The Masons take their news so seriously they're willing to die to bring you the truth.
Newsflesh is a series of Zombie Apocalypse medical political thrillers written by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye, InCryptid, and Velveteen VsUrban Fantasy novelsnote —the pen name is to help indicate that she's working in a different genre here).In the summer of 2014, three men tried to help the world, and nearly ended it instead. In Colorado, Dr. Daniel Wells worked on a genetically engineered virus designed to cure cancer, finally achieving a breakthrough with teenager Amanda Amberlee. In Virginia, Dr. Alexander Kellis worked on a similar program to wipe out the common cold. And in Pennsylvania, Brandon Majors led a group of college students to break into Dr. Kellis' lab, setting free the experimental and incompletely tested virus.Soon, the two viruses met and combined to form Kellis-Amberlee, which turned out to be theVirus: it caused the dead to get back up as zombies and eat people, which of course generated more zombies. The initial series of outbreaks was dubbed The Rising.In an attempt to prevent mass panic, the government decided to lie to the public; newscasters were given scripts indicating that it was either a zombie walk, or a variation of H1N1 making people act aggressively and violently. However, one brave doctor from the CDC leaked the real story, even as bloggers and geeks had already guessed the truth and started spreading the word.Once the worst was over (for some values of "worst"), humanity researched the situation and quickly learned just how screwed they were: every mammal on the planet was infected with Kellis-Amberlee; any mammal large enough (about 40 pounds) would reanimate as a zombie upon death. A few would simply convert directly into zombies without dying. There was no cure.In the twenty years since the Rising, life has changed drastically to address the continuous threat of new outbreaks. A significant portion of the American public has retreated behind walls. Everyone who has to go outside has to know how to shoot. Strict hygiene protocols must be obeyed. Bloggers are now considered valid journalists because they immediately shared the truth and spread the word during the Rising, while traditional media was still either dancing to the government's tune or just failing to take the disaster seriously.The novels are:
Feed (May 2010) - 2011 Hugo Award nominee for Best Novel and optioned for a motion picture.
In 2039, Senator Peter Ryman, seeking the Republican nomination for president, chose a team of bloggers to join him on the campaign trail: After The End Times, headed by Georgia and Shaun Mason and Buffy Meissonier, from the first generation to come of age since the Rising. In addition to learning about Ryman, they discovered some disturbing truths that led them to dig deeper, finding more than they — or anyone — ever bargained for.
Deadline (May 2011)
Some months after the election of President Ryman, the After the End Times crew were still working away, at their Oakland headquarters. A person sent to them joined their team as their new blogger, and they ended up digging into a deeper mystery as Shaun's sanity began to fray.
Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella (August 2011) - originally published to the author's blog in the weeks leading up to Deadline's release, but was released as a novella by Orbit.
In 2014, Drs. Kellis and Wells, pursued their good work trying to cure the common cold and cancer, respectively. Stalnaker the journalist, was going for a sensational angle to present Kellis' work. The method he chose riled up a group of would-be activists who broke into Kellis' lab and released his cold cure. In California, as the Rising began, the Masons heard the rumors and took them to heart as true; and two babies were orphaned during the disastrous period before the Rising was under control.
Blackout (May 2012)
Shaun's already frayed sanity has worsened to hanging by a thread. Mahir, after researching much of what they learned earlier, came to American shores to see their story through to the end. Because they will find and tell the truth, even if it kills them!
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats (July 2012, during Comic-con)
You can't stop the fans. In 2014, even though scary rumors fly of a real-life, no-foolin' Zombie Apocalypse, the San Diego Comic Con still was scheduled. On preview night, a handful of unlucky fans and a celebrity discovered the hard way just how true those rumors turned out to be.
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea (July 2013)
The Rising happened all over the planet. Mahir went to Australia to see how the people of that continent dealt with zombie marsupials amid the other dangers of Australia.
The Day The Dead Came To Show And Tell (July 2014)
Alaric researched an outbreak at a Washington State elementary school. First grade teacher Elaine Oldenburg was the only adult to realize that two terrible things had happened: an outbreak had occurred, and the school's emergency response system had failed somehow. This knowledge led her to a terrible choice between obeying the rules when things had already gone wrong, or try to get her young charges to safety.In addition, the short story Everglades was published in the anthology Living Dead 2 in 2010. (The chronological order of events is Countdown, San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, then Everglades, then TDTDCTSAT, then the novels, followed by HGTLHBTS.) Ms. Grant won the 2010 John W. Campbell award for best new writer for this series.Blackout and San Diego 2014 were two of McGuire's record five Hugo nominations in 2013.As usual for stories set in and after a Zombie Apocalypse, expect a lot of Death Tropes to be mentioned. THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING — read no further if you don't want spoilers.
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
Though one thing that really makes it stand out from other zombie stories is that enough time has passed that society is reasonably stable again, and while constant vigilance is required to avoid zombie attacks, it's entirely possible to live a life we could see as normal.
In Feed, Shaun has legions of fangirls offering to marry him. He has no interest because he's already sleeping with Georgia.
Played with in Deadline: Maggie and Dave.
Played with some more in Deadline with a twist: Becks was in love with Shaun, who was completely oblivious, though the George living in his head was not. And Alaric has been nursing a crush for Becks, which Becks never notices.
Another example from Deadline: Mahir had feelings for Georgia, to the point where his wife Nandini bears a resemblance to her.
Subverted in Blackout when Alaric develops feelings for Maggie and they get married by the end, though we never see the relationship develop.
...what the web and social media are like in the post-Rising world, right down to Twitter conversations during which the typist goes into amplification.
Zone levels for each of the United States: which means how severe the zombie infestation is, and accordingly, whether humans are allowed to reside in the area with or without accompaniment from the authorities and the CDC.
Amicable Exes: Jack and Juliet of HGTLHBTS. Also Rey and Olivia from the same novella.
And Then John Was a Zombie: The team tends to take anybody out once they've gone into viral amplification, but this is a 'verse in which anybody can be zombified... except Shaun and likely anyone having long-term intimate relations with anyone suffering reservoir KA.
Anyone Can Die: This is a post-zombie-apocalypse society. It kind of comes with the territory.
Apocalypse Anarchy: Countdown has some of the major figures committing suicide as the Rising begins. And San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats has people from all over the world showing up determined to go to San Diego Comic Con despite rumors of the zombie apocalypse having begun... rumors which turn out to be true.
Apocalypse How: Class 1 for the first two books. Threatens to amplify into a 3 after a strain develops that can be transmitted by mosquito.
Apocalyptic Log: Georgia's last blog entry reads like one, right down to the author's abrupt death. Unlike most cases of this trope, we see more of the author than the log itself.
Feed had Chuck Wong, the techie for the Ryman campaign, and Indian Mahir Gowda, Georgia's second for the Newsies division.
Deadline revealed that After The End Times has the Chinese Alaric Kwong on staff. Alaric and Mahir are both Newsies and therefore infojunkies, and as an occupational hazard tend to have a better than layman knowledge on a number of subjects from the obscure to the occupational.
Ate His Gun: One of the Ryman security team after being bitten.
Shaun confesses to this urge early in Deadline from living without Georgia.
Professor Brannon, one of the scientists Mahir contacted in his "let's check the Doc's data" search
Dr. Thomas, after Subject 7c (a Georgia Mason clone) escapes the CDC.
Awful Truth: Considering there's a government conspiracy involved, this is inevitable, though the one that hits hardest is the revelation that Georgia might have recovered had Shaun not shot her.
Additionally, the fact that reservoir conditions may allow people to survive amplification without conversion, but that fact cannot be allowed to become public knowledge because people will stop shooting their loved ones in the head in the hope they will also survive amplification — disastrous in a world where all mammals become zombies. According to Dr. Kelly Connolly, the chances of amplifying but not converting are two in ten thousand.
