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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

Deadline - Mira Grant Three and a half stars, rounding down for problems in pace and focus. Overall, I had mixed reactions to this book, and felt Feed was much better. Problems in plotting became quite obvious in this book, and with less horror and action to create tension, pacing suffered. The science started to go from a thought out disease to more deus ex machina used to push the plot along, and became more and more outlandish. I also found the duel cliffhanger endings troublesome and annoying. Nevertheless, something about Grant's writing keeps me involved and reading--I think partly because her world vision is fascinating. I find the tone and voice of her characters compelling; it's written in a serious style with only mild tongue-in cheek observations from the narrator, and her inclusions of updates from blogs or feeds helps to convey earnestness of the characters and their cause.I enjoyed the seeing the return of some of the Feed characters, and more detail on their lives. However, Grant continues to rely upon the exceptional to people her story and provide the method for overcoming obstacles. In Feed, Buffy was computer/tech espionage genius, and in Deadline, Maggie's access to unlimited funds and an almost impenetrable fortress provides means of solving those pesky everyday problems like food and safety. Except that's what an apocalypse/zombie book should be about-- part of the interest and tension comes from the struggle for subsistence. A mad dash for a PDQ where you load up on M&Ms and booze just doesn't create the same level of fear.For horror fans, zombies are even more of a backdrop than in the first book; except for the opening segment where they are out in the field, helping a Newsie get his certifications, and initial and final escape scenes, zombies are only a backdrop. The story centers on further investigation of the conspiracies surrounding the virus. I find Shaun less sympathetic than ever, and to have George whispering in his mind is almost a relief. Immersed in grief, he frequently strikes out in anger and seems minimally able to lead his organization. Instead of actively trying to investigate the virus, he waits until further evidence of conspiracy is dropped on his doorstep. It's a character flaw more than a writing one, as Shaun has always been an Irwin, more prone to danger-seeking than investigation and analysis. The trouble is, it isn't until Kelly shows up on his doorstep that events begin to unfold. Despite a team of Newsies, Shauns main investigation technique is the time-honored hard-boiled detective "poke a stick and see what happens," only this time he's poking at the CDC. The main way this gathers information is in the level of response brought to bear upon them, and in the villain's "you've fallen into my trap" speech. It's used clumsily, and the book could have benefited from more in-between zombie or research action to distract. The mad scientist made me laugh, in a good way. I found her devotion to research, her thinking outside the box and sarcastic comments funny, and a great reflection of the twisted mindset that comes from her justified paranoia. Her inclusion was interesting and believable, and I would guess sets up a mechanism for scientific problem-solving outside the realm of the CDC. However, some of her comments implied a kind of relationship with the CDC, so I have trouble understanding why Dr. Wynne would need to use the mechanism of alternative media to share scientific data or investigate what research is occurring in other labs.The insect vector was maddening, and I felt like here is where Grant overreached herself. Is it a conspiracy novel or horror/apocalypse? I felt like in juggling both, she did neither well, and it was setting up a very ridiculous set of odds against our protagonists. While I could see it potentially happening--as scientists attempt to "control" a virus, it mutates out of control in the wild--it seems like the science in the books is capable of both too much and too little. Writing-wise, with so little of the book paying attention to zombie-fighting or survivalist strategies, the development comes out of nowhere, and wrenches us back to zombie concerns.The reservoir stuff seemed kind of challenging to me, and I didn't really get what Grant was trying to do with it, despite my own science background. I think she was implying a route for human mutualism with the virus, but it felt more like it was setting up an eventual solution to the zombie problem more than a plot point for this book. Cloning George pushed me over the edge. Definitely the middle child of a series. I'll look for the next and hope it improves to a more dramatic finale, but won't be buying it.