I finally finished DEADLINE by Mira Grant aka Seanan McGuire last night, after forcing myself to put it down multiple times so I could spread out the experience, especially since it’s a terrific book to read at the gym. And after the gym last night, book in hand, I walked out honestly afraid that the world had changed on me between that moment and the moment I’d gone inside; now it was full of Kellis-Amberlee victims, of which I’d be one any moment now, too.  I haven’t felt like that since I read my first Dean Koontz novel at my grandma’s house when I was seventeen years old and had to sleep the next three nights with my Bible.

What works in this book are several things that didn’t quite work for me in the first of the trilogy, FEED (as much as I enjoyed it regardless). The characters’ relationships evolve (not all, but enough to keep me happy; also, they’re not sexless! Hurray! I was thrilled by how those particular events unfolded). The logistics of getting from one place to another, of security details, have a point; they seamlessly tie into the drama. Best of all, that drama is sustained – not only sustained, but kicked in the head and thrown out the window. There were a few places where my eyes crossed a little when the repetition kicked in, but not much in comparison to its predecessor, and I can handle a few.

A few gripes: the reader is constantly being reminded that Shaun is crazy, which I not only disagreed with, as loss causes people to develop unusual coping methods, I got excruciatingly tired of hearing about it, repeatedly. Shaun’s voice is a little too similar to George’s. And coming up on the climax, Shaun and his gang made a decision to go somewhere that made me think, “really?” I believe Grant was trying to make the point that they had no other options, which is great, but what they were going to do when they got there wasn’t clear enough for me. But those are tiny nits compared to the larger scope of the work, which is tremendously effective, and not only a thrilling ride, but a lesson in how to abuse your main character: you throw every single curve ball at them there is, and the reader will love you forever.

It’s the scope of the work, too, that impressed me. Grant has organically written in each stage, and as one thing is uncovered, another crisis emerges; it’s masterfully handled, and I didn’t see the end coming (although a more intuitive person might; I’m a little slow when it comes to predicting things). And while I may not ever write a book like this one, in an action/thriller/horror/near future genre, this is a valuable lesson for me.

I can’t wait for BLACKOUT.