In the fourteenth chapter of Deadline, the team reconvenes to figure out what their next move might be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
I admit that I’m worried about Shaun. Honestly, I’ve never read a book with a narrator quite like him, so I know that’s part of why I’m worried. Despite that he did have a breakthrough after the events in chapter nine, I don’t think Shaun is in a good place. I get this sense that he is on his last leg, that one tiny thing could set him off in the worst, most violent way imaginable. He’s already fragile, raw in his grief and anger, and he constantly lashes out at those around him. His friends largely accept him for this, and I don’t just mean when he talks to Georgia. Honestly, that’s the least of their concerns. They tolerate his physical presence and his sharp, mean wit, and I’m worried that enabling this is going to backfire. I think that someone might finally stand up to Shaun, and I say that because if someone doesn’t, this isn’t going to end well. There are few good things that can happen to Shaun left in this story, and seriously, I expect none of those things to happen. If someone on his team dies, or the CDC does something horrible to Shaun or his friends, who’s to say it won’t be the last straw? Who’s to say Shaun won’t do something terribly foolish and blow the whole thing? Gah, this trilogy should come with therapy, y’all. I don’t think I’ve ever worried about a main character so much!
It’s because of this that I’m wary about a relationship between Becks and Shaun. I like both characters, and they seem rather compatible with one another. But I’m concerned about Becks’s state throughout all of this. This entire “adventure” has to be taxing on her as well, and she clearly cares about Shaun. Is she also worried about where he’s headed? I’m curious as to what Georgia meant about Shaun being careful with her. What does she see that Shaun doesn’t? And this is a really strange thing to analyze. You know, since I’m talking about the perspective of a voice inside Shaun’s head. Hell, Mira Grant makes it work incredibly well, and I have no problem with the validity of internal voices. It’s actually refreshing to read a book that features such a thing, you know? I wonder, then, if Shaun really knows what Georgia is warning against, but he’s too obtuse (intentionally so) to see it.
A lot of chapter fourteen is exposition and world-building, and I’m at a point in Newsflesh where I just sit back and enjoy it. Grant does this with a purpose in mind, and I really wanted to know what the little CDC event caused in terms of news, traffic, and intrigue. Unsurprisingly, the CDC was pitching a cover story about the “unfortunate” outbreak in Portland. I’ve just come to distrust everything they do. It’s a big moment for Dr. Kelly, though, because she is clearly moving to the same team as After the End Times. Slowly, that is. The team is openly hostile to her, and I wouldn’t say she’s earned their trust either. There’s that unbearable scene where Shaun challenges her on the fact that she had previously left out information that was “too sensitive for [them],” and despite that it’s brief, it demonstrates the very thin ice Kelly is standing out. But she’s adapting and evolving throughout this, and part of that comes from the realization that her former employers really are the bad guys for the most part. Her impartiality has slipped as she’s seen more of what the CDC are capable of and what they’re willing to do to hide the truth. I imagine that part of her transformation is from guilt, but she also can’t ignore the obvious anymore. The CDC has gone to absurd lengths to prevent the information about reservoir conditions to spread. So how will she change in the future? Will she integrate herself into After The End Times? I’d like to postulate about that, except that I am TERRIFIED OF WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO HER. Like, the CDC probably outbreak-bombed Oakland and Portland, so I do not think it’s shocking at all that they’ll do whatever they can to kill Dr. Kelly after they figure out she’s still alive. That’s fucking frightening, y’all.
Ugh. I hate how unprepared I feel reading Deadline. I can’t deal with this, I swear.
It’s fascinating to me that the team also is in the business of reporting the news (well, part of the team, that is), yet they’re purposely masking what they’re actually doing. They’re holding on to news to release it at the right time. This isn’t something the team had to do when I met them at the beginning of Feed, and I think it’s a clever way for Grant to demonstrate how the stakes have changed drastically. After the End Times has to be careful about what they say or do publicly, and that includes their appearances in public. The world is recorded at all times, essentially, and that means someone ostensibly filmed Becks’s and Shaun’s escape. It means they had to take an extra long route home. It means that whatever they choose to do next, they’ve got to be particularly careful about it. There’s a lot of planning of this nature in chapter fourteen as the team details what it is they need to write about for their sites. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I have never been so entertained by people talking about the Internet. I swear to you, Mira Grant should get some kind of award based on that alone. I cannot believe I am engaged by Shaun narrating his use of a message board. This has literally never happened to me! INCREDIBLE!
The same goes for Dr. Abbey’s email. An email EXCITES ME. Bless you, Mira Grant. Of course, it’s incredibly important for the story, but still. I can’t get over it. I like Dr. Abbey (and her glorious sense of humor) quite a bit, but I don’t think we’ll ever see her again. Because of Shaun’s actions, Dr. Abbey has to disappear again. I’m glad that the text acknowledges that Shaun’s crusade has an effect on other people. It’s a mature way of dealing with the complication of this world. Just talking to Dr. Abbey at her lab is monumentally dangerous, and her email to Shaun demonstrates that.
I think the same thing is demonstrated in the final scene of chapter fourteen when Grant drops a boatload of exposition about post-Rising India into a conversation between Mahir and Shaun. I really do think this is one of the more brilliant bits of worldbuilding we’ve gotten from Grant. I appreciate the care with which she has postulated how the Rising would affect a country besides America, while also addressing how the ensuing cultural diaspora would affect those who literally did not have a home country to return to. It’s a delicate detail that Grant deals with beautifully:
A lot of people want to reclaim their heritage. They may like living where they are, but they want it to be a choice, not an exile. There are doctors and scientists in the Indian community who answer only to the government of a nation that currently doesn’t exist, pursuing research whose only motive is “get us home.” But racism doesn’t die just because the dead start walking, and there are some folks who watch the displaced communities carefully for signs that they might be “turning against us.” If Mahir did what I was asking him to do – if he went to one of the virologists who was working out of his home, rather than a government lab, and asked him to explain Dr. Abbey’s work – he was putting them both at risk of a terrorism charge.
As someone of Mexican heritage who has never been to the state his parents are from (Jalisco, Mexico), let me just confirm for you how terribly true this is. I like living here in the U.S., and I wouldn’t change that. But my heritage was taken from me through adoption (and a healthy dose of racism from my adoptive parents), and it’s a painful thing to have no real way to reclaim it. So kudos, Grant. I loved this part.
So shit can only get realer from here. Mahir will work on getting an independent reading of Dr. Abbey’s notes and findings, putting After the End Times at risk yet again. How is this going to turn out? I’m scared.
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