Recommended for: fans of zombies, pandemics Read May 2011 ★ ★ ★ 1/2
A perfect summer read.
It starts out with our heroes poking sharp sticks at zombies and a narrow escape. It’s a good way to develop interest, but the plot actually focuses on an adopted brother-sister news team, Georgia and Shaun Mason. Their careers take off when they win the chance to follow and blog about a presidential candidate as he campaigns for his party’s nomination. I thought Grant did a great job of projecting technology into the future without becoming particularly silly about it (no flying cars here); instead, we have micro-dot cameras, ear-cuff phones and instant video feeds. It’s a projection that feels mostly possible–is an ear cuff that different from an ear-clip phone? In fact, that might be my only complaint of future technology: with so much of the country devastated and compressed into tight communities, would there really be instant internet access everywhere? And I do mean everywhere, as the kits that test for zombie virus are immediately uploaded to the CDC, even outside a zombie zone, or on highways in the middle of nowhere.
I thought the main characters, Georgia and Shaun Mason were developed well (quibble–I found his name quite distracting: ‘Shaun?’ Really? “Shaun of the Dead”?? but maybe “Buffy” was as well for those raised on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”) I loved Georgia, her tone, her “don’t-touch-me” interactions, her smart strategy in growing their news-site, her willingness to have ethical code govern her practices. The political people were cardboard cutouts, but thankfully we don’t spend overmuch time with them. The parents were actually quite interesting in their weirdly dysfunctional relationship with their adoptive children and their survival mentality. The tech was largely well thought out, with zombie kits that report to the government, even if the seal is broken and not used, and virus testers built into “safe” vehicles. I imagine that Grant hit possible response to a worldwide disaster spot on–the attempt to cure, the consolidation of resources, the short term strategies. She even thought of the impact zombification would have on autopsies and forensics–now that’s a well thought-out system.
There is a potential TRIGGER WARNING for some people, as there is a very close relationship between the brother and sister. Quick flashbacks and side remarks give us a picture of emotionally distanced parents, so the children connected to the only people they could connect with in a relatively isolated situation (they grow up outside the safest zoned areas). It’s apparent that emotional distancing is how Georgia has coped with her upbringing and is how she interfaces with the world. Some people might object to the rather “emotionless” tones of the narration, but I feel Grant did well, with a tone that is quite true to Georgia’s character.
I enjoyed the pace, and the building of suspense as zombie attacks become more and more directed. The villain is a little stereotypical, coming down clearly on the side of people that kick dogs and make small babies cry, but give Grant a break–she added zombies to her political conspiracy. I’m looking forward to the next book. Three stars for keeping me up at night until bleary-eyed.