Thoughts on Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Series

I’ve had these on my “Read these next, you already own them, dummy!” shelf for quite a while.  They came highly recommended by some people whose opinions I really trust, and it was nearing Hallowe’en plus election time, so it seemed like the time was right to read a series about zombies, politics and blogging, right?

Yeah, whatever.

They weren’t terrible, don’t get me wrong.  But they kind of skirted the line.

Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire, and I’ve already talked about my issues with her stories.  The VERY BEST THING about reading her work is her insanely detailed worldbuilding.  When McGuire builds a world, that sucker stays built.  For realsies.  Even the things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense if we’re looking at them from a current perspective at least had a sense of “Well, yeah, I suppose that if this and this and this happened that would be possible.”  So there’s that.

I think my primary issue with these books stems from the fact that they’re pretty much zombie books for people who don’t like zombies.

In that, yes, there was a zombie apocalypse, and everyone is constantly on edge because of the thought of the flesh eating former humans/mammals over 40 pounds, but we rarely actually SEE (er, read) any effing zombies.

There was one moment when I was ZOMG SO EXCITED because they were going to fight a ZOMBIE BEAR, but then the story switched to another character’s PoV and we only ever heard about the zombie bear in passing.

I shouldn’t have to feel like I need to apologize for wanting zombie stories to HAVE SOME DAMN ZOMBIES.

Second major issue.  Repetitiveness.  Throughout the series, someone drinks/wishes for a Coke ONE HUNDRED THREE TIMES.  Most of the times, said Cokes were so cold they had condensation beading on the sides.  I’m not kidding and I totally counted.  In addition to the Coke fetish, everyone is constantly slapping or slamming their hands down on blood testing units (106 instances of both words) and needles “bite” flesh (27 instances).  None of the others are as prevalent as the Cokes (jesus, really 103 times?!), but it was exceptionally annoying, especially reading them all back to back.

Look, I get that everyone is testing their blood for infection constantly.  I totally do.  BUT why the hell is everyone SLAPPING THEIR PALM DOWN?  If it were me, and I was putting my hand down on a thing filled with needles, I wouldn’t be slapping a damn thing.  I’d be placing it gingerly.  Maybe that’s just me, though.

I don’t know.  It’s sounding like I totally hated these books, but I didn’t.  I found them incredibly annoying by the end (and I didn’t even cry a tiny little bit like everyone kept saying I would) but Grant’s world was compelling enough to continue reading, and overall the series gets 3 stars.

I won’t recommend them, but I won’t tell you not to read them either.

30 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Series

  1. Have you ever read the book “Dear American Airlines”? It’s one of my favorites. The main character is a failed poet-turned-translator who is waiting in O’Hare International Airport during a layover while flying to his estranged daughter’s wedding, when suddenly all flights are grounded, and he’s faced with the prospect of missing her wedding. He begins to write a letter of complaint to American Airlines, which quickly turns into a rambling account of his whole life story. The book is sometimes poignant, sometimes sweet, and almost always incredibly funny (it’s written with lots of sarcasm and cheek). I think you should read that one and review it. (please?)

    • I know it’s probably a silly thing to get upset about, but if you’re going to have people fighting a zombie bear, FUCKING SHOW ME THE ZOMBIE BEAR FIGHT.

      • I’m right there with you. Sounds like the author felt at a loss as to how to tie that external action into the internal action of the scene. Because: zombie bear! Seriously, that is a great concept and could have been an awesome fight scene.

        • There was a bit of a recap with “So then she [did this] and I [did this] and we took that zombie beard DOWN!” Which is not at all the same. Essentially, there was a zombie bear in the path, I got ALL EXCITED, turned the page and wanted to throw things because we were back across the damn country, far away from any zombie bears at all. :(

          • Ugh, my previous attempt at commenting evaporated.
            Was going to say, if a similar event had happened in the story before, I could see not giving it as much detail the second time around. But if it’s unique to the story, if not the whole genre, then why not play it up?

            • Just to show I’m not exaggerating, this is how it goes:

              “Shaun! What the fuck?”

              I didn’t answer her aloud. I just raised my hand, pointing at the shaggy hulk that was standing at the end of the dirt road. Becks turned to follow my finger, her eyes going wide.

