After a deluge of zombie movies, closely followed by a plethora of zombie novels, only to be inundated again with both, even a self-professed zombie-genre lover, such as myself, can be forgiven for believing there just may not be anything new and exciting and different left under the post-apocalyptic sun.
Enter Mira Grant with her novel Feed, the first in the Newsflesh trilogy. In a world where the zombies have risen and civilization did not, in fact, wholly collapse under the weight of panic and anarchy, bloggers have largely taken on the mantle of traditional news. Life in all its mundane glory continues as before, although now with a disproportionate number of bleach baths, retinal scans, and blood samples. And just as before the dead rose up, presidential campaigns go on.
Georgia and Shaun Mason, adopted siblings who own and operate After the End Times, their news- and danger-packed blog, win a bid to be the official news team for one of the presidential campaigns. What they expect to be their leg-up in the world of news and politics becomes much more than they agreed to when a string of “accidents” along the campaign route hint at a conspiracy that could endanger not only the election, but the country.
In Grant’s fresh and dangerous world, zombies, in all of their visceral and horrifying glory, somehow take a back seat to a gripping plot and well fleshed-out characters. That’s not to say that their role is diminished; the typical “zombies rise up and people panic” plot is left to the backstory and in the present, zombies are both everywhere and a simple fact of daily life. Every character knows what to do in the event of an outbreak: shoot first, ask questions later. There are layers and layers of procedure in dealing with zombies, and an equal amount of government bureaucracy targeted at outbreaks and crowd control. Dying is not the worst of your problems when the dead consistently reanimate.
It is that not-quite-mundane take on the undead in Feed that make this not only a stand-out novel and a 2011 Hugo Award nominee, but one of my favorite books in a long while. Grant has a crisp writing style that keeps the plot from getting bogged down while moving it along at a fast clip. She also doesn’t hesitate to tear at her reader’s heart. This is one novel where no character is safe from death. Add to all that the excitement of a political thriller and you have the makings of a whole new genre: zombie thrillers.
Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, who is best known for her October Daye series. Feed came out in 2010 and its sequel, Deadline came out this past May, 2011. The finale to the Newsflesh trilogy, Blackout, is slated for May 2012.