Blackout (Newsflesh #3): review

May 23, 2012 2012, 5 star books, crossover adult title, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, mature themes, mira grant, sci fi or futuristic, undead, Wendy 66

BLACKOUT by Mira Grant (Newsflesh #3) Feed Seanan

Blackout (Newsflesh #3)
by Mira Grant

This review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven’t read the first two books in the series.

Forget everything you ever assumed about science fiction novels or zombie thrillers: the Newsflesh trilogy defies all expectations. The story that began with a turbulent political campaign in a post-apocalyptic Feed escalates here as the blogger journalists from After the End of Times continue their quest to uncover the truth behind the deadly Kellis-Amberlee virus that has decimated civilization–one that is now mutating and spreading faster than ever before. The breakneck action and intrigue in Blackout is intense as a dangerous rescue mission, disease-carrying mosquitoes, zombie bears, tangled family drama, and a mysterious patient known as Subject 7B all complicate what is already hell on earth.

It’s funny that my favorite zombie series actually has the least amount of zombie action in it, but Newsflesh hasn’t ever been about the undead anyway–it’s about the human response to it. As with The Reapers Are the Angels and Warm Bodies, this series is fascinating to me because it explores the idea of personal integrity within extreme circumstances. What would you do when the world ends? If you’re Shaun and Georgia Mason, adopted siblings whose closeness forms an unbreakable team, you lead your fellow bloggers into an unrelenting search for truth–no matter what the cost. Or at least, that’s how their story began. But now that the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been and those they love most are at risk, the focus has shifted to a very human need to hold onto the connections that matter most.

Blackout seamlessly combines medical thriller, political intrigue, and pulse-pounding action sequences with unforgettable human drama. How you feel about this series will very much depend on how you feel about the characters in general–if you love the Masons, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, and Maggie, you’ll most likely have a fantastic time with Newsflesh. It doesn’t mean the characters are perfect, of course; Shaun in particular is mourning a huge loss, and his reckless, desperate behavior in the second book caused a lot of criticism from a lot of readers. For me, I felt his pain so keenly, however, that his torment became mine–and I understood, too, the unconventional, defiant ways in which he grasped for some semblance of happiness as the world around him was destroyed. In books and in real life, I respond very strongly to loyalty, honesty, and the determination to do what’s right. Shaun and Georgia, as well as their superbly realized supporting cast, embody those traits in a big way. Because they also are slammed with unbelievable suffering throughout these books that require a brutal amount of self-sacrifice, it isn’t any wonder that I feel such fiercely protective love for them, as well as for the ideals they represent. 

The author’s writing gets better and better in each book, with well-researched scientific dilemmas and brilliant recaps that engage the reader without resorting to long info-dumps. Her brisk, matter-of-fact style of writing suits the story perfectly, and the sophisticated plot is exceptionally well-paced, with shifts from furious action to moments of stark stillness and contemplation handled beautifully. Whether we’re getting worked up over red herrings, watching someone facing her own mortality, or respectfully acknowledging fallen comrades, the emotional pitch throughout the book felt utterly right, which is something that is very hard to pull off when there are so many ethical issues at stake.

I don’t know that I’ve ever read another series where the emotion it evoked was so intense–Feed left me crying so hard I could hardly see the keyboard, Deadline had me literally whimpering with pain in the middle of the night, and Blackout made me want to scream with excitement and agony and worry all at once. If you’d told me that a science fiction trilogy with zombies could be so searingly emotional or feel so incredibly personal, I’d have told you it was impossible. And I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. I know most true fans of this series will race through the pages just like I did, with the same urgency and dread and excitement.

While I’m devastated that this particular story is over (although there are two more Newsflesh novellas coming this year) and I dearly wish they could all turn into zombies so this story could live on forever, I’m happy with the way the story ended. I’m sure Mira Grant’s new forthcoming novels Parasitology and Symbiogenesis will be absolutely spectacular.

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

P.S. For more proof of the power of Mira Grant’s writing, read the alternate ending to FEED below, Fed, which is ONLY for those who have already read the first book. Holy frak, that woman is an evil genius.

