Finally, I actually finished reading this series! It was never from a lack of interest: the three books are all thrilling, with great twists and turns, and themes I enjoy. When I first read the first book, I had a lot of health anxiety that was totally on top of me, and the book made me really viscerally uncomfortable the whole time… but it stuck in my head, and I came back to it again and later again.
It’s an uncomfortable world to think about, especially now in the middle of a pandemic, and it has worthwhile messages for us about fear and control and freedom. It predicts, for example, the sort of hygiene theatre we have at the moment with spraying of disinfectant on every possible surface… when in fact fomite transmission of COVID is thought to be rare. That’s a good parallel with the situation in the books where people get tested again and again for signs of “amplification” — sometimes within minutes of each other. It’s theatre to make you feel better, without addressing the real issues.
I think reading this book might give you the impression that it’s a good idea to just face a virus head-on, zombies or not, but I think the message is more subtle than that. It’s about being informed, and about fiercely interrogating everything to discover the truth. If the truth is that you should wear a mask, wash your hands a lot, and sometimes put up with a national lockdown… then that’s what you should do.
It’s hard to talk about this book in detail without giving massive spoilers for something that happens at the end of Deadline, so I won’t go into detail. I found the ending a little abrupt, actually — a little too naive about what it would really take to put a spoke in the wheel of such a massive conspiracy. In a sense, it ends with much left to do, of course, but there is a feeling that the Masons have done their part and their lives and deaths can go out of the spotlight because they’ve achieved something. It feels way too easy when you look at exposures in the last few years that have done nothing to change politics whatsoever.
It’s still really enjoyable, while being emotionally impactful — Mira Grant doesn’t hold back on those punches, so I’m not saying this is a sunshine-and-daisies sort of story.