In the nineteenth chapter of Deadline, After the End Times heads to Memphis. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deadline.
It will always be endlessly fascinating (and impressive) to me that the very nature of Mira Grant’s worldbuilding lends itself to the suspense she writes so well. I know it’s probably a joke at this point that Deadline makes me endlessly nervous, but it’s true! And I know that reading this one chapter at a time, every other day, is only making it worse. I am well aware of the sheer absurdity of my reading habits. (Which has only become more apparent now that I’ve found free time to read books on my own, and I can just finish them like a normal human being. Add me on Goodreads, by the way! You can see what I’m reading.)
A simple road trip would not make me anxious, but Grant has already shown us in Feed and in this book just how dangerous it is to drive anywhere in America. I’m sure that the group who attacked the van in Feed hacked the Highway Commission’s database to track the progress of After the End Times, and that means they could do it again once they figure out what car the team is in. So, the very essence of this fictional universe creates tension, and that’s fantastic, y’all. A road trip makes me nervous because anything terrible can happen and probably will happen.
Plus, I just feel terrible for everyone involved. I was initially a bit relieved that Maggie and Alaric were staying behind because that meant they wouldn’t die in whatever disaster was at the end of this book. I’m being real with y’all. I expect awful at the end of Deadline because this shit is scary. Someone is going to die. But then Shaun reminded me in just one sentence that I shouldn’t be relieved about the personnel arrangement:
Privately, I thought she was being a little complacent – anyone who was willing to nuke a city wouldn’t hesitate before killing a pharmaceutical heir and would have the resources to make it look like an accident – but I didn’t say so.
Goddamn it, Shaun. NOW I AM PARANOID THAT MAGGIE AND ALARIC WILL GET KILLED AT THE HOUSE BECAUSE IT’S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT IT COULD HAPPEN. Fuck. Fuck!!! Now Maggie and Shaun’s goodbye is a billion times worse. And this is how Mira Grant gets me: I’m terrified of everyone dying because logistically, not one of these characters could survive whatever is happening at the Memphis CDC. I was curious about that, too. What exactly are these people going to do there?
Thankfully, Grant does address this while also detailing the route the group will take to get there. With Becks and Shaun taking six-hour shifts, Mahir, Shaun, and Dr. Kelly decide to come up with some sort of plan of approach. At the heart of this, After the End Times are going to be journalists, and that was refreshing. They couldn’t sabotage the CDC, and they couldn’t go to a single location to stop this global experiment. So the only thing left for them to do was to blow this all wide open. What else could they do? It comes down to a rather simple gameplan:
Finally, we decided to go with what he had: surprise, and the threat of going public without letting the CDC tell their side of the story.
Yes, it’s a reckless plan, and the team recognizes that. But the only weapon After the End Times has left is information. They have the reports Mahir brought, they have the raw data, and they have, more or less, proof of their claim. They can find out if the CDC is truly complicit in this, and then they can go public. Obviously, there’s going to be a snag, and I don’t know what it is. We already saw what happened the last time Shaun decided to surprise a CDC office, so I’m expecting a million times worse. Last time, Shaun didn’t have a dead CDC scientist with him.
I think my favorite part of this chapter, though, is Shaun’s conversation with Mahir. I mean, yes, I’m frightened that shit is so real that Mahir had to abandon his wife and fly to Weed, but it’s nice that he’s here and Grant is giving him a whole lot of character development in the process. You can tell that Mahir is pretty much close to being done with everything. He knows nothing will ever return to “normal,” and he tells that straight to Shaun’s face. He’s shockingly frank about everything, too, and I couldn’t believe how open he was when he talked about Georgia’s voice in Shaun’s head. I guess I never really thought about Georgia haunting Shaun, but it’s kind of a compelling thought, at least metaphorically. Mahir brings up his own wife, Nandini, and wonders if he won’t someday haunt her when he dies. The truth is that these people are so ingrained in one another’s lives that, as Mahir puts it, they’re all “hauntings waiting to happen.”
This whole conversation inspires Shaun to directly address Georgia, asking her how long he’ll have to live the way he does. How long is she going to be in his head? How long is he going to hold on to her in this way?
I think I’m here as long as you keep me here, Shaun. I think one day you’re going to look at a mountain and say “I should climb that,” or hell, look at a pretty girl and say the same thing. I think when that happens, I’ll go. She laughed a little, and added, But what do I know? I’m just the dead girl in your head.
It’s fascinating to me that this voice is so meta, but given the incestual themes brought up in chapter sixteen, I’m wondering if this really is a hint that Shaun is holding on to Georgia purely as coping mechanism, because he misses the only person he has ever truly loved. The thing is, I don’t really care to know the logistics behind a voice in Shaun’s hand. Whatever the “answer” to it is (if there even is one), it won’t change the story for me. I’m just glad Georgia is there in some way, and I’m glad that Shaun has someone to talk to.
All right, on to chapter twenty, where things will surely hurt even more than they already do.
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