In the sixth chapter of Deadline, the surviving members of the After The End Times team head to Maggie’s (incredible!) house in Northern California. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
You know, I’d understand if Shaun being the narrator isn’t your thing. This is hard to read, though for me, I appreciate the fact that his grief and his violent tendencies are right there on the surface. Lord knows I was absolutely insufferable that first month or two after my father died, and it took a long time for my emotions to settle. That being said, it’s a challenge to be in Shaun’s head because he lashes out so often. I’m hoping that this book will acknowledge how poorly he treats his team. Well, in a different way, I mean. They all seem ready to tolerate Shaun’s outbursts, his rudeness, and even his physical attacks. But how long can that last? How much time can they give him?
I don’t know, but there’s a small sliver of hope that Shaun might find a way to finally put the events of the last book behind him. The group heads far north to a town outside of Weed, California, where I have actually been! It’s a strange place, but so are a lot of the towns just south of the Oregon border. Crescent City, Yreka, Montagueâ€¦ all tiny towns just outside of gorgeous national forests or near the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. I totally believe the idea presented in this series that small town America is what truly thrived in a post-Rising world. The picture Mira Grant paints here is one of perseverance, dedication, and a whole lot intimidation. Despite that I think I’ll always live in a big, urban city, I do have a slight obsession with towns in the middle of nowhere, and Weed is one of those towns. It really is between four and five hours from the Bay, and it’s a good distance from a big metropolis in Oregon, too. I guess I like that these locations are in this series in this context because it makes this world feel so much more real than I ever could have anticipated.
I mean, Grant even thought about how the Rising would affect Disney movies. I know the line about Georgia and Shaun’s reaction to Bambi’s mom dying is meant to be funny, but seriously. They have grown up in a world where the very nature of death means something totally different to them. How many other classic films must seem strange or foreign to them? How many scenes have a totally different context now because of the Rising? God, I love shit like this in fiction.
And y’all know that I’m a big fan of horror, thrillers, and anything suspenseful. I found Shaun’s rumination of tension to be particularly applicable to the book itself. After Becks informs Shaun that they have to stop to get gas (since they didn’t prepare for a trip prior to losing Dave), I just started expecting the worst. Look how Mira Grant opened this book! I don’t believe anyone is safe, and the most mundane tasks have now all become exercises in suspense. I don’t trust anything. Oh, so they have to make a pit stop at a gas station? There are a million things that could go wrong, and I’m going to assume that all those things are going to happen. Shaun getting coffee? It’s poisoned. Dr. Kelly’s ID burned up in the explosion? The guy checking IDs and administering blood tests is going to find out who she is. The company credit card is going to be declined. Someone will get in an accident. I COULD SERIOUSLY KEEP GOING. As Shaun explains it:
Pre-Rising horror movies used to build suspense before a big scare by making the audience wait. They’d do something horrible, maybe kill off a few protagonists, and then make people sit around waiting for the next terrible thing to come along. They called it “setting up a jump scare.” Well, the drive to Weed felt exactly like that.
Yeah, well, Deadline feels exactly like this, too. Even as the group pulled into Maggie’s epic driveway, I just expected a constant wave of disaster. What has this book done to me?
I’m excited that I’m finally going to be able to meet Maggie for the first time, and what little I learn in this chapter is interesting. She’s mega-rich, but she defies expectations all the time. (Shaun suspects this is because Maggie just wants to be contrary for the sake of it.) She’s an outwardly sociable person, quick to show emotion outwardly, and creative as all hell. She also has miniature bulldogs. Oh no, no, I am going to need to play with those dogs immediately. Ugh, their wrinkly faces and their joy and their stubby tailsâ€¦ but miniaturized??? This is too much, y’all.
This chapter ends on a somber note, though. As the group greets Maggie, who assumed they were on the way after the events in Oakland, they all begin to openly grieve for Dave. My god, they really didn’t get a chance to! I hadn’t thought about that because I was so frightened that something would happen on the road. And the situation that these characters are in is truly bewildering. Hell, what do they do now? Their office is gone, they’re in the midst of a horrific conspiracy that they barely understand, they’ve got a clone doctor with them, and the chance for death is higher than ever.
It’s comforting (only slightly, I admit) that in this moment, Shaun thinks this might be a way out. He explains:
The worst part was that deep down in my heart, in the part of me that no one got to see but George, I was glad. Because if all the old shit was starting up again, that meant we were moving again. Moving toward an answer to the question that kept me from sleeping at night, and probably kept me from killing myself:
Who really killed my sister?
Real talk, y’all: I am scared to find out the answer.
EDIT: I formatted this review, put in WordPress, then turned the page in my Kindle and saw the two blog posts from Maggie. OH MY GOD.Â OH MY GOD. Jesus, this isÂ painful.
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