Seems like a benevolent reason to keep a secret, at first, until Dr. Joseph Wynne elaborates on the suppression of that information: the people behind the conspiracy are trying to make a KA strain that will not create a reservoir condition so that they can "cure" the world on their own terms.
Stacy Mason helped keep the residents of Berkeley alive during the Rising, then had to shoot her own small son, and went on to be a famous zombie killer and blogger. She holds the distinction of being the world's first true Irwin.
Michael Mason was a voice of sanity during The Rising and is also a famed blogger.
George and Shaun themselves founded "After The End Times" and risk their lives for the truth on a daily basis.
And from San Diego 2014 The Tutts and extended family.
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: George Romero never really expected his movies to be what saved the human race, but once KA was out there, he left his body to science to help search for a cure. There are Urban Legends about people who mistakenly blamed him for the Kellis-Amberlee mutation that caused the Rising.
Big Friendly Dog: Marigold and Maize, the sweet, lovable golden retrievers who lived next door to the Masons until the Rising, at which point the trope is subverted; they were the index case for KA having affected other mammalian species besides humans and Phillip the proof, converting when zombified Marigold bit him.
Inverted by the pack of tiny teacup bulldogs in Maggie's house, but played straight with Joe the Mastiff in Deadline. The implication by his size and the way he interacts with his mistress is that he can go from big and friendly to attack dog at his mistress' command.
Subverted in Blackout, also by Joe the Mastiff, who ferociously attacks a few zombies when an outbreak occurs at Shady Cove.
Becks: That's disgusting. Oh jeez. Is that a spleen? Shaun: I think that's a spleen, yes. (Joe barks at Shaun) It's okay, Joe. We're not hurt. Becks: How cute. The big dog is concerned. Shaun: Someone's got to be.
Big Red Button: A lot of Buffy's tech has this, to accommodate less tech-savvy users. It's also unnerving for the other characters, since most people in this universe are very much averse to the color red, which befits her Playful Hacker trait.
Bi the Way: several, the most outstanding being Maggie's comment in "Blackout" about herself and Buffy in the hotel.
Black Sheep: Becks. She's the scion of a rich old money family. They wanted her to go to Vassar, find a nice, well-bred husband, and settle down. When they found out she went into the news, and being an Irwin at that, they disowned her.
"Mom? Dad? The next horrible thing I do in public is for you. I hope you choke on it."
"Look, Ma! I'm abducting the president! Aren't you proud of your baby girl now?"
Blatant Lies: What you tell someone who's just been bitten by a zombie or shot with a KA-loaded dart until the test results come up, such as:
"He just bit her. There's a chance his saliva hadn't gone live yet."
"You're going to be fine."
Ruminated on in a couple of blog entries in Deadline.
In most cases where this happens, the victim is usually already resigned to their fate, unlike their unfortunate companion who has to deal with the fallout.
Body Language: The fact that Team After The End Times has hidden cameras in their clothing, hair, and accessories means their body language may be natural — or it may be to give a camera a better shot.
But for non-camera related body language? Pay close attention to Shaun and Georgia's.
Glasses Pull: Subverted. Georgia lowers her sunglasses specifically to get good looks at people's faces or to take advantage of her own creepy eyes.
Boom, Headshot: Not generally recommended due to dangerous proximity to active infected, but happens at least once in Feed.
Maybe not recommended at short ranges, but headshots ensure that a living human or a recently-infected one will not reanimate after death.
In Blackout, headshots take on a different significance for Becks after it's revealed how Georgia II was able to retain the original Georgia Mason's memories with 97% accuracy through neural snapshotting; as long as the zombie's brain is intact, a reanimated person's memories can be captured and transferred onto a clone brain.
The Fox intentionally averts this against a group of CDC soldiers, so that the ones she killed previously would reanimate and distract the survivors.
An alternate ending to Feed — in which some things panned out differently at the climax for our heroes — was originally on the author's Face Book page as part of the run-up to Blackout, but is now on issuu.com
Born Lucky: Shaun Phillip Mason. So lucky he can have zombies grabbing at him but never become infected or start amplifying, even with hot blood nearby.
As of Deadline, we discover it may not be as much luck as it originally appeared; Shaun is actually immune to KA.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted. People run out of ammo, and Shaun is the first to call them out on trying to reload with zombies lurching around.
Break the Cutie/Haughty: Kelly Connolly. Who goes from naively believing in and defending the work the CDC is doing to discovering how much harm they've been doing in the name of amassing power (keeping the populace afraid, and refining Kellis-Amberlee to behave in worse and worse ways before putting any effort into a cure) to being betrayed by her much-respected colleague and mentor to being zombified and killed off.
Brick Joke: In Deadline, Maggie hands Shaun an envelope filled with cash, as well as a company credit card, before Shaun, Becks, Mahir and Dr. Kelly Connolly head off to Memphis. She explains that her parents won't mind them using it, unless he used it to buy a submarine or something. Later, when they get to Memphis, Mahir comments that calling breaking into the CDC "fucking impossible" would require something in the way of ninjas, and wonders where one would order them. Shaun says it's the same place where you get the submarines.
Georgia: "We're past saying it and all the way to doing it."
Broken Bird: Wow. In The Day The Dead Came To Show And Tell, it's revealed that Elaine Oldenburg, the teacher who nearly lost her entire first-grade class in a devastating school outbreak, is Foxy, the dangerously insane girl from the Brainpan.
The majority of the novel highlights how Dr. Kelly Connolly's perceptions of the CDC - the company she literally grew into - start to change and grow darker with each new revelation regarding the true nature of the reservoir conditions. This reaches its culmination when her boss, Dr. Joseph Wynne, reveals himself to be part of the conspiracy to subdue the human adaptation of reservoir conditions, and then threatens her life. He is killed, but unfortunately not before he shoots her with a KA-loaded dart.
The Wall is a monument to every human casualty of Kellis-Amberlee, listing their names and their final blog posts, if any. Before Georgia died in Feed, she regarded the Wall as "the ultimate monument to truth; a universally accepted model of the world as it is, not as we want it to be." People like Georgia, Buffy, Dave and even Governor Tate are commemorated there, regardless of what they did when they were alive. After Shaun, Becks and Mahir escape the Memphis CDC, Shaun calls Alaric to tell Maggie to lock down her home, and realizes that Dr. Kelly Connolly's death cannot be memorialized on the Wall, as the world thinks that she's been Dead All Along, and that was not due to Kellis-Amberlee. The real Kelly did die of KA, but the clone that the rest of the world recognized as her did not. Georgia - inside Shaun's head - comments on this:
Imaginary!Georgia: I guess there's nothing in the world that can't lie to us. I think I'm glad I died before I found that out.
Brother-Sister Incest: Georgia and Shaun had a sexual relationship, revealed in Deadline. It's social incest, not genetic incest as they are not blood relations, and actually went to a geneticist to confirm they are not.
In Blackout, Georgia II, to prove herself to Shaun, refers to this as the "one thing we never wrote down." When Shaun calls her out on this, she kisses him in front of Becks and Mahir.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Buffy intentionally cultivates the image of the space case ditz, but she's the Techno Wizard of the group, and tends to grab attention so that Shaun and George can stay in the background and pick up details.
From Deadline onwards, Shaun assumes a darker version of this trope. He's steadily going crazy by his own admission - and the rest of his team knows it - yet they still choose to follow him and place their lives in his hands on various occasions.
The Fox, one of the Brainpan members. On the surface, she acts like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (along with affectionate behavior towards The Monkey), but she shows herself to be very competent in the field when their hideout is attacked by the CDC. Before she met The Monkey (and when her name was Elaine), she showed manic-depressive traits; afterwards, she's arguably just manic.
Call Back: Feed and Deadline both start with an Irwin and a Newsie in the field poking a zombie and getting surrounded by a horde, though there is a Gender Flip. Blackout starts with almost the same words, but in a very different context.
