Mark Reads ‘Blackout’: Chapter 16

In the sixteenth chapter of Blackout, I AM REALLY EXCITED!!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Blackout.

Chapter Sixteen

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The drive from Berkeley to Seattle –

OH MY GOD S H R I E K I N G. THEY ARE GOING TO SEATTLE. THEY WILL BE WITH MAHIR AND MAGGIE. THEY WILL BE IN THE SAME CITY AS GEORGIA. I AM SO EXCITED. IT’S ALL I HAVE EVER WANTED. OH MY GOD.

I entertained the notion of ending my review right here, but I’m not that mean, despite that I still think it’s hilarious. Truthfully, though, this is another one of Mira Grant’s quietly brilliant creations. Seriously, I adore her worldbuilding, and I’m stoked that this far into the series, there’s still room for it. There aren’t any soul-crushing plot twists for the first time in a good while, so Grant allows her characters to settle into the narrative as we get hints about what’s to come.

I first noticed that Shaun’s version of Georgia is starting to get more and more bold. I can’t decide if this is because his mental state is getting worse or because his mind is actually trying to get him to stop depending on a hallucination of Georgia to cope. Throughout chapter sixteen, there are quite a few references to Shaun’s exhaustion, to an end being in sight. There are just shy of 400 pages left in Blackout, so the end isn’t actually near for me, but the appearance of this whole motif is enough to make me concerned for Shaun. Look, I don’t think most of us could have made it as far as he has, considering the circumstances. And now he’s at a point where his own hallucination is criticizing him for hallucinating. And when you take into account his conversation with Becks later in the chapter, you can tell he’s very much aware that his own mental state is plummeting, and fast. Well, and find a solution that doesn’t hurt his friends anymore either. Something is wrong, but what can he do? It’s not like he can just take a vacation from the world he’s stumbled into, you know?

And what a world that is. I loved the insight provided to me through the NPR discussion. First of all, good to know that NPR survived the zombie apocalypse! Good to know that they’re also still behind the times when it comes to the discussions that they hold on air. (I don’t mean to be crude, as I’ve been listening to NPR for years and on many a road trip when nothing else would come through. Sometimes, though, I still feel like it’s a bunch of middle-aged white men running the place who have no idea what’s going on in the world.) But the scene brings up both the severity of this Second Rising and the frustration that comes with knowing that everyone is wrong. Like, Shaun knows deep in his heart that the mosquito wave was orchestrated on purpose, and yet he’s forced to listen to people pontificate on all this nonsense without even thinking to question the very premise they’ve been fed. But that’s the problem After the End Times is facing. How the hell are they ever going to be able to tell the world the terrible truth about Kellis-Amberlee and get folks to believe them? NPR is still arguing about bat patrols. How are they going to get everyone on the same level as them?

Part of me thinks there might be some redemption from the Masons, though I admit I don’t hold out much hope for them. Even if they do rescue Alisa for ratings, there’s also the possibility that they might discover that what Becks and Shaun told them is true. Having the Masons on your side? Well, that would certainly add some credibility to their reporting. But this is such risky and wishful thinking that I don’t even really want to entertain the notion. I don’t trust the Masons, even if they did have a momentary change of heart.

And then this chapter transitions into… well, it’s surprising at the very least. When Shaun calls Mahir (and learns that the Masons were roughed up), he gets the coordinates for the location where Mahir and Maggie are hiding. And it just goes to show you just how well Grant has conveyed the details of this fictional world that the mere appearance of people walking on the sidewalk freaked me out. Um. WHAT? Where the hell are they? I mean, I understood that Seattle was probably more affluent than most big urban cities, but… WHAT? It’s like the Second Rising is nothing more than a distant news story here!

The GPS leads Becks and Shaun to the Agora, a luxury resort that – oh, hell, I’ll let Becks explain:

“You need so many zeroes in your bank account to get in that there are presidents who never stayed here.” Becks pulled her hand away. “They believe in discretion above pretty much all else.”

There are a lot of surreal images and scenes in Newsflesh, so it’s a testament to how fucked up this world is that a luxury hotel is near the top in terms of truly bizarre sequences. It’s so nice. It’s so safe. It feels wrong because these people haven’t gotten a single break in so long that I’ve just come to expect disasters everywhere.

Just… lord, y’all.

“Let’s get you cleaned up and into something that doesn’t smell like road funk, and then we can sit down for dinner and to plan our plan of attack for tomorrow.”

They’re back with Maggie and Mahir, and they’re off to meet the Monkey the next day. FINALLY, SOMETHING GOOD IS HAPPENING. Oh, I’m so excited.

Mark Links Stuff

– Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
– Commissions are still open while I am on tour! There may be a day or two delay to get them done, but I am accepting them graciously to help fund my tour!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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