Anybody else feel like this stupid election has been going on forever? Don't get me wrong, I love politics, heck The West Wing is one of my favorite shows of all times (in fact I'm re watching the entire series for at least the fifth time as we speak), but seriously folks year long elections?!?! Imagine my delight after suffering through many a political commercial aimed at convincing me that voting for the "other" guy will bring about the apocalypse (I live in a swing state, lucky me) I found a book that actually mixes a presidential election with ZOMBIES!!!!!! Not only that but the book was well written, intriguing, horrifying, thought provoking, humorous and tragic all at the same time, I literally could not put it down, I had to sneak it into work, kept in in my ambulance, stayed up to all hours, it was wonderful.
Feed the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (pen name for Seanan McGuire). It is set in the 2040ish time frame, about 20 years after the Uprising the name for the event where zombies became part of everyday life. The book quickly lets you in on what happened two separate virus's one to cure cancer which was in the clinical trial phase and one to cure the common cold, which got prematurely released by eco-terrorists got together and mutated into what is known as the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Everybody is infected with this virus which stays dormant in any mammal over 40 pounds until it is activated. When somebodies virus is activated they call it amplification and it is usually caused by death, though an injection of live virus through bites or needle or swallowing are possibilities as well. When a person or animal amplifies it loses all sense of self and goes looking for sustenance to feed the virus as well as new hosts to send the virus to. This results in zombies, the newer zombies are pretty strong and very dangerous, the older and more malnourished a zombie gets the slower and clumsier it gets. The odd thing about these zombies is that the more of them that group together the smarter they get, so one zombie may do nothing more than shamble after you, but a group of five zombies may start to herd you, and a group of twenty zombies may be able to lead you into an ambush. This is the life that people now live.
The coolest thing about this book, for me at least is that it is not a post-apocalyptic novel, it is about how people try and find some sense of normalcy and a way to keep living despite the zombies. The story is told from the perspective of Georgia Carolyn Mason a blogger. It follows her, her brother Shaun and there partner Buffy as they become official bloggers on the campaign trail of Senator Ryman. Through out the book Georgia lets us glimpse at what life has become after the Uprising, the fear it inspired and the various thoughts on how it should be dealt with. For instance, since any mammal over 40 pounds can potentially undergo amplification and become a zombie, people no longer eat beef, or pork, or any other large animal. There are laws in place about keeping large animals in residential areas and there is an ongoing debate on weather or not they should try to eliminate all large mammals in general. Technology plays a huge role in this story, from the elaborate blood tests and security, to all of the cameras, recording equipment, computers and servers used by the bloggers to keep there readers informed. Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy are the first group of non-traditional media to be officially invited on the campaign trail, giving them the opportunity to report first hand the going ons of the election process, which disturbingly is one of the few things that has not changed very much despite recent events. As the story progresses we learn of a potential conspiracy that threatens not only the campaign, but the public in general. This book does not go into all of the details, and I am assuming that is what the next two books are for. The trio meet a lot of people who are willing to help them, and some not so savory characters as well.
This is where I decide not to say any more about the story, needless to say I think it is awesome, but part of the awesomeness is those AH WHAT THE HECK moments that make this such a page turner and these happen everywhere. There are scary moments, sweet moments, moments that made me cry (seriously a zombie book made me cry, there I admitted it!) The author does not hold back and by the end of the book I was drained, but in a totally satisfied way. There were a couple minor, minor flaws, on occasion things got a tad repetitive, certain things were pounded into your head (oh does Georgia really have another retinal KA induced headache, really?!?), but it does not take away from the story at all. Some people might find the relationship between Georgia and Shaun a bit weird, but again nothing untoward happens so I give it a pass. Again, this is not your typical horror zombie book, this is about all the people who live in this world where zombies just happen to be the latest threat to human kind. That being said, the best part is that people who had seen George Romero's zombie movies, could actually use them as lessons to survive the uprising :-) (geek love) I give this book 9.5 out of 10 zombie blogging politicians.
What do you think about sharing our world with zombies? How much would fear of zombies affect your everyday life if you knew they were here to stay? Do you think the elections would be way more exciting if you knew there could be a zombie attack at any moment?