“Deadline” by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2011)

Deadline
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Warning: This review contains spoilers for Feed and Deadline.

On the first day of May of 2010, Mira Grant graced the world with the first book in the Newsflesh Trilogy, Feed . . . and it was good; it was very good.  And now, on the thirty-first day of May of 2011, the long wait is over and readers get to finally enjoy the sequel, Deadline.  Once again Grant has achieved the incredible with a long story of over six hundred pages that will have you wide eyed and mouth wateringly hooked from the very first to the very last.  Middle books in trilogies are often weak compared to the strong start and captivating end, but Deadline is a worthy next installment that is as good as Feed in many ways, making it feel more like a continuation of the same book.

Shaun Mason is in a very dark place.  In a world where every person wakes up with the fear of zombies in their minds, as well as the terror of somehow amplifying at any moment, Shaun doesn’t really care anymore.  When he had to shoot his sister and kill her before she fully amplified, it was definitely a turning point in his life.  And now he has very little to live for; his sister was everything to him, and had always joked about what she would do when he was dead, because he was the risk taker.  There was no scenario for when George was killed and Shaun was left all alone.  Though there is one little light in this dark, dark tunnel and that is that Shaun still talks to his sister . . . in his head.  She’s alive and well in his brain and he talks to her, has conversations with her, even argues with her.  Fortunately, anyone else who spends time with him knows that Shaun is now pretty much crazy and they all just deal with it.

But the world must go on and Shaun has a news organization to run, along with an experienced team, he makes the decisions when he has to and lets the talented people he has working for him do what they do best., while the former daredevil who used to fly in the face of danger for the chance to get some great zombie footage is no more.  And then a member from the CDC drops into their laps with an incredible story to tell.  A story that has everything to do with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, how it might have got started, and where the CDC is on the cure.  She’s also faked her own death and appears to be off the radar, and then a devastating outbreak coincidentally happens right where Shaun and his team are currently hanging out.  Some make it out, while others are incinerated, as outbreak protocols are followed.  This event awakens the spark and drive that has been missing in Shaun for some time.  Now he has something to go on, a clue that will lead him on the trail to finding out who had his sister killed and how this virus got “accidentally” released and destroyed the world.

Deadline continues right where Feed left off, and Grant manages to keep the pace and fear and excitement going throughout, supplying plenty of horror, scifi tech, and lots of fascinating medical and virus details that add further to the story.  She also addresses the harsh reality that she created in Feed, where no one is safe from becoming the walking dead, and lives will be lost no matter what.  Readers will find Deadline a worthy addition to this fantastic trilogy that is as good as anything created by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with an ending that will leave them yearning for May of 2012 and the thrilling conclusion in Blackout.

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Originally written on May 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“Ball Peen Hammer” by Adam Rapp and George O’Connor (First Second, 2009)

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While the cover and title will certainly be misleading for some readers who look at this graphic novel for the first time, I recommend they read the inside flap for a description.  It’s not about S&M and violent sex games, but in fact a world where a sickness has wiped out a considerable amount of the population.  In the style of Children of Men, people are fighting to survive, fighting for food, and fighting to get a sample of the vaccine that will cure them of the lethal sickness.  With a harsh, rough art style that lends greatly to the dark and doomed storyline, Rapp introduces a subplot on top of all the sadness with the murdering of innocent children.  If the characters don’t comply, they will suffer for it, so what choice do they have?  Rapp does introduce some happiness with the girl depicted on the cover searching for the musician whom she fell for, but Ball Peen Hammer ends before this is possibly reconciled, leaving the reader wondering if there’ll be more or is that the bleak end of it all?

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on August 22nd, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.

“Daemon” by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 2009)

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Daniel Suarez has designed and developed enterprise software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries, as well as being an independent systems consultant; he’s also an avid gamer.  So it’s no surprise that in Daemon he has created a world and plot that involves all these facets, resulting in a fast-paced, riveting, exciting novel that is a combination of classic Michael Crichton and The Matrix.

Daemon begins with Matthew Sobol, a renowned computer programmer and video game designer, dead from cancer.  It is upon his death, when the obituary is posted online, that the dormant daemon is unleashed upon the world.  In this world – just like our own – everything is automated and computerized: banking, transportation, defense, government, patient records; there are few things remaining “off the grid.”  The daemon works fast and incredibly efficient, beginning a systematic takedown of technology and world systems, causing deaths and the collapse of companies, and a financial meltdown that is scarily similar to the current economic climate.

It’s up to Detective Sebeck and computer genius Jon Ross to try and stop the daemon somehow from destroying everything.  Then there is The Grid, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game – in the style of World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online – created by Sobol, where the daemon secretly begins recruiting the disaffected but brilliant youth who play the game as part of its efforts to bring down technology and society.

Whether you’re a gamer, a computer person, a network specialist, an Internet aficionado, or just someone who likes books about technology and possibly the end of the civilized world, Daemon is the book for you.  Expertly written by Daniel Suarez, who knows exactly what he’s talking about, Daemon is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat from page one to the very end, and waiting for the sequel, Freedom, due out in 2010.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on February 8th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Daniel Suarez check out BookBanter Episode 8.