Feed: "Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot - in this case my brother Shaun - deciding it would be a good idea to poke a zombie with a stick and see what happens." Deadline: "Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-seven years: with an idiot - in this case Rebecca "Becks" Atherton, head of the After the End Times Irwins, winner of the Golden Steve-o award for valor in the face of the undead - deciding it would be a good idea to poke a zombie with a stick and see what happens." Blackout: "My story ended where so many stories have ended since the Rising: with a man - in this case my adoptive brother and best friend, Shaun..."
In Feed, before Georgia's last post, she narrates, "Was it worth it? God, I hope so." In Blackout, before Georgia II interviews President Ryman on a live blog feed, Alaric asks, "Was it worth it?" She replies, "God, I hope so."
From Georgia's last post in Feed: "My name is Georgia Mason, and I am begging you. Rise up while you can." From Georgia II's interview with President Ryman in Blackout: "My name is Peter Ryman, and I am begging you. Rise up while you can."
After the events of Feed, Shaun changes the name of his blog from "Hail to the King" to "Adaptive Immunities". But take a look at the final blog post in Blackout...
He actually starts using his old blog once Georgia II gets her blog running again.
From Images May Disturb You: Miss me? From Hail to the King: Hell yes.
Caught on Tape: Commonplace for the main cast. They generally don't go anywhere without recording devices on them. However, after the events of Deadline, they are forced to stay off the grid, unable to post anything without exposing themselves to the CDC.
Played straight in the climax of Blackout; when the CDC doctor claims that the details of the conspiracy - which he just divulged in an attempt to get them to his side - will not leave the White House, Georgia II simply calls out to her team:
Georgia II: Anybody here who doesn't have six cameras running, raise your hand. (Shaun, Becks and Alaric keep their hands down)
Played with in San Diego 2014: Dwight and Rebecca got the power back on, and thus a very small amount of the security camera footage of the crisis was salvaged.
Catch Phrase: Shaun has a tendency to say "Check this out" before he does something interesting or foolish.
Elle, who portrays a character on a TV show, gets hers quoted to her by Patty in San Diego 2014'.
Mahir develops one in HGTLHBTS: "Is there tea?"
Celibate Hero: Shaun has an adoring harem of fangirls that would probably Fan Mob him if given the chance, but he doesn't have a publicly known significant other; and Georgia, who doesn't even pretend to have a publicly known Love Interest.
Cell Phones Are Useless: In San Diego 2014 some well-intentioned person mistakes the outbreak for a riot and shuts down power and wireless. Part of the goal for some characters is to get it turned back on so they can call for help.
And subverted by the Tutt family who got the cellphones which also operate as walkie-talkies due to a history with the Con and its spotty cell service.
Character Blog: The chapters are bookended by excerpts from the blogs of the Masons and the After The End Times bloggers.
Blackout also includes some posts written by Michael and Stacy Mason, dated around the time of the Rising.
Citizenship Marriage: Jack and Juliet, although it is implied that this is a common practice because the Australian accent has become synonymous with "survival" in the post-Rising world.
Clones Are People Too: Legally speaking, they're not. But Subject 7c is kind of a special case, one that a certain blogger is willing to defend with extreme prejudice.
Cloning Blues: Subject 7c starts out with this, along with some understandable identity crisis issues, but starts to get over them when she meets the EIS agents and is informed of their plan to break her out. Near the end of Blackout, Shaun invokes this to get Georgia II to leave when he is asked by the CDC doctor to take their side. It turns out they were only pretending, however, so that Georgia II can make plans along with Dr. Shoji, Rick and Steve to rescue President Ryman's family and allow the rest of her team to leave the White House alive.
Code Name: More like coded e-mail address, but used for essentially the same purpose by Dr. Abbey, who wanted to share information with Shaun without giving away who she was to anyone but his team. She uses the name TauntedOctopus, which Shaun figured out as a reference to the KA-infected giant octopus in her lab, as well as the t-shirt she was wearing, "Don't taunt the octopus."
The Brainpan, whose members are The Monkey, The Cat, and The Fox. The Fox's real name is Elaine, and The Cat used to be called Jane. As for the Monkey, when Shaun addresses him as "Mr. Monkey," he simply replies that "Mr. Monkey" was his father.
Conflicting Loyalty: Buffy's are what cause her to sell out Shaun and Georgia for her religious beliefs.
In Blackout, the Masons' house is bugged by the CDC, and once Shaun realizes both he and Becks have been set up after they're already inside the house and planning a route to Florida, he confronts his adoptive parents and they reveal the extent of their betrayal of him. Thankfully, the Masons come around and allow Shaun and Becks to escape the CDC, as well as promise to carry out their intended mission to rescue Alaric's sister in Florida.
Cool Teacher: Professor Michael Mason. When The Rising began, he made his biology students support their position of concern that there might be actual zombies, and then, on the chance they were right, dismissed the class on the condition they stay together and keep their eyes and ears open.
Counting to Three: George and Shaun's long honed habit for simultaneous blood testing. They do it on "two" because trouble remembering or difficulty speaking are both signs of conversion.
Crazy-Prepared: Shaun Mason. He has several laws memorized. He has proficiencies in multiple types of zombie-killing weaponry and has since childhood. He can look at a building and determine in seconds how suited for a zombie siege it may be. He has maps memorized of the area around his home.
In Blackout, when an outbreak occurs in Dr. Abbey's new lab, instead of stocking up on ammo inside the armory, he grabs as many loaded pistols as he can stuff into his belt, to save time on reloading.
Rebecca Atherton as well — she turned up with a sniper rifle even Shaun hadn't been aware she owned; and later, a semi-auto that was not legally cleared for private ownership.
Becks: Better overprepared than totally screwed.
And she managed to get a grenade into the White House.
In Blackout, Georgia II gains access to the After the End Times website through one of the back doors that Buffy had scattered throughout the Internet, in case a team member needed access but didn't have their equipment.
Cure For Cancer: Marburg-Amberlee. It works, but it co-mutated with the cure for the common cold and the combined virus is what causes zombies.
Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Both Georgia and Emily have retinal Kellis-Amberlee, which keeps their irises from contracting in response to light. Both wear sunglasses or inhabit low-light conditions, both have visual damage caused by excessive light exposure.
Dead Guy Junior: Shaun's middle name is Phillip. The name of the Masons' biological son who Stacy Mason had to shoot when he converted? Phillip.
Dead Woman Writing: Buffy leaves a video recording apologizing for and confessing to her part in the conspiracy. Also, Georgia's last post - typed in after she got hit with a dart filled with live-state KA - is made out before Shaun is forced to shoot her lest she infect him as well.
Mahir Gowda. Considering he was Georgia's second, and took her place after her death in Feed, it makes sense.
Shaun and Becks, mostly with each other.
Death from Above: The method the government (at least in the United States) will use when they have decided an outbreak is too big/unmanageable to handle with troops on the ground. A fuel-air bomb dropped on the outbreak site gets the job done.
In Deadline, Dave Novakowski, one of the Irwins, is killed this way, in a Heroic Sacrifice to allow the rest of the crew to escape the outbreak in Oakland.
This is also what happens to Dr. Abbey's husband Joe in Canada, an incident which disillusions her to the supposed good intentions of the CDC.
This is apparently a method the United States started using immediately upon realizing what Kellis-Amberlee could do, as it's how the outbreak was contained in San Diego 2014.
Decontamination Shower: So commonplace that the majority of the population has blonde streaks in their hair from daily bleach sprays. Considered the normal and polite thing to do, since smelling either of bleach or the citrusy lotion to repair bleach damage to skin is an olfactory indicator one has recently been decontaminated.
In Countdown, Dr. Alexander Kellis, once the Rising had begun because of what his research had contributed to the disaster and the loss of his beloved husband. And in a particularly rough example, Dr. Wells committed suicide by letting his converted zombie family attack him and turn him.
The main character in Everglades, choosing the particularly gruesome death by zombie rather than the quick, tidy method of getting shot.
In Feed, Susan, one of the security guards gets everyone to safety before shooting herself after being infected.
