Rise: A Newsflesh CollectionRise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant
My rating: 4/5 cats
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full story-by-story review completed!


it was good to revisit this story, like seeing an old friend. i’d read it so many years ago, but i still remembered all of it, which is a testament to the staying power of mira grant’s imagery. and also her many wonderful turns of phrase:

Berkeley, being a university town in Northern California, had two major problems: not enough guns, and too many idiots who thought they could fight off zombies with medieval weapons they’d stolen from the history department. It also had two major advantages: most of the roads were already half blocked to prevent campus traffic from disturbing the residents, and most of those residents were slightly insane by any normal societal measurement.

considering that a replica of a medieval weapon is later used, to great effect, in a different newsflesh story, the idiocy seems instead to be just good thinking. (you calling kelly nakata an idiot, ms. grant?? hmmm, are ya??) but in the world of newsflesh, it’s true that a little insanity will always serve you well, amiright, foxy??

and now for the chills:


kills me every time.


this one was a first-time read for me, and i’d always felt a bit of a hole in my life for not having read it, as it was the only one i hadn’t read. and now i have. it’s very… short. it didn’t leave much of an impression on me, although i really appreciated her introduction in which she discusses her inspiration for writing this one, when asked to contribute a story to The Living Dead 2 and being at a loss about what to write, feeling like she’d covered so many angles in previous zombie tales (little did she know how fruitful she would find this world in the future – how much unexplored territory, because she’s always finding one more dark corner to shine an undead light into)

…I was stumped. Because I needed a short story that said something new and interesting about the zombie apocalypse, and I wasn’t finding it. Everyone had unleashed the virus; everyone had devoured the world. Everyone had survived.

That was the key. Everyone had survived. What about the people who looked at the face of the changing world – the world that was never going to be the same, even if they made it out the other side – and decided to say “you know what, thanks but no thanks; I’d rather be a statistic”? Any disaster is going to come with a certain soft cost: A certain number of suicides and accidents surrounding the deaths that come as an immediate consequence of the event. I wanted to focus on one of those people.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats

i loved this one the first time i read it, and i loved it EVEN MORE this second time. it’s just a perfect story, and a love letter to fandom/geekdom in all its manifestations. first of all, the premise of a zombie outbreak at comic-con is genius. while i’ve never been to comic-con, i have been to many years of BEA and one ALA, and it’s the same kind of crowd, with – sadly – fewer costumes. but just the wall-to-wall people – it’s a recipe for disaster, if the zombies decide to visit. from the introduction:

The closest comparison I have to trying to move across the San Diego Comic-Con floor on a Saturday afternoon is trying to cut through Times Square on New Year’s Eve, or across the plaza in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World just before the fireworks show. If you have ever done any of these things, I’m sorry. If you haven’t, well, I have done all three of them, which means you don’t have to.

she knows this world so well. just like elle riley, star of Space Crime Continuum, whose sudden superstardom has kept her from being a mere attendee, although she’d love to be just a regular geek again, wide-eyed and not needing to keep any secrets from the media’s scrutiny. elle is the best – i love her so much.

“Nice to meet you all,” said Elle briskly. “Now, what sort of danger did you people lead to our door?” She realized she was falling into the speech patterns she used for Indiction Rivers – and well, so what if she was? Indy Rivers got things done. Maybe she was a fictional character, but they were in a fictional place, in a fictional situation. There were worse things to be than fictional.

Fictional people cried only when the story told them to.

and her email is such a heartpunch.

because that’s another spectacular thing about this story – you know right from the beginning that NO ONE made it out of comic-con alive. which is fine – you’re reading this interview between mahir and lorelei tuttle – a woman who was the last to leave the convention center before all hell broke loose, and you’re just absorbing it as a fact – ‘yup, everyone died, got it.’ but then… then you actually meet about twenty or so characters, on this – their last day. and it’s really affecting, because you are rooting for these brave, nerdy folk even though you KNOW it’s pointless.

there’s also another great dog here. so many excellent dogs in these stories. but don’t get attached! you were warned!

