Mark Reads ‘San Diego 2014’: Part IV

In the fourth and the final part of San Diego 2014, the end arrives. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish the Newsflesh series.

Part IV: Everything Must Go

I think it’s fitting that the final piece of the Newsflesh trilogy that I read is titled “Everything Must Go.” I’m sad to leave this world and these characters, but it’s fascinating that I get to end this journey at the very beginning. Not only do I get a sad, bittersweet portrait of the heroic actions at the 2014 Comic-Con, but I’m left with a reminder of why it was important that the After the End Times team pursued the truth. Because without information, people die and they suffer.

  • “…they’re going to lose what little serenity they had left.” I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
  • I know I said that I was preparing myself for the worst. And I really was. I just didn’t think that SIGRID WOULD GET ELLE’S EMAIL. NO. WHY DID YOU JUST DRIVE THE KNIFE DEEPER INTO MY HEART. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME. Because what does Elle say to her girlfriend/partner? How do you properly communicate that certain death is coming at the hands of a hoard of zombies? How do you explain why you wrote a message like that? So Elle lies, and it destroys her. “I’m coming home. I promise,” she tells Sigrid, but then turns to Patty, admitting that she did not know she had the capacity to blatantly lie to someone she cares about so much. It’s a horrifying moment, one that disturbs me more than any of the violence of the gore.
  • HOLY SHIT, THERE’S AN ENTIRE PORTION OF THIS NARRATED BY ZOMBIE!KELLY. I didn’t realize until this segment that I needed this in my life. There was zombie dog narration in Countdown, but I love the detached tone Grant uses here. It helps build the horror of the end of this novella.
  • More so than the rest of Newsflesh, San Diego 2014 really feels like Mira Grant is going for straight-up, visceral horror, and by gods, she’s great at it. When that doom drops on these characters, it is relentless, and it is scary.
  • Unless you’ve actually been on the grounds of the San Diego Convention Center, it might seem strange that it could take so long to cross a single exhibition hall. Y’all, look at this Google search of the hall. THE PLACE IS SO FUCKING HUGE. Imagine something that size jammed full of people, zombies, and makeshift fortresses. So I found it entirely realistic that Mira Grant accounted for all of this as she narrated movement. This is not something that would take ten minutes to do.
  • As I said in the introduction, one of the reasons that this went so badly was that the people inside Comic-Con lacked information. Stuart had no idea how Kellis-Amberlee worked, let alone what it was, so he had no idea that he’d doomed them all anyway just by entering that set. However, this can be take one step further if you think about what happens when these people are given information. Lorelei is the one to tell her father that they’re going to bomb the Convention Center (OH MY GOD I WAS RIGHT), and the Browncoats pass along this information to others. It allows these people to make an informed decision: They will not take this virus out into the world where it can infect other people. Initially, though, the Browncoats try to find an escape route, believing that they can get out of this death trap. Oh no, they had hope for a moment.
  • I am 10000000000% not okay with the death of Lesley and Unis. I will never be okay with this, and it will traumatize me forever. Oh my god, how? How could you craft something so awful? I am in pain.
  • That also goes for the fact that Lorelei has a recording of her family’s last moments. Grant brilliant segues Mahir’s interview back into third person narration of the event, and it is goddamn chilling. How could you ever get rid of something like this? It haunts Lorelei, but at the same time, that’s intentional. She wants to keep those last moments close by. I don’t think that I could ever get rid of that DVD either.
  • “Elle Riley died bravely, and when she died, she died alone.” I am going to need you to just stop doing this to me, Mira Grant. You need to stop right fucking now.
  • Of course, right after this, Matthew runs into the Browncoats. His wife was just eaten. And he tells them that the infection is in the blood, that there’s no hope of escaping Comic-Con without making things worse for the people outside, and the Browncoats just have this moment. It’s sad. It’s really sad, but that’s part of their heroism. The last stand of the California Browncoats is not some epic fight against an endless zombie hoard. No, it’s the heroism of knowing when your actions will harm other people, of sacrificing yourself to the inevitable bomb blast that will wipe you out of existence. Lorelei’s friends and family died singing, asserting their freedom, knowing that one of their own might make it to the end.
  • Excuse me, that’s my heart breaking again.
  • But that’s what is so important about this novella: It proves that the layers to a story matter, which is inherently the point of Newsflesh, too. There is more to the truth than what we are told, and we should seek out that information to make better decisions. That’s what these characters did. Kelly chose to stay behind. Elle chose to save her new friends. Matt chose to tell the Browncoats about the infection. And the Browncoats chose their own deaths over a possible escape.

Don’t forget that I will be holding a series-ending Newsflesh Q&A that starts at 9am PDT on Friday. You can ask me anything regarding this incredible experience. I often use these as ways to wax poetically about the whole series, and I’ll be online all day to have shenanigans-filled fun with y’all. But it must be said that I am very grateful for all of you who have read along, commented, picked up this trilogy for the first time, and made this such a memorable event for me. Thanks to Sunil/spectralbovine for getting me to put this on my schedule in the first place; to the many characters in the book who sponsored videos (hello to Rick and Lisa and Dr. Joseph Shoji!!!); to everyone else who bought a video to watch me suffer; and to Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire for being a lovely friend and human being who I am honored to know at all.

Friday, I start John Dies at the End to replace this series. I AM UNPREPARED, I’m guessing, despite that apparently John dies at the end of the book? Whatever.

Mark Links Stuff

- The Mark Does Stuff online store has been redesigned!!!!
- The Mark Does Stuff Summer Tour is happening soon! Check out the posted dates, suggest new ones, help bring me to YOUR TOWN.
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
- 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: $24.99 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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