In the alternate ending for Feed, it's Georgia Mason who commits suicide because she meant it when she said she didn't want to live in a world without Shaun.
This scenario is referenced in Blackout, both by Georgia inside Shaun's head, and by Georgia II. Shaun and Georgia II eventually realize that this was what the people behind the conspiracy were aiming for. They knew that if they killed Shaun, Georgia would just accept Tate as the grand villain and let him die a martyr; she wouldn't have the will to continue looking deeper into the conspiracy, and then she would just kill herself in despair.
In Deadline, Professor Brannon - one of three scientists contacted by After The End Times to do some research for them - shoots himself afterwards, but not before giving his findings to Mahir.
In Blackout, we find out that the Democratic candidate for President did this after her loss.
Dr. Thomas also falls into this trope after Georgia II's escape.
Dr. Thomas: Please send someone to clean my lab, as I am about to get blood all over the walls.
In Feed, according to Rick, this happened with his wife Lisa, who had ovarian KA, after their son Ethan underwent spontaneous amplification and had to be killed.
Drowning My Sorrows: In Feed, after Senator Ryman learns that the outbreak on the family ranch was deliberately caused by some party as yet unknown, killing his daughter, parents-in-law, and a large percentage of employees, he expresses intent to "get very, very drunk" once he's broken the news to his wife.
Dystopia/Crapsack World: Let's see: Zombies are real, and they walk the earth. Every mammal over 40 pounds will become one upon death. Many food animals are included in this situation. When one's blood test comes back for an amplification one is legally required by law to shoot the person dead. There is no cure. Certain parts of the world had to be ceded to the zombies and evacuated because there was no reliable way to get rid of enough to make the areas safe for habitation. It's not safe to hang out in large crowds anymore. Agoraphobia is a common condition. And, oh yeah, since the Rising, a global conspiracy has arisen to keep people afraid so that anything is permissible in the name of keeping safe from the zombie threat. This results in a second Rising.
Dying as Yourself: Apparently, this is Michael Mason's main rule in the field; if you're trapped in an outbreak with no hope of escape, save a bullet for yourself. It's better than the alternative.
Rick Cousins is determined that any person he cares about who goes into amplification will die before the conversion robs them of their mind.
Georgia Mason, to Shaun, after Buffy gets infected: "I hired her. It's my job to fire her." To Buffy, before shooting her: "Your name is Georgette Marie Meissonier."
Rebecca Atherton seems also to share this mindset, making sure that Kelly Connolly has enough bullets that she can die remembering her own name after she has been forcibly injected with live-state KA.
Earn Your Happy Ending: the end of Blackout. Sure, there's still zombies out there, but almost all of our main characters end on a happy note. Mahir gets back to his wife Nandini and has a daughter named Sanjukta, Alaric and Maggie get married, and Shaun and Georgia II are together somewhere in Canada, contacting Mahir only occasionally.
Shaun: "Anyone coming within a hundred yards of my happy ending had better pray they're immune to bullets."
Everything's Better with Princesses: Snarkily subverted as Kelly Connolly got the nickname "Princess" as something half-affectionate, half-pejorative, depending on who said it. And considering that her arrival at the offices of After The End Times started the series of events leading to things deteriorating rapidly.
Everything's Better With Sparkles: Buffy Messonier lives the trope, having tiny holo-foil butterflies in her hair and little sequins and mirrors attached to her clothing. Of course, most of them are cleverly disguised hidden cameras.
Evil Gloating: The main villains of the novels do this, but in the second book, the villain goes so far as to detail his plan to Shaun, Becks and Mahir.
First Name Basis: Georgia refers to Senator Ryman as "Senator Ryman" out of respect, and "Peter" when she gets to know him better. But Governor Tate she refers to as "Governor Tate" because it's professional to refer to him thus... and "Tate" the rest of the time because she dislikes him immensely.
Flash Back: Shaun has a few to the events in the van in Sacramento.
Flipping the Bird: A common response to security cameras by Shaun, and to Shaun by Becks.
Foreign Cuss Word: Never on the actual page, but Shaun describes some of the creative swearing in Cantonese Alaric does at various points in Deadline.
In one instance, Alaric's swearing slips into English before he can respond to Shaun calling his attention.
Foreshadowing: Several subtle examples throughout the main novels.
One of the more lighthearted examples:
Becks: (seeing a horde of zombies closing in) Oh, fuck me. Shaun: (on the intercom) Maybe later.
In Deadline, Shaun states repeatedly that KA will never kill him, as it's too easy a way out for him. His blog is named "Adaptive Immunities." Guess who's revealed to be immune to KA at the end of the novel?
In Deadline, in Shaun's visual hallucinations of Georgia, her eyes are normal. In Blackout, Georgia II's eyes turn out normal as well.
The similarity keeps him from being convinced that Georgia II isn't a hallucination, until Becks and Mahir confirm that they can see her as well. Later, however, he thinks that those particular hallucinations helped him to get used to Georgia II's normal eyes.
A brief exchange in Deadline seems to hint at what happens in the climax of Blackout:
CDC Director Swenson: Ah, an Irwin. You know, I've always like that term. Irwin, for the late, great Steve Irwin. He died in the field, you know. Just the way he would have wanted to go. Becks: (muttering) No shit, asshole.
Friend to All Living Things: Magdalene. She has a pack of at least six rescue teacup bulldogs, and immediately takes to bestowing lovings and snuggles on the amplification-size Joe the mastiff, when everybody else is freaked out by the dog that could kill and zombify them all.
From Bad to Worse: Virtually the entire series runs on this trope, considering that it begins with humanity discovering not only the cure for cancer, but also a cure for the common cold.
Countdown is a brilliant study in how this trope works once the Mayday Army releases the Kellis cure.
Feed has its share of things going rapidly and more spectacularly downhill as well.
In Deadline, not only do we find out that the CDC is part of the conspiracy ... they're responsible for the deaths of people with reservoir conditions because those people are starting to develop immunity to the live virus. They're also responsible for every outbreak since the Rising, because they've been genetically engineering new strains of KA to try to defeat the tendency to generate immunities. And if that's not bad enough — Tropical Storm Fiona arrives, bearing mosquitoes capable of carrying and transmitting live state Kellis-Amberlee, causing a second Rising and causing the government to write off the state of Florida as unrecoverable due to zombie infestation.
In Blackout, it's confirmed that there's no cure for KA that will leave humans alive, so there will never be one. The only possible improvement on the condition are the rare folks with reservoir conditions, and the government would rather infect everyone with the same strain of no-reservoir KA with their engineered mosquitoes than leave the possibility out there that some folks could be immune from zombification. And they're willing to kidnap the President's wife (with a reservoir condition) and family to force him into going along with this.
Full Name Ultimatum: Georgia and Shaun both used each other's full names when they were playfully annoyed with each other.
Calling Lorelei by her full name: "Lorelei Jezebelle Tutt" was how her father Shawn made the point that he was extremely serious.
Genetic Memory: Subverted. The scientists working on the clones in this case found ways of replicating memories to 97% accuracy via electrical impulse manipulation.
Genre Savvy: The major population of Berkeley, California, and a bunch of knowing Geeks who'd seen a lot of zombie movies and knew what was happening even before the news media stopped treating it as a joke.
Guns Akimbo: Becks in Deadline early on, though Shaun mentions being a fan of the style later in the book. In Blackout, The Fox also does this.
Hallucinations: As a symptom of the Sanity Slippage began at the end of Feed, Shaun Mason suffers very significant ones in Deadline when his stress level rises: he goes from hearing Georgia in his head, to actually seeing her as if she were standing right there, and at times even feeling her fingers touching him: once in a crisis of confidence after hearing about how George might have survived getting infected, and again when he tries to find Buffy's wireless transmitter in their van.
In Blackout, these hallucinations occur more often, even right in the middle of a field situation.
Happily Married: As seen in Countdown, Stacy and Michael Mason, and Alexander and John Kellis.