How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea

i love how much mira grant’s voice reminds me of jenny lawson at times. for instance, one of the chapters in this story is titled:

Small Planes, Large Fences, and a Rather Daunting Number of Zombie Kangaroos, Because That Is Exactly What This Day Needed

and another:

In Which There Are Kangaroos Absolutely Everywhere, and No One Is Properly Upset About the Situation

after reading about lawson’s trip to australia in Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, i kind of want to fan-pimp these two into being best friends. BE BEST FRIENDS, PLEASE!

i’m going to be lazy and requote what i quoted from the first time i reviewed this story, because it still makes me laugh:

Video footage of zombie kangaroos laying siege to Sydney was one of the last things to escape Australia during that first long, brutal summer of the Rising. Then the networks went down, and there were other things for people to worry about. Unbelievable as it sounds today, there was a time when the rest of the world genuinely expected the entire continent to be lost.

There was one thing that no one considered, however: Australia was populated by Australians. When the rest of us were trying to adapt to a world that suddenly seemed bent on eradicating the human race, the Australians had been dealing with a hostile environment for centuries. They looked upon our zombie apocalypse, and they were not impressed.

AND i’m going to repost the zombie kangaroo image:

AND i’m going to complain again that by not referring to zombified wombats as “zombats,” she really missed an opportunity here. jenny lawson would not have missed that opportunity.

but i have NEW reflections! that are NEW!

the first time i read this one, i freaking loved it, and i could not understand why so many of the gr reviews were thumbs-downing it. but this time around, i loved it less. and it may be a case of having read it the first time when there was a newsflesh-shaped absence in my life as opposed to reading it now, with 644 pages of newsflesh to roll around in.

because yeah, the thumbs-downers were right – mahir really did drink a lot of tea in this story. which sounds like a silly thing to complain about, but mahir is one of my favorites (beaten only by alaric) (okay, and obviously foxy) (okay never mind – but i like him a LOT, okay?) and he kind of does come across a bit cartoonish in this one which OH MY GOD – BEST IDEA EVER – can we have some funko pop vinyls made of the newsflesh series? they should totally do book-funkos. i would buy so many of them. someone make this a thing that exists.

The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell

okay, so here’s the thing. i read this way back when, and there was no introduction by mira grant and when the reveal of the story was revealed, i was stunned. my jaw, it dropped.

in this collection, she reveals the reveal in her introduction, which i am quoting part of because it is a perfect description, but shhhhh:

View Spoiler »

so did i, man, so did i…

so i would caution you to maybe read the story first and then go back for the introduction, to maximize jaw-droppingness. and i realize JUST now, clicking through to my own old review of this, i fucking revealed it in my review, too. which is something i’m usually so careful to avoid, despite what some people on the internet would have you believe.

whatever, i give up.

it’s a fantastic story, whether you are surprised by the twist or not. so much action, so much peril, so much squirming on my part as i wonder how anyone can even live in the newsflesh world when this stupid virus can be transmitted by such a minor incident as the one shown here. she’s always so forthcoming and generous with her science, which is something i really appreciate, even in those instances when i am completely confused. View Spoiler » but here – it’s so horrifying – how it escalates into what it does in such a snowballing way from such a tiny moment. and it’s like HOW CAN YOU EVEN AVOID THIS SHIT??? especially when you take into account “spontaneous amplification,” which is like, just give up now, man, and makes me understand the decisions made in that Everglades story a whole hell of a lot. but yeah, i love this one. if the comic-con story didn’t exist, this would be my clear fave.

it’s another spectacular locked-room setting, and it’s so freaking intense.

and this horribly heartbreaking passage:

Then there was nothing but teeth, and pain, and redness, and the dim, disappointed feeling that there should have been more than this; that she should have been more than this, somehow. Only she wasn’t.

reminded me of one of my favorite parts of This is Not a Test, where a young character mourns the likely end of his life in his own zombie-infested world, and how small it has been.

“…It’s nothing. I thought it could be something, I mean, eventually.” He finally looks at us. “My life. I thought – but I mean…it’s nothing.”

how absolutely shattering to realize, at fifteen, that you have no fucking hope of realizing any of your dreams. this one is younger, so i guess more tragic, but still, that realization kills me.

Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus

“I was a doctor before I became anything else. The first rule we were taught in medical school was ‘Do no harm.'”

