Hugo Review – Best Novel – Deadline

As I previously mentioned, I’m attempting to consume as much of the 2012 Hugo Short Listed works in order to make an informed vote.

I started with the Best Fancast category and am now on to the category of Best Novel.

This is my review of  Deadline by Mira Grant.

Note, this review is obviously subjective and most definitely biased, based on the topics and style of writing which interest and entertain me.

This review may contain SPOILERS.

Synopsis: A year after the events detailed in Feed, the crew from the After the End Times still haven’t made any further progress in breaking open the conspiracy they’d discovered. When Dr Kelly Connolly, ex CDC, flees to them with some data showing the unbelievable, they have a lead, one which the conspirators seem desperate to remove, and unworried about who they kill to do so. Can Shaun, Mahir and the other After the End Times crew survive long enough to discover what’s happening?

Plot: The plot is a fairly basic one – stay alive whilst investigating the lead which fell into their lap, and try and make sense of the data analysis. This was executed pretty much like it was on rails, and I never really got the sense things were ever in doubt, which was a little disappointing. I’m also a bit dubious that one of the crew’s particular tactics (poke it with a stick and see how it reacts) would really work the way it seemed to in the novel, although it is a very Irwin approach!

Characters: We see pretty much everything from Shaun’s perspective, and he’s extremely well written in a convincingly broken way, trying to keep going despite all the psychological damage he’s taken. Grant uses his psychological damage very well to provide insights into other characters through the process of Shaun arguing with himself about the why or how of a situation from different view points.

Scope: Deadline seems to have a narrower Scope than the previous novel, we’re already familiar with much of the world so whilst we do get occasional interesting insights into the rising and why things are the way they are (the aside about India was fascinating), it’s a lot less than us discovering the world for the first time. Instead we get a lot more medical background about the Kellis-Amberlee virus and its mutations over the years since the original rising.

Writing: The writing is good, although the ebook copy I was reading from was a bit broken, which was rather irritating (I really wish the Hugo voter packet had more epub versions for the novel category, but that’s a separate discussion). Grant’s writing was pretty easy to read and just flowed, nothing struck out at me as brilliant nor awful.

Pacing: The pacing of this book felt a bit off to me. It started out fast paced, then slowed in the middle, built up a bit again, slowed, then went to finish with a bang. I don’t know if this was deliberate, as the second book in a trilogy, but it didn’t really do it for me. At the end of the book, the story within Deadline still felt unfinished.

Other Comments: If I wasn’t reading an electronic copy of the book, I might have thrown it across the room and yelled “Oh, come on, really?” at the ending. A lot of this book felt really forced and didn’t seem to fit as well as the last book, nor make a huge amount of sense. Either I’ve missed quite a bit whilst reading, or there’s some significant internal inconsistencies between Feed and Deadline – more than can be accounted for by the new information we’re given in Deadline. The villain’s motivations for example, don’t seem to make much sense at all, and some of their actions seem reactor exhaust port in the Death Star levels of stupidity.

Overall: I suppose I liked Deadline, begrudgingly, although I felt it really traded a lot on credibility earned by Feed. In and of itself I was very disappointed with some of the twists and character behaviour which felt very contradictory to what had been set up in Feed, and had the feeling Grant was sitting back somewhere “tee-heeing” at how people would react to this twist or that twist rather than focusing on the book itself. I’ll no doubt read the final book in the trilogy to see if it’s any better, and certainly hope it will be.

That’s all five Novels reviewed, next the Best Novella category, starting with The Ice Owl!



Best Novel Background Material:

Short listed in the Best Novel category for the 2012 Hugos are:

Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)


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