In the fourth chapter of Deadline, I am so done with plot twists at this point. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
Hey, here’s a good reason why it’s super fun to switch between two series on my sites! After the plot-twist fest that was yesterday’s Lioness Rampant chapter, I was already on shaky nerves and slightly excited about life because my god, I really do live for a good story. AND THEN THIS CHAPTER HAPPENS. My heart is racing right now, and I am on chapter FOUR of this book. FOUR!!!! What the fuck, Mira Grant? You have waited no time at all to ramp up the tension to an unbearable degree, and that was before I even got to the cliffhanger that ends chapter four.
This is seriously fantastic, and I’m so impressed with the many story threads in Deadline, many of which have nothing to do with Shaun. I mean, first of all, we have a narrator who openly talks to his dead sister outloud, a coping mechanism that his co-workers have simply accepted, but is now brought back to the forefront by Dr. Kelly’s presence in the room. Shaun has to struggle with this variable once she starts asking what the hell he’s doing, and it breaks my heart. And while Grant acknowledges through the text that Shaun’s internal voice might be uncommon, I never feel like she’s saying there’s anything wrong with Shaun. It might be strange, but his closest friends and employees accept him. They accept this is a part of him and his daily life. I don’t want to get all preachy about this, but I do want to say that this is such an awesome thing to see displayed so prominently in the book! Whether Shaun has a mental illness or is struggling with something else is essentially immaterial; what matters is how those close to him treat him. And what do they do? They accept him, full stop. That’s fucking rad, y’all.
Anyway, the question that this chapter has to address is brought up immediately:
“What are we going to do?”
Becks asked the question, but all three of my staffers were looking at me with near-identical expressions of impatient expectation on their faces.
Seriously, what do you do with this information? Shaun – aided by Georgia – is quick to tell the others that they’re going to do their jobs, and then tell the world about the job they’ve done, but damn, there sure are a lot of complications that come along with it. I love that Becks just tells Shaun to call Rick, as if calling the Vice President (!!!!! that is so cool to type!!!!!) is just a thing they can do with the information they possess. Even then, they have to deal with their own employees. As was the case before, there’s a core group who help keep After the End Times running. For this book, that’s Dave, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, Maggie, and Shaun. I think it’s smart that Dave and Shaun insist that they not tell everyone. This isn’t like what happened with Tate; there’s less evidence, the stakes are even higher, and there’s a risk of losing the information if someone decides to jump ship. Also, there’s a dead CDC doctor standing in their office.
The group then immediately shifts towards dealing with Dr. Kelly, who, upon being prodded by Becks, reveals her big secret: no one outside the CDC knew what her team was researching. And it’s really the only thing Shaun needed to hear. That conspiracy that led to the deaths of so many people in Feed is FUCKING REAL. Somehow, Tate’s bid for the Presidency is linked to the reservoir cases dying, and another wrinkle is added to Georgia’s death. What else did she die for??? I was surprised at how much Shaun was able to control himself. I mean, yes, he punches a wall and talks to his dead sister in front of Dr. Kelly, but I expected so much worse. So, after having Kelly undress to look for bugs, and sending Becks off to further search the doctor, what does Shaun do?
HE CALLS DR. JOSEPH WYNNE. Like, for real, I was already unable to deal with this chapter. I need you to know that I feel absolutely wired writing these sentences because… shit, y’all, this book has me feeling so nervous. I understood why he was doing this, but I don’t expect anything to go well. But Shaun had to know how aware Dr. Wynne was, how much complicity there was in this entire set-up, and, most importantly, if the man is sure that Kelly got out clean. Oh, this entire conversation is just a treat to read. It’s unreal. So much of it relies on what’s unsaid, and Shaun provides us with the context to understand what Dr. Wynne’s silence or his reluctance means. Shaun is able to determine that Kelly didn’t get out as cleanly as everyone hoped, and that leads Shaun in the direction he needs to go to keep everyone safe.
I should say here that I am the kind of reader (and watcher of TV/movies) that is totally fine with stories developing slowly. It doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy the experience and the reward. But I don’t know that I prefer a specific type of pacing. All this being said, this book has perhaps one of the quickest starts for any in Mark Reads history. I’m just 80-some odd pages into Deadline, and Shaun is gathering ammo, the staff is packing up the office, and they’re about to set out on a harrowing, tense “adventure” to determine just how far the government is in on this conspiracy to kill over Kellis-Amberlee. It’s a brilliant framing device for the story because it acknowledges and build directly from Feed while giving us something completely different. This fictional world has been built so delicately already, and now it’s time to see it unravel. And really, that’s the only thing I am going to expect from this. These people are not going on a saccharine road trip full of good times and happy memories. This could be the last time they ever step foot in their office, ever return to Oakland, and ever see one another in this environment.
Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?
I’m also predicting that we’ll meet the Monkey at some point. This seems like a character who is too significant to the story not to include beyond a mention. It’s clear that his talents are incredible. He was able to manipulate all publicly posted photos of Dr. Wynne’s niece so that they looked like Dr. Kelly. That’s amazing. It’s with this reassurance that the group is almost ready to leave when the building’s alarm goes off and Mahir calls Shaun. My first thought? The CDC or someone involved with the conspiracy found out about Dr. Kelly, and shit is about to go down.
“Your building’s surrounded, you’ve got no evac routes, and the civic authorities are declaring a state of general emergency through the surrounding cities!”
Well, fuck. But that seemed like overkill to me. How would a state of general emergency even be applicable to this situation? Wouldn’t the CDC or whatever government officials who were surrounding the building just break in? This didn’t make sense.
“There’s an outbreak in Oakland, Shaun. And you’re right in the fucking middle of it.”
WHAT THE FUCK. I am calling it: that outbreak was planned. Oh, Jesus, how the hell are they going to get out of this?
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