Saturday, May 3, 2014

Newsflesh Series by Mira Grant

Sorry for being so quiet this spring.  I've had my ear buds on, nose in my e-reader/books, and fingers on the keyboard!

One of the reading projects that distracted me from posting was the Newsflesh Series by Mira Grant.  The books in order are:
  • Feed (2010) 
  • Deadline (2011)
  • Blackout  (2012)
Mira Grant is a pseudonym that Seanan McGuire uses for this series.

Zombies!!! (Again!) But, much much more!

Really, I think this series is more about the communication of news and opinion in the 21st century than it is about zombies.  Grant (McGuire) combines issues related to biomedical research, politics, and the media coverage of these two issues in this series.  If I wanted a book that helped secondary-aged students see the importance of learning to write well, this would be it.

The protagonists of the series, George (Georgia) and Shaun, are bloggers.  In the post-apocalyptic world of @2039) they are journalists (bloggers).  In this future traditional news sources (television network news, newspapers, magazines) no longer have the dominant presence as ways that citizens obtain information.  Instead bloggers are the primary sources for news.  Georgia and Shaun, with their friend Buffy are the CEOs of a blogging "company" that is trying to maintain high ratings in the extremely competitive blogosphere. In this world there are "newsies," "fictionals," and "Irwins."  These are obvious names for the types of blogs each writes, except for Irwins.  These are vloggers (video blogs) who capture video of zombies and zombie killing.  Yes, there is some violence, but no more than other popular zombie-based books/video.  

 WARNING!  There is a scene in Deadline that is sexually explicit, but not terribly salacious.  (Mira/Seanan--wish you'd left this out!)   I would use the first book of this series as a book-club choice for high schoolers.  I'd recommend the entire series to individual readers (just try and get them to stop after the first book!).  There is such great content in the series about politics, national health organizations, business, news, media, writing, and the market place (and self-protection) that it would actually be a good inter-disciplinary study book.

A third book under this pseudonym that I really enjoyed is Parasite (2013).  This is another biomedical "issues" book.  During the time that I was reading this series I also hear an NPR Science Friday program on stem-cell research.  The resonance of the surety of the scientists about how carefully they were safe-guarding the work they were doing made me immediately turn to a skeptical stance.  I wish that a someone more conservative yet authoritative voice had been available to offer a little more counterbalanced discussion of the risk factors.

Of course some of the content of all three books in this series is alarming.  It could lead readers to a reactionary position about biomedical research.  My daughter has been a biology major and I am a strong supporter of science in all forms.  I do worry however that the majority of America does not pay much attention to the research underway.  Generally, I believe that our research has out-paced our ethics.  The current political debates about the "flash point" medical and genetic research is far behind the issues we should actually be exploring.  I believe these books are a great opening to get students more interested/involved.

No comments: