If you’d understandably rather not think about pandemics or politics for the time being, this book series and set of reviews probably aren’t for you.
But if you’re like me in that you’re curious to see how the United States might tackle these issues in a fictional future and/or you’re looking for a bit of hope to get you through the week … you might enjoy this one.
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives — the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
Genre(s): Adult, Sci-fi, Post-Apocalypse, Zombies
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Representation: (click to show)
Feed: visually impaired MC, diverse minor characters
Deadline & Blackout: biracial (Hispanic/Caucsian) bi/pan major character, Chinese-American (Cantonese speaking) major character & family, Indian-British major character, Black minor character, M/(bi/pan) F relationship, past F/F relationship
Feedback: Irish-American immigrant lesbian MC, Chinese-American bisexual MC with PTSD, Black MC, genderfluid MC, F/F major relationship (established), past F/F relationships
NB: Content warnings are split up by book due to spoilers!
Feed content warnings: (click to show)
loss of loved ones, grief, infectious disease, blood, graphic violence, some gore, major & minor character deaths, mercy kill(s), mentioned suicide, suicidal ideation, slut-shaming, ableist language
Deadline content warnings: (click to show)
precanon major character death, grief, suicidal ideation, self-harm (punching walls until bleeding), blood, gore, ableist language, major character death(s), animal lab testing, on-page panic attack, non-graphic sexual content, suicide (shooting), implied incest (adopted siblings)
Blackout content warnings: (click to show)
past major character death, survivor’s guilt & grief, suicidal ideation, incest (adopted siblings), blood, gore, ableist language
Feedback content warnings: (click to show)
blood, gore, violence, major character death(s), suicide (by stepping off balcony), survivor’s guilt & grief, misgendering (challenged in-text), implied past attempted suicide, sexual harassment, ableist language, fictional mention of human trafficking (story within story), precanon loss of parent
Feed Mini-Review [spoiler-free]
I definitely wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t chosen for a Books and Tea readalong, and I would have totally missed out. Not being at all a fan of horror or zombies or politics, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this.
It certainly helps that there’s more focus on the worldbuilding — the science behind and sociopolitical effects of the virus that creates zombies — and the character relationships really shine, particularly the bond between Georgia and Shaun. There’s some infodumping every few paragraphs, especially in the beginning, but the audio format might’ve helped me just roll with it.
However, listening to the audiobook actually ended up spoiling a major plot development for me because it led me to predict the twist very early on. Though it really added to the tension as I waited to see how and when it would happen.
And it certainly still hit hard, since Grant pulls no emotional punches. There are so many nuanced characters whom I couldn’t help but get attached to, despite Georgia’s cynicism and misanthropy; the focus on a single major storyline meant that each moment resonated: its relevance clear, its impact examined thoughtfully.
Deadline Mini-Review [spoiler-free]
This is what a sequel should do: make us care even more about the surviving characters, expand the world, rip our hearts out just as much as the first book. Deadline feels like the natural continuation to Feed, without getting predictable or repetitive.
It’s near impossible to talk about specifics without getting into spoilers, so I’m just going to say that I knew I shouldn’t get attached to the new characters but I loved them almost immediately. The plot was exciting from start to finish. And I liked this more than the first book, but I’m also cautiously optimistic that the third book will become my favorite.
Blackout Mini-Review [spoiler-free]
This trilogy is a super engaging narrative and a masterclass in storytelling. Somehow Grant keeps raising the stakes without crossing the line into drama for the sake of drama or major cliches, without compromising all the character development and deaths that have come before.
The news cycle waits for no one, but the crew of After the End Times reminds us to take a moment for human dignity.
(Everything else is spoilers, sorry.)
Feedback Mini-Review [spoiler-free]
I think what I liked most about this book is also what bothered me most about this book: it covers the same time period (and some of the same events) as Feed, but from the perspective of new characters who are less privileged than the Masons in a lot of ways. [See REP, above, for specifics.] It stands alone, but also ties in strongly to the trilogy.
Some scenes are similar to ones we’ve already seen, but play out significantly or slightly differently because the characters are different: they make different choices and/or are treated differently than the Masons were. On an academic/educational level it’s interesting, but it did make me a little less invested in the outcome. That said, this effect is partially offset by how much I was delighted by the namedropping of major and minor characters from the trilogy.
And this set of reporters are just as smart and resilient; I particularly liked that their perspective is more intersectional, plus they’re less insular than the Masons. They have some really exciting adventures of their own and make some alarming discoveries. (Some of which might be spoilers if you read this before Deadline and Blackout.)