I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant
Series: Newsflesh Trilogy #3.5
Published by Orbit on June 21, 2016
Genres: Short Stories, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
Amazon • The Book Depository • Audible
Collected here for the first time is every piece of short fiction from New York Times Bestseller Mira Grant's acclaimed Newsflesh series, with two new never-before-published novellas and all eight short works available for the first time in print.
We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, a man-made virus taking over bodies and minds, filling them with one, unstoppable command...FEED.
Despite my immense love of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, I’d not yet gotten around to reading the various novellas. I was definitely planning to, sooner rather than later, so I was THRILLED when Rise was announced. At that point, I decided to wait, even though I was actively rereading at about that time. I mean, new stories and the old stories all conveniently together in one whole book? SIGN ME UP.
Rise opens strongly with Countdown. “Countdown” details The Rising in small snippets, from the creation of the cures that accidentally merged to cause it and the first attacks. Though the information wasn’t precisely new, there’s a lot more detail given to the bigger picture details that you get in the trilogy. Grant does an amazing job with these. Despite the brevity of each snippet, they’re powerful and intense. I have a lot of Dr. and Mr. Kellis feels.
The steady undercurrent of “Countdown” is the constant shifting of blame. Many events combine to bring about the Rising, and no one wants to be culpable. It’s sad, really, that the people who feel guiltiest about the apocalypse are the ones who were least culpable.
Also powerful are the news snippets at the end of each chapter. They remain cheerful for so long, shifting only when the dead are actually rising, becoming a menacing drumbeat warning people to stay safe and stay inside. Grant has always done amazing things with epigraphs.
“Everglades” is a sort of new work, never having been released as a novella until Rise. And oof is it depressing. Trigger warning for suicide, as this story is about a girl who decides she doesn’t care to try so survive the zombie apocalypse. Though it’s well-written, “Everglades” was a bit too short to have much impact on me, aside from being depressing as hell. The zombies reminding the girl of the Everglades also was a bit of a weird connection that didn’t do a whole lot for me tbh.
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats
Oof, this one hurts. The Newsflesh Trilogy has some intense, scary zombie moments, but, since it’s set after humanity has figured out how to survive, it’s nothing like this. Set at the very start of the Rising, “San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” is the story of how everyone at the Comic Con preview dies.
Like, you know from the start that no one will survive. And of course all the saddest moments from Firefly are playing in my head as I read. The combination of how likable Grant made these poor, doomed characters and Firefly feels had me crying at the end. It’s sort of amazing how, even though I know there’s no hope, you still really do hope. THE PAIN.
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea
My feelings on “How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea” are a bit mixed. On the one hand, I really love getting to see how hilariously uniquely Australia handled the Rising. I’d not really thought about how other countries would be handling things in different ways, but now I really want more stories set in other places. The commentary on Australia seems pretty on point from everything I’ve heard (though I’ve never been).
On the other hand, this story did drag a bit. As much as I love Mahir, he’s too tired to be too bantery for most of the story due to jetlag. It’s not really plot-driven either, more about the science and looking at zombie kangaroos than anything. For what this novella actually accomplishes, it’s overlong. But zombie kangaroos and wombats are pretty damn cool.
The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell
Wow, this one’s really strong. Like, “How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea,” it’s long, almost a hundred pages in this huge hardback. Unlike the prior novella, though, the pace is fast. Where that story lacked in high stakes, this one was high stakes in novella form. It’s about an elementary school suffering an outbreak. Unlike “San Diego 2014,” you know some people are going to survive. Very cool. Very painful. Massively brutal. View Spoiler »I cannot believe Elaine had to break a kindergartener’s neck. Holy shit. « Hide Spoiler Also, it’s very zombie horror in a way that Newsflesh generally isn’t, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus
Thus far, “Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus” was my least favorite in the collection, being both long and the one I felt least connected to. The end picks up, but the first several sections are slow. The constant riffing on “mad science” also got really old. Also, this short story further enhanced my frustration with Parasitology because Dr. Shannon Abbey is basically Dr. Shanti Cale and Foxy is Tansy. It’s not a bad novella, but I don’t think it shines as much as the others have.
All the Pretty Little Horses
Woo! I’ve made it to the new stories, written for this collection. I’m not really sure why I’m more excited for these when I hadn’t read any of them before but whatever they feel special. In “All the Pretty Little Horses,” Grant takes us on a deep dive into the Masons in a post-Rising world. The story does make them a bit more sympathetic for sure, and adds some great characterization for them. On the other hand, Michael Mason does not have the most compelling of voices. The Masons are not particularly funny or sarcastic, so I do not love the writing in their section as much as in other stories. Ironically, this does speak to the quality of the voice, but it is not my favorite.
Coming to You Live
“This is what you asked for.” So says Grant’s Introduction. Well, to be entirely fair, we asked for fan fiction fluff of certain people being spectacularly happy. Shockingly, Grant did not deliver that. I admit to being a bit grumpy that “Coming to You Live” was not that, but seeing these guys again means a lot. I love that Shaun’s still completely fucked up, and I love that he finally feels okay enough to try to get help. <3
As a whole, this collection contains some of the best novellas I’ve read. They’re not essential to the Newsflesh Trilogy experience, but there’s some really amazing background and some great peeks into the future. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but who would ever really expect that of Grant?