66 Responses to “Blackout (Newsflesh #3): review”

  1. Ems

    I hadn’t heard of this series before, but you can bet that I’m putting it on my TBR list now. It looks fantastic, and I don’t like zombies all that much! You’ve sold me. :)

  2. The Teen Book Guru

    What a great review, Wendy!! I still have to read Feed, but after that I am so going to pick this one up!! Thanks for the fab review, sweets! <3 A lot of people say that it's kind of like Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan...? If it is, then BOY, am I going to love it!! <3

  3. Emily

    This boooooook. Wendy, seriously. I think I died ten times over as reading. I love your review! I can’t wait for what “Mira” has in store for us next! Woo!

    Ed and Em’s Reviews

  4. Bookie Bee

    Great review!! Its odd that I’ve never even heard of this book! Just teaches me to keep looking around for good books rather than going with the hype!
    Thanks to you, have added this to my TBR. Sounds amazing!!

  5. Ginny

    Ah Mira Grant. Oh how I love thee. I just picked this book up today after wandering around forever trying to find it! Can’t wait to start it :D

  6. Vivien

    You have no clue how bloody excited I am for this series. I even purchased signed copies of the series because I absolutely love this author. One of my favorite zombie series of all time. She is just pure genius!!!! I’m still waiting on my copies to come in the mail…the wait is pure torture!!

    You made me anticipate this one even more :)

  7. Two Cups Of Inspiration

    Oh my,Wendy!! This review has to be one of the best. It makes me want to read this series so much. You really do write the most beautiful reviews! <3
    – Dianna

  8. Book Sake

    I’ve read all of your reviews on this series and have been wanting to read them more and more after each review. Going to make sure it’s on my TBR list!

    – Jessica @ Book Sake

  9. Sarah (saz101)

    Oh my GOODNESS, Wendy! A friend of mine read these books last year, and I remember being intrigued by the names of the books, if nothing else… but… well.. YOUR REVIEW!!!

    “but Newsflesh hasn’t ever been about the undead anyway–it’s about the human response to it.”

    AAAAAH! THIS IS WHAT HAS HOOKED ME! I seriously don’t say this enough, but you write the most brilliant, intelligent thoughtful reviews. I love it ♥

  10. Vegan YA Nerds

    This is one of those series that I’m sure I heard about but I am not a big zombie-fan so I passed but now that you say it’s more about how people react to these sort of situations, I definitely want to read them, especially because you reacted so strongly!

  11. Joyous Reads

    I just started Feed and I’ve got to say that Shaun is killing me already – in an annoying little brother kind of way. I’m dying to read more.

    Wonderful review, Ms Wendy :)

  12. Sam

    It’s always amazing when a book (and its series) draws such a great emotional response from you. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been blown away by these books. And me being me… I still haven’t read them yet. I know, I know! I will have to start them soon. But after all this praise, I can’t wait. Awesome review, Wendy.

    Also, thanks for the sweet comment on my blog. It was nice to step back from the commitments for a while and re-energise myself. I’m glad to be back now!

    • Wendy Darling

      I’ve cried harder over this series than any other–it’s crazy!

      I’m glad to see you’re back, Sam. I am still struggling to be around, to be honest. There have been a lot of disheartening blog and review problems lately, and it’s hard to stay as engaged as I usually am. :( I keep hoping I’ll get over it soon, though, or just grow thicker skin.

  13. Jenny

    Wow, this series sounds amazing! I wouldn’t have thought a zombie story would have been quite so emotional either, but clearly this one is brilliant and ensures you’re invested in every aspect of the story. This series is completely new to me, so glad I came and read this review Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      “Brilliant” is an appropriate way to describe this series, Jenny. And the amount of tears I’ve shed for these books could fill a bathtub, hah. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. starryeyedjen

    Wow! All five stars? How have I not started this series yet?!? I LOVE zombies!!! Amazing review, Wendy! Once again, you’ve made me reconsider what I was going to read next, but what else is new? :P

    • Wendy Darling

      I had no idea you were a fellow zombie lover, Jen! PLEASE give these books a try sometime, it’s my absolute favorite series featuring the undead. :D Fair warning that the first one is a little slow in the middle, but if you can get past that, it’s non-stop action (and gut-punching emotion) from there on out.