Senator Peter Ryman and his wife, Emily.
Mahir Gowda and his wife Nandini.
Happy Dance: You would think you wouldn't see much happy-dancing in a 'verse where the Zombie Apocalypse is a daily danger. You'd be mistaken. In Deadline, Alaric does one when Shaun shows up, guns and taser baton blazing, to draw off a zombie mob and get him and Becks safely out of the danger zone.
Harmful Healing: Both Dr. Kellis and Dr. Wells had the best of intentions in creating their viruses to get rid of colds and cancer, respectively. They had no idea about each other's work that we know of, nor did they (or anyone else) realize what could and did happen when their creations met until it happened. Kellis also couldn't really have anticipated the Mayday Army releasing his project prematurely.
Hazmat Suit: Commonplace in the CDC and WHO headquarters, but they will also show up that way on the site of an outbreak or location where hot blood has been indicated.
As proof of how rich and connected she is, Maggie's super fierce security team also has them when the situation calls for it.
Hearing Voices: Insane variation. Shaun has such a hard time coping with the death of Georgia that his subconscious conjures up a simulacrum of her. She talks to him, and he talks back. It wigs out everybody on the team except Mahir, who takes it all in stride.
Granted, Mahir isn't convinced Shaun isn't being straight-up haunted, rather than simply crazy.
Heroic BSOD: It's implied this happened to the Masons when they had to kill their own son; the narration notes that that was back before doing something like that wouldn't completely break someone.
Shaun, immediately after having to shoot Georgia, which leads directly to his Sanity Slippage.
Shaun lampshades this in the first page of Deadline:
That's apparently the only thing anyone thinks I'm doing these days. I'm "coping". There are days when I feel like I'm never going to be allowed to do anything else. I'm going to walk through my life being Shaun Mason, The Dude Who Copes.
In Blackout, a lot of Georgia Mason clones go through this after certain levels of stress, until the CDC finally gets it right with Subject 7c onwards.
Rebecca Ryman, 3 months from graduating high school, bridled a post-amplification horse and got her little sisters to safety at the cost of her own life. And all while her father and mother were onstage accepting the nomination for Republican presidential candidate.
Dave, who goes back to the apartments to hold off the anti-zombie measures so everyone else could get safely out and away from the Oakland apartment — which means he doesn't ever get out.
Kelly. She was going to amplify anyway thanks to being shot with a live virus dart. So she waits for the security guards and gives Shaun and company a chance to escape.
Becks makes the hard choice to stay behind and let the rest of the party escape the airlock at the White House, and kills herself along with the zombies using a grenade which she was able to sneak inside.
Averted with Shaun, who jumps in the way of a KA-loaded dart aimed at President Ryman and demonstrates his immunity to the virus.
San Diego 2014:
Rebecca; once discovering the garage is full of infected, she locks the door into the Convention Center so they can't get in.
Likewise Elle Riley, who uses her Action Girl training for her role in her TV show to hold down a newly converted zombie so the others can escape.
He's Dead, Jim: It's a zombie-populated world. Lots of the 'grievous bodily injury' method prevalent.
And subverted in a particularly odd way. Once someone's KA infection goes from dormant to active, and their blood tests confirm this, they are legally dead even if they're still walking, talking, and capable of thought.
Hide Your Gays: Subverted. There's a government representative who is married to another woman, and Dr. Alexander Kellis' husband John is mentioned in Countdown, all done normally like there's nothing special to it.
And played straight in San Diego 2014: Elle's relationship was a closely guarded secret because her show's demographic was heterosexual males who dug on her big green eyes and her big boobs.
Honor Before Reason: Team After the End Times was well aware things were starting to turn deadly and dangerous, but Georgia's quest for the truth kept them on task even after people started dying.
Shaun in particular because he's got a death wish after the events in Feed but won't give in to it until he's dug up the reasons behind what happened in Eakly, Memphis, and Sacramento.
Idiot Ball: Shaun and Becks were super careful about sweeping Kelly for bugs when she showed up in Deadline, but didn't stop to think that anybody in the Brainpan might've bugged them in Blackout. That comes back to bite them, later — hard.
If I Do Not Return: Invoked occasionally by Shaun whenever he leaves some of his team members behind before heading out to do something dangerous.
Invoked by Dwight and Rebecca in San Diego 2014.
If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Played with. The entire house in Weed is glowering at Shaun the morning after he and Becks sleep together, because they're not sure if he was toying with Becks's emotions or not.
I Have Your Wife: How the brains behind the conspiracy got President Peter Ryman to cooperate with them. They kidnapped his wife (and his children).
I Never Said It Was Poison: In Deadline, this is how Shaun - actually, Georgia inside his head realizes it first - finds out that Dr. Wynne's intentions for sending Kelly to them were not as good as they thought they were. According to Dr. Wynne, Shaun said Kelly died in Oakland, but Shaun never mentioned who he left behind when Oakland was bombed. Shaun concludes, not only that Kelly was being tracked by Dr. Wynne, but also that he planned to have all of them killed once Kelly got to them.
Inexplicably Identical Individuals: It was mentioned in Feed how much Kelly looks like Buffy, much to the distress of Georgia and Shaun. The resemblance is taken Up to Eleven in Deadline once they are forced to put her in Buffy's clothing.
Mahir's wife Nandini, despite being Indian, bears an inexplicable resemblance to Georgia.
Given that he had a thing for Georgia for a while, it's presumably part of what drew him to her.
The Immune: Dr. Abbey managed to breed a dog that is essentially immune by dint of intentionally induced reservoir conditions.
More traditionally, Shaun.
Infant Immortality: It's a series full of zombies. Subverted for the elder Masons' biological child and Rick's son. And for lots of cute animals.
In Harm's Way: The personality type that leads to people becoming Irwins.
Inner Monologue: All three books have substantial parts of the narration done this way. Sometimes it's an inner dialogue.
Instant Death Bullet: Justified in that the overwhelming majority of anything getting shot at is already dead, and this is just putting them down for good.
Insult of Endearment: Shaun and his team use "Princess" as a pejorative for Dr. Kelly Connolly, in reference to her being the granddaughter of Dr. Matras, but as the story progresses and they realize that she was naive and misguided in some ways, the vitriol drains from the once-insulting nickname.
Irony: Several occasions throughout Deadline. Dave refers to this in describing his situation when he chooses to stay behind during an outbreak in Oakland so that the rest of the team can escape.
Dave: I take my hands off the controls, the building goes into lockdown. I stay here, I could let people out - or I could, if there were any people left - but I can't escape. Irony in action, ladies an-
And again in Deadline when Becks and Shaun realize that someone set them up inside the Portland CDC.
Jerk Ass: Shaun, as of Deadline. He's having so much trouble with his Sanity Slippage and just trying to function that he does all manner of jerky things — many of which are him simply not realizing what a jerk he's being.
Jerk Ass With A Heart Of Gold: Of course, Shaun doesn't mean to be a jackass; thankfully, the rest of his team understands this as well. It takes Kelly a while to realize this, though.
Killed Mid-Sentence: Understandable for a zombie apocalypse series. Somewhat less so when a live blog post is interrupted, instead of the usual recording or video feed, though. Both Georgia and Dave die this way.
Kill It with Fire: One of the ways the living keeps the zombie numbers down in low-threat zones that aren't considered livable just yet.
And one of the ways certain secure facilities make sure an amplification case never gets beyond an elevator, garage or antechamber once it's gotten in.
Land Downunder: How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea covers how the Rising went down in Australia. Australians tend to regard to walking dead as just one more bit of dangerous wildlife: take reasonable precautions and go armed, no worries mate.
Lighter and Softer: How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea is about as happy as this series gets. Australia is far more pleasant to live in than the rest of the world until the mosquitoes eventually hit, anyway and the residents have more freedom, despite their "Murderworld" reputation. Heck, no humans even die in this book! That's a damn miracle in Newsflesh!