That wasn’t quite true. The first rule we were taught in medical school was “A cadaver is not a toy.”

dr. abbey is my LOVE. and her dog. damn, i love that dog. and the wonderful meeting between dog and … someone else that occurs in this book. this book shines with dr abbey’s cranky/funny/badass voice, and can we have a round of applause for SUPER-FORTRESS???

Give me a group of easily bored scientists and engineers, and give me a couple of undisturbed years, and I can build a stronghold that will never be breached.

great story.

All the Pretty Little Horses

this greeting, from the introduction, delighted me even though it did not apply to me:

This is the first of the two new stories in this volume. The odds are good that many of you have skipped straight here. Welcome.

me, i wasn’t going to race right to the new stuff. i wanted to savor the old familiar ones and then celebrate with all-new adventures at the end, otherwise i would never have gone back and read the earlier ones again. plus i would feel like i was cheating on my reading challenge, plus-plus who wants to have a book with an uneven wear-pattern, pristine until the last hundred pages? not me, that’s for sure! these things matter!

anyway, this story covers the experiences of the mason parents, post-philip, pre-shaun and george and is a pretty excellent examination of coping mechanisms and survival and how people can start out nice and well-intentioned and fragile and eventually turn into … shaun and george’s parents. apology? explanation? warning? whatever – it’s really tight and ALL NEW!

Coming to You Live

the introduction reads simply: This is what you asked for.

as far as a way to close a collection, it’s perfect. it’s basically a curtain call, one of the segments is even called The Gang’s All Here. however, it was my least favorite story overall. it takes place after the events of Blackout, and it answers the question “where are they and what are they doing now?” and you know who ‘they’ are, yes?

My name is Shaun Mason, and I am not okay.

there was a lot i liked in this one, including a little passage about foxen:

I liked foxes. They kept the vermin down, and since they never reached amplification weight, they couldn’t become zombies, which made them decent neighbors. Best of all, they hated the smell of the infected, and they liked to yell at infected things. When foxes yelled at something, it sounded like a murder party getting underway. As biological early warning systems went, you couldn’t do much better than foxes.

but i think i’m sick of shaun’s voice/perspective. i used to really enjoy his character, but either i’m over him or she’s out of practice writing him. it was really one-note: george, george, george, burn down the world etc etc. it felt all too familiar. however, once more characters start popping their heads into the story, it got better, but in a “hey, look who’s here!” way and not a “this story is very engaging to me” way. so that was a bit of a disappointment, although i’ll take all the alaric i can get. to be honest, george was always the least interesting character to me, and this story is very very george-y. even foxy was dull in this one. and since i still can’t wrap my head around some of the science related to this series, as i mentioned in the spoiler earlier, a lot of this was over my muddled little head.

but whatever- it’s new and i got to see some favorite characters interacting (or rather, sniping at each other with hurt feelings). i think my problem with this one was the same as with mahir in the australia one – it was a lot of knee-jerk tics and quirks, all very expected, a parade of characteristics of familiar characters where all the new stuff was george-stuff i didn’t really care about. but i’m not going to complain – i loved reading this book, the new and the old and i am SO PUMPED for the new full-length novel.

bring it on!

NOW AVAILABLE!!! and i’m on the very last story. sniff.

i just got an ARC of this in the mail, and while i was excited to finally have all the stories i’d read as e-books in one handy volume, i had no idea that there were actually TWO BRAND-NEW STORIES in it!

life is good.

okay, i am (re)reading this now. i’ve read all but the two new stories and the one that was only in The Living Dead 2, which i’m pretty sure i have around here somewhere, since i read the first volume, but i think i just never realized hers was in there. moops. i’m not sure if i should re-review the ones i’ve already read, but for now, i will just leave links to my previous reviews, because why not?



this is the one from the zombie anthology

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats…

How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea…

The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell…

Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus…

All the Pretty Little Horses

Coming to You Live

and there’s also
, which i think was on her site maybe? but it’s not in this collection. which is weird. but anyway, here, because i like to be complete and thorough:…

and while i’m here, i may as well link to the reviews for the three novels in the trilogy:




read my reviews on goodreads

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