  15. readingdate

    Welcome back, Wendy :)
    You make this series sound so amazing! Even though I’m a zombie novice it sounds like this series is not to be missed. I bought the first two books (probably because of your reviews) but still haven’t had a chance to read them. I’ll have to remedy that soon so I can catch up to the finale! Excellent spoiler free review as always.

    • Wendy Darling

      Aw, thanks Lucy! I was pretty much a zombie novice when I started this series too, so don’t let that stop you. :) I will be stalking your updates when you get around to staring it!

  16. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    I’ve heard of Feed, but I didn’t realize they it was a series. I’m not a big fan of zombie books, but this sounds good. I love that it’s more about the human response in a crisis. Maybe I’ll give it a try.
    Great review, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s only one of the best post-apocalyptic series ever! :D I was just saying on the comment above that I never read zombie books until I discovered this particular trilogy, Andrea. If you decide to try them out, I’d love to know what you think of them. :)

  17. Bookworm1858

    I’m not a big fan of zombie stories so I think that is why I didn’t try the first book. However now that the trilogy is complete and it comes with rave recommendations from you (a blogger I wholeheartedly trust and respect), it might be time to pick this up. I definitely want to keep an open mind about the zombie aspect and just be ready for excellent writing and characterization that makes me feel.

    • Wendy Darling

      Funnily enough, I never thought of myself as a zombie person either, Bookworm! It was the first book in this series that changed my mind about the genre. I’m so glad you’re keeping an open mind about the series, and I hope you have a good experience if/when you get around to reading it.

  18. ashelynn hetland

    ooh, great review, dear! I have the first book marked “to-read” on Goodreads, but your review totally just made me want to run out and get the first one! I’ve heard lots of great things about this series, so I hope I love it when I get it! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      You enjoyed PARTIALS, didn’t you Ashelynn? This series has a somewhat similar feel to that book in some ways, although these are obviously more adult in content. I’d love to know what you think of them.

  19. Savannah Valdez

    ZOMG! I must get! Want now! I love zombies book and this series might just give me what I need! Loved the review Wendy :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohhh, Savannah! I hope you’ll give this a try sometime soon. It’s such an awesome series, and I know you like books that provoke emotional responses just like I do.

  20. Mimi Valentine

    For the longest time, I never heard anything about this series, but now it’s like an explosion of positivity for them — and your review is that final must-go-get-this-ASAP-ohmygoodness straw! This sounds AMAZING. After reading This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, I’m really in the mood for a non-zombie zombie book and this one sounds perfect!

    AMAZING review, Wendy! If my library doesn’t have this series in stock, I’m going to have to write a letter for them to get them — or actually, I think I might have to buy them for myself! ;) <3

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yes, this is a very non-zombie zombie book, Mimi. :) If you liked what you found when you read THIS IS NOT A TEST, there’s a good chance you might enjoy this series, too. I feel like I wave the banner for this series so much it annoys all my friends, hah, but believe me–for readers who love this series, it will practically kill you with its awesomeness.

  21. Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads

    I’ve never heard about these books before and shame on me!! cuz you make this one sounds totallly “spectacular’!! Holy cow, Im heading to GR asap to add these books to my list!!! thnx for sharing sweetheart <3 <3 muah!! if it werent for you, I would have never heard about these books before @_@

    • Wendy Darling

      Sweetie, you will LOVE Shaun, who is such a smart-mouthed character but his heart is breaking. The first book is a little slow in parts, but holy cow–if you can get into it, this series will you so hard. The second and third books are pretty much non-stop action!

  22. Shooting Stars Mag

    Wow, sounds amazing. I really want to read Feed. It’s been on my radar for FOREVER now. I really need to get on it, I guess. I think it’s cool that the characters are bloggers…of course!! but I’m curious to see how all these genres blend together, and i love character-focused novels.


    • Wendy Darling

      Oh please please give FEED a shot, Lauren! This series isn’t for everybody, but if you like the author’s style of writing, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be just as rabid a fan as the rest of us. :D Fair warning that the first book is a little dry in the middle, so just try to push through that part if you can!

