March 21, 2011


So the title is referring to the ascension of both the blogging community over mainstream news organizations in the future and of the, well, living dead.  Technically they're not zombies.  They're the "infected."  But like anyone isn't going to call this the zombie apocalypse.

It takes place at the end of the 2030s after an unfortunate accident which involved curing both the common cold and cancer leads to well, um, the living dead.

"The Rising" has happened in the past.  Our twenty-something heroes barely remember a time before the infected had changed the world.  And it's this changed world that "Mira Grant" (pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, and a female writer - I checked this time) handles so well.  It's a bit long for a thriller (although I guess length is relative when those chunky Millennium Trilogy books are selling like hotcakes) but it's full of great examples of what us speculative fiction geeks like to describe as "world building."  This isn't a Mad Max post-apocalyptic world with plain old simple death and destruction at every turn.  This is a book in which the fear levels and "enhanced security measures" have gone through the roof.  I mean if you think people have gone a little over the top with worry over Japan's relatively minor nuclear accident (here's a great graphic putting that into the proper perspective), imagine what they'd do if the dead were coming back and trying to eat us.  You think TSA full-body scans are intrusive?  How about having to have a blood test every time you wanted to enter and exit any kind of public gathering.

She considers all the security, political, media, religious, and scientific implications and mostly keeps the narrative moving along.  There is quite a bit of exposition and sure, it could have been trimmed by a hundred or so pages, but even at over 550 pages, I was surprised at how much she got in there without it ballooning to Stephen King-type length.

The main characters are a brother-sister blogging team who become part of a senator's press pool and follow him around the country during the campaign.  Bloggers are licensed and more trusted than the traditional news outlets because they dawdled around too long n disbelief when "The Rising" happened while the blogging community was quick to share the facts on the ground as they were happening.

I loved the political intrigue, even though it was a bit transparent, because there's nothing better than having a zombie book where the real bad guys are politicians.  I also liked that the CDC comes off pretty well for the most part.  I have some friends there and it's nice to know that they would be heroes on a par with firefighters post 9/11 if there was actually a, you know, actual zombie uprising.

The medical stuff, while slightly far-fetched, is grounded enough in reality that it's very compelling.  McGuire has done her homework and come up with some plausible virology.  Maybe I can get my CDC friends to read it and give me their take.

Some of the more fun things: the death penalty suddenly has no meaning; the Catholic Church decides all "infected" are instant martyrs, there are beautiful nods to the work of both George Romero and Steve Irwin.  There's even some Buffy/Joss Whedon references.

So, yeah.  If you like this kind of thing this is a good one.  It's not so much a horror novel as a terror novel.  More thriller than scares.  What I really want to know is, who the heck picked this for my book club?

Feed. Mira Grant