              “Shaun. Is that… is that a bear?”

              “Yeah,” I said, not quite managing to keep the glee out of my voice. “You ever killed a zombie bear before?”

              “Can’t say as I have.”

              “Maybe we’ll be going back to use their showers after all.” I unbuckled my seat belt, moving slowly. “First one to get the headshot gets first shower.”

              “Deal,” said Becks, and grabbed her gun.

              END CHAPTER

              TWO CHAPTERS LATER

              Things I have done today that were awesome, whether or not I am currently a practicing Irwin: I shot a zombie bear in the head. Six times. Becks shot it four times, which I would gloat about, except she’s the one who managed to shoot the damn thing straight through the eye, taking it down before it could, you know, maul and devour us. The denizens of the gas station came out when they heard the shooting, loaded, as the old colloquialism goes, for bear; I don’t think they expected to actually find one.

              Indy—the lady who runs the supply depot where we encountered the bear—said it was a grizzly. So hell, maybe we just killed the last grizzly in the world. I’d feel bad about that if it hadn’t been an infected zombie bear that wanted to eat my delicious flesh.

              Damn, that was fun.

              And then a few mentions to fighting the zombie bear later in the story, but she completely bypasses all the action to tell us about it in an aside. NOT COOL.

                • Yes, agreed. And (as I’ve said repeatedly) this was one of my major problems with this series. So much of the zombie action happens off the page. I get that she’s trying to draw in people who aren’t typically zombie fans (which is what she’s done), but why should those of us that ACTUALLY LIKE ZOMBIE STORIES get the short end of the stick?

                  I’m still searching for the next good zombie read. [sigh]

      • Any book that teases a zombie bear fight and then does not deliver a zombie bear fight needs to be placed on my “never ever ever ever ever read this” shelf on GoodReads that I’m going to create just for these books. THAT IS DEPLORABLE AND CANNOT GO UNPUNISHED.

    • I second that. Those covers are kind of awesome. Too bad it sounds like that’s one of the very few awesome things about these books.

      And I have to say, I’m really having trouble getting into One Salt Sea. I really, really WANT to read further because SELKIES and MERMAIDS (the girl has a mermaid tail on the cover!) and SELKIES…but that opening cheesy sword-fight banter and Toby’s constant whining are making my eyes glaze over like a doughnut. That and the fact that I have no flipping idea what’s going on half the time (that one’s my fault for not having read the previous books), but on the other hand, the structure of back-to-back Toby-runs-into-a-character-commence-paragraph-reminding-readers-who-this-character-is-and-what-happened-to/with-them-in-previous-books moments is getting quite annoying.

      *breathe* I just want to make it to the Selkies. As you say, McGuire’s world-building — at least what I saw in In Salt-Sea Tears — is amazing! That was McGuire being awesome, not only in world-building, but also in characterization AND dialogue AND everything else!

      • I can say that if you get past the recappiness of the beginning, it does get better.

        I’m frequently annoyed by authors who feel the need to remind us of every single thing that happened in previous books because I WOULDN’T BE READING BOOK FIVE IF I HADN’T READ THE OTHERS. Er, except that’s exactly what you’re doing, isn’t it? :P

        I will say that once you get under the sea, things really start to pick up. The Luidaeg is probably my favourite character in her books, which is one of the reasons I liked In Sea-Salt Tears so much.

    • Yeah, the covers are decent, but I don’t know. I feel like lately so many people are out to write a zombie story that can appeal to anyone, but that leaves those of us who actually like zombies a bit cold.

      I loved that she went there with having larger mammals capable of amplification (that’s the term for becoming zombified in these), because that’s not something we usually see. It was kind of wasted here, though.

  2. Yeah, you bring a zombie bear in to the mix, that fucker’s gotta show up and dance. Total deal breaker.

    I applaud your indifference. Too often, it feels like reviewers/pundits/editorialists dig in their heels and insist it has to be love or hate. The simple fact is, there is a lot of spectacularly adequate things in this world, and that’s OK.

    • I read a lot of stuff I’m rather meh about. I agree that most people are stuck in a “love it or hate it” mentality, and I try not to do that. I’ve been lucky enough to read a lot of stuff I really like lately, but sometimes blah stuff slips through.

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