  23. Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings

    Hi Wendy! Welcome back, I know you were missed. I just grabbed my copy of Deadline. After all Maja’s gushing I have to start this series soon. After reading your review sounds like I had better prepare myself for an emotional roller coaster. I had no idea that Mira and Seanan were the same person I also have a copy of Discount Armageddon that I am dying to check out!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hi Heidi! Thanks, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by things and had to take a bit of a break, but I’m trying to ease back into blogging and GoodReads. I’m fairly sure you’ll enjoy this series, so I look forward to stalking your updates when you get around to it!

  24. Melliane

    wow I think I really need to read this series to know how it is. I love her October daye series and I also have discount armageddon to read, well now I need to had the first one of this series lol. Great review Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Melliane, how about you read Newsflesh and I’ll read Toby Daye? And we’ll both read DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON! ;) Thanks for stopping by, m’love.

    • Melliane

      deal! you really need to try the series! I’ll try to get the first one. I hope I”ll enjoy it as well, it sounds so different.

  25. FABR Steph

    A 5 star review for a book that I haven’t even heard of. I love it. I will have to check this one out. Thanks for the great review, Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      You read a lot of adult books too, Steph, so I hope you’ll have a good experience with this series if you try it out! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  26. Sarahbotbonkers

    Ah, your review Wendy! I cannot wait to read Blackout. And thank you so much for writing a spoiler-free review. Amazing! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      SARAH! I hope you get your hands on this soon, my fellow Newsflesh devotee!

      And my pleasure. I enjoy the challenge of writing spoiler-free reviews, especially since I know how frustrating it is when you can’t read something you really want to.

  27. elena

    I’m totally going to rec this series to my co-blogger, she loves zombies and this seems up her speed! I love that you say the writing gets better which each books, I hate it when it loses steam. These books sound intense and mind-blowing!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, good! Let me know if she enjoys it. The second book is probably my favorite of the series (and the best “middle book” of all time), but I do think the writing has become more and more polished and has greater impact with each book. “Intense and mind-blowing” is the perfect description!

  28. Missie, The Unread Reader

    WD, Hi. I tried following The Reapers Are the Angels link to check out your review, but it’s not correct. Still found the review, just thought you’d like to know. :)

  29. Amy

    I have wanted to read this series for a while, but now I NEED to. They sound like such amazing books. I love it when books can bring out such a range of emotions.

    • Wendy Darling

      The ugly cry comes out for this series, Amy. As you read the first book, you’ll probably think, “what, really?” And then you’ll hit a certain point and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Hope you get a chance to read it soon!

  30. Rachel

    I cannot wait to read these books one right after another! I’m so excited to read these. As soon as I get a hole in my schedule, I picking this up. Excellent review. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I KNOW you’d love Shaun, Rachel. I’m not sure how you’d feel about the series as a whole, but I think if you can push past some of the drier parts of FEED, I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time with it! :) You know I will be stalk stalk stalking you, hah.

  31. A Canadian Girl

    How have I never heard about this series, especially if it’s so emotionally wrenching. I’ll have to check it out particularly because the scientific aspect sounds well researched and it’s a zombie series without a lot of zombies (so I’m assuming it’s not very gory then).

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh man–I love this series so much, Z. It’s written for adults but the voice is very youthful, so it has a lot of crossover appeal. I hope you get a chance to try it out, there are zombies in it, but it’s really not gory at all.

  32. Christina

    YES! I support this review wholeheartedly! I totally agree with everything you said about the series. When I read some reviews, I can see that people are making valid points, but they’re just not my reaction to the books.

    I’ve seen Shaun getting a lot of maligning for not being Georgia, but I loved Deadline, even though I was worried about his perspective when I started.

    Mira Grant is an evil genius! I totally second you on that!

    • Wendy Darling

      I know exactly what you mean, Christina! I always feel bad when I read reviews that rip Shaun apart, I always want to say “but-but-but–can’t you see how he’s SUFFERED?” Hah.

      I’m always happy to hear from another Newsflesh fan, so thanks for sharing your thoughts!