Lonely Rich Kid: Magdalene Garcia. She is the heiress to one of the biggest and most powerful pharmaceutical companies in the world, and wields a lot of power because of it even though she's not actually in the pharmaceutical field. She lives in a giant farmhouse with state of the art security, and invites people over for horror movie parties on the regular because she's lonesome.
Love Makes You Crazy: Shaun. He and Georgia were so close that losing her to KA courtesy of David Tate literally drove him crazy.
Mad Doctor: Dr. Abbey, who is mad in practically every sense of the word; driven so by the knowledge that the CDC found it cheaper to air-bomb a university campus with a majority of non-infected (including her husband) than to try containing the outbreak, and that they also are not really working toward finding a cure for Kellis-Amberlee. She has experimented on insects, arachnids, dogs, and an octopus.
Shaun comments on this when he sees Dr. Abbey's dog Joe attacking the zombies when an outbreak occurs in her lab:
Shaun: It probably says something about Dr. Abbey that she named her massive black English mastiff after her dead husband and used him for illegal medical experiments. I'm not sure what it says, exactly.
Mad Science: In addition to the weirdness going on in the lab in Oregon, there's also cloning going on. To say nothing of what the CDC is doing with tailoring Kellis-Amberlee to be worse than it was when it happened by accident.
As if the Georgia Mason clones themselves weren't enough, they are also implanted with biological bombs filled with sea wasp jellyfish venom which are triggered by certain words or actions, in order to keep them from compromising their main purpose — as bait for Shaun.
It's pretty funny in its own way that bringing Georgia back as a cloned version of her original self with memories 97% intact is what totally blows everyone's minds, makes them think the impossible can be done, and clues them in that they live in a sci-fi universe.
When anyone who dies reanimates as a zombie, a little sabotage of the safety equipment can make it look like things were just unfortunate for the Ryman caravan at the wrong time.
When any mammal over 40 pounds can become a zombie, people are not likely to think anything but "well, it was a horse ranch — sad but it was bound to happen sooner or later."
In Deadline it is discovered that the high rate of death among people with reservoir conditions was a lot of murders made to look like accidents.
Male Gaze: On the trip back from Memphis to Weed, in a gas stop, Becks intentionally puts on a tight tank top and a pair of hot pink shorts to attract the male gaze in case her face was on the news.
Becks: Next time, you're wearing the "look at my titties" shirt, and I'm filling the tank. Shaun: See, I wouldn't get the same results with that shirt. I just don't have the figure for it. Mahir might do a little better. We can try it next time we stop.
In Blackout, Shaun falls victim to this trope, with Maggie:
Shaun: You look... Maggie: Like the heir to Garcia Pharmaceuticals. You like? Shaun: Uh...
(Shaun describes Maggie's heiress-appropriate attire at length in narration)
Becks: It's Shaun, Maggie, and you're a girl. He has no idea what the safe answer is, and he's going to vapor-lock until you change the subject.
Elle's narration in San Diego 2014 describes how much of her role is organized around her taking deep breaths and wearing bikinis.
Mama Bear: Emily Ryman. She has taken a motherly liking to the bloggers and slaps her husband's running mate for treating them disrespectfully. And let's not even get into how she reacts when you mess with her family.
The Maze: All CDC installations are built this way intentionally. Zombies are not good at doing complicated route planning.
Meaningful Name: The Masons. Masons build things. Stacy and Michael built a reputation for themselves, and their kids, Shaun and Georgia, built a blog site all the way from baby blogger to alpha blogger status.
Zombie hero/monster slayer names became de rigeur:
Shaun from Shaun of the Dead
Georgia as a tribute to George Romero
and Buffy because (paraphrasing) what else do you call a cute blonde girl who deals with the undead on a day to day basis?
Early in Feed, Georgia mentions that the most common female names in her generation, born within a few years after the Rising, are Georgia, Georgette (Buffy's legal first name), or Barbara.
Men Don't Cry: Subverted by Dr. Alexander Kellis, who not only cried openly, but repeatedly, after his untested virus was released by the Mayday Army.
Subverted, by Rick, who is not ashamed to cry when something hurts, upsets, or grieves him.
Upheld by Shaun, who does cry as well, but mostly not where anyone can see it.
Subverted by Alaric, who cries openly, but perhaps also upheld because he was amongst his closest colleagues and friends.
Shawn Tutt is a played-with version of the trope. He could hold his own tears back only so long as he didn't see his wife cry.
Motive Rant: Tate, who, unlike the Mayday Army, is not so well-intentioned an extremist; and explains that he's only doing it to get the country to turn back toward God.
Dr Wynne in Deadline goes off on a more subdued one that raises almost as many questions as it answers.
Must Have Caffeine: Georgia and Shaun consume heroic amounts of Coke and coffee, respectively.
New Content Countdown Clock: Taken to a new level as it's a countdown clock containing new content! In the spring of 2011, Seanan McGuire posted vignettes from the Newsflesh-verse on her blog to countdown the days to the Rising and until the release of Deadline. These are not spoilers because Georgia went over most of the stories being expanded on in Feed.
The bloggers, because of their geeky connections, believed the Zombie uprising was happening and started to warn the world while the mainstream media was still snickering up its sleeves at what it thought was a joke. As a result, the public trusts bloggers more than regular news reporters afterward.
Social Media was vital in the time of the Rising. People posting on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube advised people of what to do with the dead once they got up, and also advised people who to stay away from, once they'd been bitten.
Never Got to Say Goodbye: Poor Maggie has this problem a lot. In Feed, Buffy dies before Maggie can tell her. In Deadline, Dave died in the bombing of Oakland. Dave admitted his feelings on digital recording right before he died, but Maggie didn't get to tell him how she felt at all. Even in Blackout, Mahir gets the unfortunate task of telling her of Becks's Heroic Sacrifice.
Played with in San Diego 2014: Elle Riley, believing that she was about to die and the only way she'd get to say goodbye was in the form of Dead Man Writing from her posthumous personal effects, wrote an email to her girlfriend saying goodbye while the wireless was out...but then the wireless was restored.
If It Bleeds, It Leads: Justified, because if somebody's bleeding, there's the potential for an outbreak, and that's in the public's interest to mention first.
Intrepid Reporter: Georgia. Dedicated to the truth to the point where when Ryman wanted to send her team home, she became offended that they'd leave in the middle of the story.
Manipulative Editing: Stalnaker, in Countdown, creatively interpreted the facts about Kellis' cold/flu cure, and the way he phrased the story, incited the Mayday Army to break in and release it.
Paparazzi: Mostly outdated by 2039 because some celebrity freaked out and started shooting. They tend only to show up in large numbers when The Masons (Stacy and Michael) are out for ratings, or for major political events.
The government clamps down hard on any would-be news reporters or bloggers who attempt to post inside Florida, which has been designated a Level 1 hazard zone late in Deadline.
Practical Voice Over: The beta bloggers do some of these for Eakly when George and Shaun are too wiped out to do their own.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Brandon Majors, legend in his own mind, thought he was saving the human race by releasing the Kellis cure. His inspiration, "journalist" Robert Stalnaker, also counts.
Night-Vision Goggles: In Feed, Steve's standard-issue sunglasses turn out to be one of these as well. Shaun is understandably impressed, and jealous.
No Bisexuals: Subverted. Before Dave, Maggie had also been in love with Buffy. Confirmed in Blackout when Maggie describes having taken Buffy to her room in the Agora hotel to celebrate Buffy's hiring at After the End Times. Also, Olivia and Hotaru in HGTLHBTS.
Maggie: She wasn't the first, and she won't be the last.
No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Generally not recommended because it puts one in bite range, but used to dispatch Buffy before she finished conversion and rose again. Also with George; after getting infected, Shaun keeps his gun pointed at the back of her neck, to minimize the blood spatter, as she types her last post.
Countdown, Everglades and San Diego 2014, all published after Feed, take place during the Rising, which is already history by the time Feed begins.
