It is with both excitement & trepidation that I step back into the world of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series. You see, we didn’t end on good terms.
The Newsflesh universe is one set within the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. An event that has changed the world we live in. Our lives are dictated by fear, the virus is alive in all of us & amplification is a daily threat.
The Rising (what the zombie apocalypse is referred to as) came about when scientists found cures for the common cold & cancer. The two combined to create Kellis-Amberlee, a virus that infected the entire planets mammalian life. The virus lies dormant until death where it then coverts the host into a zombie but in some cases, it can ‘go live’ expectantly. It’s one of the most dangerous zombie viruses I’ve ever read about & also one of the most exciting.
Trust is a commodity that is now earned as the world felt betrayed by the mass media’s attempts to cover up the initial outbreak.
The truth was out there…online.
The first book (Feed) introduced Georgia & Shaun Mason, a brother & sister (not blood related – very important this) online journalist team who are selected to be the press for Senator Peter Ryman’s presidential campaign. All very exciting stuff for the duo & the rest of their team. That is until they uncover a conspiracy that changes everything. It’s an incredible read & you check out our full review here.
The second part, Deadline dealt with the aftermath of the events of Feed while also progressing the story in interesting ways. It lacked the impact left by the first book but is still a fantastic story. You can read our review of it here.
Finally, Blackout looked to tie up all the loose ends which it does well. However, halfway through it throws such a curveball that it threatened to derail what had been a fantastic zombie yarn up to that point. I won’t spoil it for you but it is up there as one of the most ‘what the fuck’ moments I’ve ever read & not in a good way. You can read our review of the book here.
Which brings us to Feedback, the latest novel from Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series.
Set at the same time as Feed but from a different perspective. The perspective of the blogging team that covered the Democrat campaign. Readers of the original three stories will already know that the Democrat campaign ends in failure but how & why is what makes Feedback such an interesting read.
It’s great to be back in this world. Mira Grant has crafted an American future dominated by a virus that is unrelenting & unstoppable. She has populated it with rich, varied & interesting main characters who stand out in books filled to the brim with characters.
Feedback introduces Aislinn ‘Ash’ North & her husband Ben Ross. Ash is the star of this book with everything written from her perspective. She is an Irish immigrant who gained American citizenship by marrying Ben. Privately their marriage is a sham but both are ok with this. As it was their decision to ensure Ash could get to the US.
You see Ash is gay & in a loving relationship with another member of their journalist team, Audrey. Publicly Ash is married to Ben but also in a relationship with Audrey. Who happens to also be in a relationship with Ben. It’s all very confusing & probably unnecessary for the overall plot of the book.
The fourth & final member of their team is Mat, a gender-neutral person who really doesn’t get enough character development to flesh them out as a character.
It’s a very unique group & initially hard to take seriously. Ash has the mannerisms of Georgia Mason but the riskiness of Shaun, she is a difficult girl to like but as the story goes on, her dedication to her friends & loved ones makes her a much more relatable character.
The group are exciting & interesting, a real blend of individuals that reflect modern society. Unfortunately, the supporting cast don’t have quite the same impact with far too many forgettable characters & minor crossover roles for original Newsflesh trilogy members.
Feedback requires you to have knowledge of the Newsflesh world already. One of the most praiseworthy things about the first book was just how detailed it was. I loved the descriptive nature of the amplification process & meticulous level of detail regarding medical procedures & testing. Here, it’s just kind of skirted over. Expecting you to know all about testing kits, the danger of spilled blood etc.
It’s not a problem for regular readers unless this is the first Newsflesh book you’ve picked up. You’d probably wonder about the lack of detail & how we’ve managed to survive as a species.
On the flipside of that though, once our new team has been chosen to accompany Senator Kilburn on her race to the White House things get a little too familiar. Debates, meetings, lengthy conversations with the smartest person always seemingly several steps ahead of the rest…we’ve read it all before. It lacks the same impact & comes across as Mason-lite.
Thankfully the horror related moments are some of the best that Grant has ever written. Inventive & exciting, they are a reminder that these zombies are some of the deadliest that have ever existed. Add that there is no ‘true’ human villain & the path that this team takes is different to the Masons & what we have is damn great zombie horror. The finale falls a little flat feeling rushed as we meet human villains unlike any that Grant has written before. The only thing it could have done with is some more fleshing out to really up the tension.
Feedback is exactly what you would expect from a companion story to the original book. It’s overly familiar at times but has enough original content that makes it an exciting read. It doesn’t quite hold the attention in the same way but a unique set of main characters & ‘different’ approach to events makes it required reading for fans.
Feedback - A Newsflesh Novel (Mira Grant)