Review: Countdown (Newsflesh #0.5)

Review: Countdown (Newsflesh #0.5)Countdown by Mira Grant
Series: Newsflesh #0.5
Published by Orbit on August 1st 2011
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Zombies
Pages: 105
Format: audio
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died.

This is the story of how we rose.

When will you rise?

Countdown is a novella set in the world of Feed.
Word count: ~19,500

When I read it…

I listened to the audiobook between December 27th and January 1st 2017.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Absolutely nothing! I had an audible voucher with a little credit leftover, and I loved Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series so I picked up this novella about how it all began.

What worked for me:

  • The science: I’ve said before, one of the reasons I so love Mira Grant is that her sci-fi doesn’t shy away from science. Grant’s zombies aren’t based on a vague virus we never find any details about, but a meticulously planned out one, which I love. Countdown is pretty much all about how the virus started, the background to the virus that reanimates the dead and the scientists involved in both it’s formation and the world’s response to it.
  • The narration: Brian Bascle hasn’t overtaken Wil Wheaton, James Marsters or Luke Daniels as a favourite narrator, but I enjoyed his narration, and found him very easy to listen to.
  • The length of the audiobook: I’m not really a short story/novella fan, but actually as an audiobook I have to say this length worked really well – while super-long audiobooks feel like great value, sometimes I get bored listening to the same thing for ages, whereas this was a <1 week read, and it was nice to mix things up.

Countdown is all about the background events leading up to Feed and of course you know going in where the story is going; it’s definitely not a drama-filled plot, but that didn’t really bother me.  While there’s not a huge amount of characterisation, I liked the characters we met, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded a longer novella and the chance to see more of them!  As a novella, Countdown is never going to become an absolute favourite of mine, but equally it did everything I wanted it to do very well and if you’re a Mira Grant fan – or you want to get into her awesome Newsflesh series – I’d definitely recommend it.

Other reviews of Countdown: The Guilded Earlobe | For The Love of Words | Brian’s Book Blog

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Review: Parasite (Mira Grant)

Review: Parasite (Mira Grant)Parasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Published by Orbit on 29-10-2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Hard Science Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Amazon
Goodreads

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

After a car accident that leaves her legally brain-dead, Sally Mitchell becomes the first person ever to be saved by a SymboGen implant. The SymboGen implant (known as the Intestinal Bodyguard) is a modified tapeworm which pulls toxins from the bloodstream, fights off infections and generally keeps everyone healthy without any effort on the part of the human who’s had one implanted. With no memory of the girl she was before her accident, Sal has had to relearn everything – how to walk, talk, and most of all, who she is. Six years later, she’s still guarded by overprotective parents, and occasionally has to submit for testing at SymboGen, but generally life is good.

Then the ‘sleepwalking’ starts – perfectly normal people seem to hollow out, becoming mindless shells of their former selves. With no explanation as to why the disease occurred, how it’s spreading, or who will be next, life just became scary and confusing.

I really enjoyed the format and writing style of Parasite. Each chapter begins with a quote or an excerpt from a book or interview about SymboGen. This is a great touch, as it makes the whole world feel more believable, whilst also helping you form opinions of characters who begin to feel three-dimensional even before you meet them.

One of my favourite things about Parasite is that there was some actual science behind the plot. I’m by no means an expert on tapeworms, but we had to study them as part of my degree, and I’m really glad Mira Grant seemed to have done her research! There was just enough science to keep my brain ticking over, and to make the plot seem believable, without feeling either patronising or dry.

Sal is an interesting character. There were times when she was frustrating, but most of the time I liked her. Curious and intelligent, Sal slowly becomes more feisty throughout the novel, and she’s both protective and loyal to those important to her. She already has a boyfriend, so there isn’t a huge romance in this (or a love triangle!), which is refreshing. I also loved the supporting cast, including Sal’s boyfriend Nathan, a truly loveable dog named Beverly, and the unhinged seeming Tansy.

The plot is gripping and full of twists. There was one twist that I personally thought was quite predictable, but there were plenty of other ups and downs to keep me hooked. I’ve recommended Parasite a lot since finishing it, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. This was my first Mira Grant book, and it led to a binging of her other books!

Buy it? I definitely think this is one worth buying and adding to your shelves.
In a nutshell: A fantastically gripping, wonderfully written novel.

Other Reviews of Parasite: Caffeinated Book Reviewer | Nyx Book Reviews | King of the Nerds

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