Not Blood Siblings: Georgia and Shaun were born six weeks apart before they were adopted, and therefore could not possibly have had the same biological mother. They're revealed in Deadline to have been sexually intimate as well.
At the CDC after they receive Dr. Kellis' research info.
Again after a research lab blows up.
In Berkeley, Professor Mason has one when his students draw to his attention there may be an actual Zombie Apocalypse.
Several moments in Feed but particularly after the convoy hits problems on its way to Texas.
In Deadline, when Shaun and Becks discover why their pell-mell flight from Memphis met with no pursuit.
And again in Deadline when Shaun and Becks arrive back at Maggie's home and find her security team pretty much loaded for bear and then some.
In San Diego 2014 when Lorelei gets her parents on the phone and tells them the authorities are not even attempting a rescue; they're just going to blow up the convention center.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Doc. Justified in that online she is Barbara Tinney, guest blogger, but in reality she is Dr. Kelly Connolly, who was supposedly killed in a tragic break-in at the CDC.
"The Monkey" — apparently the best fake ID guy in the world, and responsible for Kelly's false identification.
The rest of his team at The Brainpan: The Cat and The Fox (and The Wolf, departed). The Cat insists on only being referred to as such, but The Monkey - after finding out that The Cat put a tracker on Dr. Kelly Connolly's ID unbeknownst to him - calls her by her real name, Jane.
One of Us: The author mentions in an interview near the end of Feed that she enjoyed writing it because it let her binge on zombie movies as 'research'.
And in an in-universe case: Elle is a fan turned actress turned fan-fave as the star of Space Crime Continuum, who has to struggle with people who don't really believe she's a genuine geek.
One Steve Limit: Subverted. In a world where George Romero's movies end up being vital to the survival of the human race, a lot of people are named after him, even girls, with female variants including Georgia, Georgette, etc. In Blackout, one of the EIS agents who helps Georgia II escape is named George, and at the end, the new head of the Irwins after Becks's Heroic Sacrifice is named George as well - shortened to "Geo" to avoid confusion.
There are three characters named Rebecca - the Rymans' eldest daughter, and "Becks" Atherton, one of the After the End Times Irwins. The third one appears in San Diego 2014.
There are also two characters named David: Governor David Tate, and David Novakowski.
A second Shawn appears in San Diego 2014 predating the fad for naming children after zombie killer Action Survivors.
And two characters share the name Kelly: Kelly Connolly in Deadline and Kelly Nakama in San Diego 2014.
Open the Iris: Retinal Kellis-Amberlee causes a permanent case of this in its victims, and the full zombie version causes it to happen as a living infected begins conversion into a zombie. Subverted a few moments after Georgia is hit with a live KA dart.
Parental Issues: George and Shaun were adopted by Stacy and Michael Mason partly to prove that "the living have won" the zombie war; but mainly for ratings points, and they know it.
Disappeared Dad: Michael Mason is the "emotionally absent" sort. He unabashedly tries to cadge ratings from his children's successes.
Follow in My Footsteps: Shaun and Georgia are bloggers, taking after their parents, but not in the way their parents would prefer (obediently automatically giving their parents preferential treatment simply for adopting them).
Becks and Shaun discuss this in Blackout, contrasting her refusal to do the same for her family, who are moneyed and don't do such gauche things as journalism.
Missing Mom: Stacy Mason. Who shot her own biological child in the head when he converted, and then poses for photos at the school he used to go to. And if that's not bad enough? 82% of the affection Stacy shows her adopted children is only in public for posed shots.
In Blackout, after being confronted by Shaun, and eventually going with her husband to rescue Alaric's sister Alisa, she realizes what a terrible parent she's been, and writes, "I wish I'd been a better mom when I had the chance."
Parental Abandonment: George and Shaun were both orphans, adopted because their birth parents had died in the Rising; a situation which was true for many, many infants at that time.
In Deadline, Alaric's parents both amplify, and that leaves his little sister an orphan.
Parental Neglect: Stacy and Michael Mason were ordinary parents for Phillip, but only going through the motions for Shaun and Georgia when in front of a camera, and at no other time, really.
Replacement Goldfish: Debatably. We don't know yet whether Stacy and Michael Mason adopted Shaun and Georgia with the genuine intention of being parents, or whether they decided they needed living ratings point generators.
The Unfavorite: George and Shaun are both unfavorites as compared to the Masons' first child.
Subverted by using a password nobody would think of using as a password.
Alaric: Secure connection confirmed, please verify your identity before I hang up on you.
Shaun: Fuck you, Alaric. I don't have time to remember some stupid code word. (The password was "some stupid code word").
Hilariously subverted. Shaun wanted a password for his voice activated, single-use phone that he would definitely not say by accident.
Shaun: This is Shaun Mason activating security protocol Campbell. The bridge is out, the trees are coming, and I'm pretty sure my hand is evil. Now gimme some sugar, baby.
In Blackout, when Shaun and Becks are trying to gain access to a gas stop off the grid, one of the occupants asks for a password. Becks nervously replies, "There isn't one," and they are allowed in, being told that if they weren't sent by Dr. Abbey, they would have made something up.
Blackout also has another wacky burner-phone password courtesy of Shaun:
Shaun: This is Shaun Mason activating security profile Pardy. Something's wrong with Brenda, we're out of Mister Pibb, and hunting season's here. Now let's go to Hollywood.
Patient Zero: Inverted. Because there were a fair number of Marburg patients and Kellis' virus had been released into the atmosphere, there was no patient zero. Instead, when Marburg and Kellis' viruses were done mutating, the Rising began happening spontaneously and simultaneously all over the world. Some people converted on the spot; others were killed and got back up.
Although, Amanda Amberlee is notable as she died in a car accident shortly before the Rising. The fact that she didn't amplify proved that the zombie plague was caused by the combination of the Kellis virus and Marburg-Amberlee, not just MA by itself.
They never identified the Patient Zero of San Diego 2014 — and, like the first Rising as narrated in Countdown, there may have been multiple cases.
Percussive Maintenance: Invoked by Shaun when he and Alaric realize they have a piece of Buffy tech that no one knew how to work but her. Turns out all Shaun had to do was press a very conspicuous red button.
Playful Hacker: Buffy, who routinely augments the team's own recording devices by taking over cameras in hotels and conference halls.
Political Correctness Gone Mad: Deadline indicates that the living are supposed to refer to zombies as "post Kellis-Amberlee amplification manifestation syndrome humans". But as Shaun points out — that's neither a catchy name, nor one you can shout quickly to warn somebody, nor an acronym that makes a short word you can shout quickly to warn somebody.
Polyamory: Olivia, Zane, and Hotaru are all married to each other in HGTLHBTS.
Newsflesh itself is a pun on Newsflash, a term for interesting and important up-to-the-minute news.
Fish And Clips is Mahir's blog title, pun of Fish and Chips (commonly eaten in England).
The Kwong Way Of Things is Alaric's, where Kwong is a play on "wrong", presumably. Kwong Wa street in Hong Kong, famous for its hobby shops, may be another source.
The site "After the End Times", which could refer literally to the post-apocalyptic era or be a twist on a common newspaper title.
Race for Your Love: Referenced by Shaun as he describes what pre-Rising airports were like. In his time, airport officials are armed with more guns than most Irwins, enough to dissuade anyone even thinking of doing this in an airport.
Radio Silence: In Deadline, the team tries to contact Rick, who's now the US vice president, but doesn't get any response.
In Blackout, after the team splits up, they maintain this among one another until Alaric chats with Georgia II.
Red Herring: At one point in the first book, a political hack who absolutely can't stand George gives her an opened can of Coke to drink. She drinks it. Nothing untoward happens.
Redemption Equals Death: Kelly had no idea she'd been sent as the painted target to Shaun and his team, but she spent a long period believing a flawed and biased interpretation of events, being naive enough to think she could safely withhold information from Shaun and his team and thereby causing a death in the process. Her actions centered around her core belief that the CDC were the good guys. But once she realized the extent of her ignorance, she willingly helped Shaun take on the entity — and ended up making a Heroic Sacrifice so Shaun and company could escape.
