, so I put it aside for a little while. Once I picked it up, however, I pretty much tore through the whole thing in no time at all.
The story picks up this time around with Shaun as the narrator. He brings a different attitude and perspective on the events than we would have expected from Georgia. As someone who loved Feed, it wasn't quite the same having Shaun take the lead, but he grows into his role. After all of the events of Feed, Shaun is dealing with some pretty heavy things, and is slowly coming a bit unhinged. He's angry and acts out a lot towards his friends and coworkers, in ways that set off most people's internal alarms that say 'get the heck away from this guy'. There's a lot of criticism by readers of Shaun's behavior in this book, which is understandable -- I certainly wouldn't want to be around someone who is coping so poorly with his circumstances -- but at the same time, his narrative provides an at-times heartbreaking look at grief, sanity, and brokenness.
Deadline focuses around the ever-expanding conspiracy theory that was responsible for the harrowing events of Feed, and finally Shaun has something to focus on to get him moving. Along the way, we get to know many more supporting characters who help run the After the End Times blog, including Maggie Garcia, a fiction writer and also heiress; Rebecca Atherton, an adventure-seeking Irwin who tries to fill some holes in Shaun's life; and Mahir Gowda, the long-suffering and very patient head of the Newsie division. Together, the team travels the country, infiltrates the CDC, and discovers some devastating secrets about the Kellis-Amberlee virus. When the team is on a mission, the pace is fast and furious, and the dialogue and banter is just as snappy as ever.
The science in this book was a little harder to understand -- I've read the book twice now and there are still a couple of plot points that sort of make my eyes cross, until I decide to just gloss over them and enjoy the book for what it is. Also, as in the first book, I wish there had been one more pass through with an editor who would have helped thin out some of the repetition in the narration. I understand the need to drive home certain facts so the reader knows that they're important, but there are some things that get irritating once you've read it for the hundredth time, especially if you're a reader who tends to plow through books in only a few sittings.
Deadline isn't quite as good as Feed -- it suffers from being overly complicated and from a narrator who isn't quite as strong as Georgia -- and really does feel like a middle book. It advances the plot enough to set readers up for the third book, but that's about it. Despite some small misgivings, it does stand up very well on a second read, and ends with another huge shocker that will have you wanting to delve immediately into Blackout.