Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy is a refreshing take on the zombie novel. These books are recommended for anyone who loves zombies but has become tired of the standard template that most of the genre’s writers seem to follow.
Feed, the first entry in Grant’s trilogy, takes place a full generation after the dead began to rise; the protagonists, both in their early 20s, were born around the time of the initial outbreak (know as The Rising), and never knew a world without the threat of zombie attacks.
While zombies are the impetus behind the plot, they don’t take center stage like the zombies of most novels, and the book is richer for it. Any zombie novel can only have so many scenes about zombies, or else the reader would become quickly desensitized to them. The failing of most zombie stories–both books and movies–is that they fill out all the space between zombie encounters with the same tedious tasks of barricading shelters and gathering supplies, with the occasional attack from other survivors, and possibly one character dragging the other characters on an ill-fated quest to reach a child and/or spouse.
Mira Grant (pseudonym for fantasy novelist Seanan McGuire) decided to tell a story where the characters do interesting things between the zombie encounters. Though it would perhaps have less action, the books would be compelling even with the zombie scenes deleted; the characters, plot, and worldbuilding can stand on their own.
I just find it interesting that kids apparently used to cry when Bambi’s mother died. George and I both held our breaths, and then cheered when she didn’t reanimate and try to eat her son.
Feed and the subsequent books focus on a team of news bloggers who stumble upon a conspiracy revolving around the zombies that have turned most of the world’s surviving population into hermits too scared to leave the safety of their homes.
Georgia Mason, leader of the website After The End Times, blends the modern appeal of blogging with the nostalgic memory of hard hitting investigative journalists from a time when the news was about something more noble. She’s also a strong female character that’s perhaps a bit more relatable to the nerdy chick crowd than the average urban fantasy heroine; she may be good with a gun, but there’s nary a set of leather pants or a back tattoo to be seen. Her adopted brother Shaun Mason fulfills the lovable ass-kicker role well, and the cast is rounded out with the other bloggers for After The End Times.
It’s a solid read, but as I’ve attempted to demonstrate, it’s not the traditional zombie tale. If that’s what you’re after, this is one you’d be better off skipping.