Refuge in Audacity: The minds behind the conspiracy actually intentionally started an outbreak inside the White House in an attempt to stop President Ryman and Team ATET from announcing the truth about the conspiracy.
The Reveal: In Blackout, some of the chapter interludes include e-mails sent by someone named Dr. Danika Kimberley. However, she does not appear to be part of the main story until Dr. Shaw reveals her true identity by speaking in her native Welsh accent, then introducing herself to Georgia II as Dr. Kimberley. Apparently "Shaw" was her mother's maiden name.
The villain of Feed, once exposed, goes on a Motive Rant and the slippage happens fast and fiendish.
Shaun, after the events in the van and Georgia's final blog post and subsequent death at his hands. He's aware of it, and he's completely OK with it.
Sarcasm Mode: Most of the novels' characters end up conversing this way, along with the occasional deadpan snarking, often as a coping mechanism to mask their stress and anxiety. Although with a lot of moments among the After the End Times team, mostly between Shaun and Becks, they talk to each other this way by default.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Maggie and her parents. Maggie goes so far as to nonchalantly threaten Kelly Connolly's life, implying that killing Kelly and disappearing the body would be the best Father's Day present she could possibly give her father.
Maggie: He's so hard to shop for.
Before half the team took off for Memphis, Maggie outfitted the van she loaned them with special run-flat tires, and handed them an envelope stuffed full of money as well as a corporate credit card.
Her dad was willing to send an armed extraction team to rescue her because he believed Magdalene was in danger.
In Blackout, certain high ranking officials of the United States Government. Specifically, Rick, who paid for the creation of Georgia Mason clones.
Self-Made Orphan: Alaric's sister Alisa, who was forced to shoot her parents and brother after they got infected.
Serious Business: By law, anyone who comes into regular contact with journalists must regularly update their last will and testament. Journalists are subject to some of the same hazard laws that people dealing with zombies are. They also have to have weapons training as well.
Scale of Scientific Sins: The question of Souls is why there are laws against cloning, although the CDC has special dispensation, and any clones must be made of the scientist him/herself. In Blackout, however, the CDC doesn't even bother with that rule anymore, and makes clones of Georgia Mason.
Shout-Out: In Countdown there's a reference to The Screwfly Solution
Firefly/Serenity: The novella is "The Last Stand of the California Browncoats".
Crocodile Hunter: The highest honor an Irwin can achieve is a Golden Steve-o award, named after the star of that show, Steve Irwin. Both Shaun and Becks are described as contenders for (and winners of) this award.
Georgia makes a sardonic reference to Star Wars in passing.
She also paraphrases a line from the Tom Lehrer song "Be Prepared".
San Diego Comic Con was the site of a massive amplification during the Rising, Georgia mentally notes that "the city hasn't had a break since." For example, the San Diego Zoo was the site of a mass bombing, intended to kill the animals (since they, too, carry KA), but that ended up just releasing the now-zombified animals to infect more people, such as a zombie giraffe.
The name for Lois the cat may be an in-universe tip of the hat to the famous reporter, whom Georgia dressed as for Halloween one year.
Frankenstein: Complete with the pointing out that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster.
In Blackout, the project for developing self-sustaining clones is named the "Shelley Project", after the author of Frankenstein.
The Wizard of Oz: A few references, with Dr. Abbey being referred to as The Wizard.
Shaun: Besides, we've come this far. Don't you want to know what the big secret The Wizard has to share with us is? Becks: Maybe she's planning to give you a brain. Shaun: If she does, I hope that means you're getting a heart. Alaric: I just want to go home.
When Shaun, Becks and Mahir are headed back to Weed from Memphis, with a storm incoming:
Becks: We're in Kansas... Isn't this where Dorothy was when the whole "twister ride to Oz" thing happened? Does either of you know how to recognize a tornado? Because I don't. It might be a good idea for us to find a motel and hole up until this blows over. Shaun: Look, we'll keep the weather advisory running... If it starts flashing, "Get off the road, assholes," we'll pull off until the storm passes. Okay? Becks: Okay. But if we get blown to Oz, I'm going to drop a house on your ass. Shaun: See, that's the sort of compromise I can live with.
A little later, when the After the End Times team is left with no other safe option but to go to Dr. Abbey:
Shaun: I suggest it's time we head off to see the Wizard. The wonderful Wizard of Jesus We Are All So Fucked.
Bambi: Referenced twice in Deadline. In a world where any mammal over forty pounds will reanimate after death, the infamous scene from the movie takes on a different meaning for the novel's characters.
Shaun: I just find it interesting that kids used to cry when Bambi's mother died. George and I both held our breaths, and then cheered when she didn't reanimate and try to eat her son.
Becks: I am tired of shooting zombie deer that wander past our safety zone. Well, okay. I'm not really tired of that part. That part is pretty cool. Suck it, Bambi.
Call of Duty and Left 4 Dead - generalized as "pre-Rising video games" - are alluded to by Shaun and Becks while they're walking through a series of mazelike corridors in Portland.
Becks comes from a very old-money, snooty family who think a great career goal for daughters is "trophy wife" and are appalled by her dissenting opinion on that topic. She calls her blog "Charming, Not Sincere".
One of Becks' blog posts ends with a message to her family for the next time they see her do something the don't approve of paraphrasing Day of the Dead: I hope you choke on it.
One character refers to Dr. Abbey as "the woman who accessorizes with Cujo", referring to Joe the mastiff.
Shown Their Work: By the time you've read through this series, you will be second-guessing all other zombie viruses in fiction, due to the astounding amount of detail that went into describing Kellis-Amberlee. The following is an excerpt from an interview with the author:
Seanan McGuire: The first time I called the CDC, I said that I wanted to talk to someone about possibly designing a zombie virus. ...So every time I came up with a new iteration of Kellis-Amberlee, I would call back and say, "If I did this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?" And every single time they would say, "No." And Iíd say, "OK," hang up, and go back to working. After about the 17th time, I called and said, "If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?" And got, "Donít . . . donít do that." At that point, I knew I had a viable virus.
Slipping a Mickey: Not a literal example, but Rick refers to it as such when the CDC knocks him, Georgia and Shaun out.
Show Within a Show: No actual celebrities from actual shows appeared in the story, but to give the effect, the show with the huge fandom other than Firefly was Space Crime Continuum.
Smoking Is Glamorous: According to Dennis Stahl it is... However, George replies that while cancer is no longer an issue thanks to one component of the virus, smoking can still give a person emphysema.
Sole Survivor: Shaun Mason, the only one of the After The End Times founders to live to the end of the series.
Only one person that had been in the convention centre survived the 2014 San Diego outbreak.
Spanner in the Works: The conspiracy arranges an outbreak along with an attack of KA-loaded darts, intending for Shaun to be killed, after which George will take down Tate, thinking he's as far as the conspiracy goes, before killing herself. What they didn't count on was that George would be killed and Shaun, who's far more inclined to dig and get to the bottom of the plot for revenge's sake, would survive.
Stealth Pun: Or maybe not entirely stealthy. But the title of Feed is a double meaning: what zombies do, and what people do to follow blogs. Then the first novel's cover takes it Up to Eleven by showing the RSS Feed symbol in blood.
And one of the headers in the story itself is entitled Death Writes.
The second novel, Deadline shows the EKG line that goes flat upon death.
The Stoner: Brandon Majors and his friends who helped cause The Rising.
Straw Character: Governor Tate is very one-dimensional and spouts conservative sound bites. Then he's quickly elevated in terms of scope and becomes something... more. Kelly from Deadline is a less overt example, as she essentially exists to be kicked around and have her views shot down.
The first gets some justification in Deadline: Tate was just a pawn of the real leaders of the conspiracy, to give the team an obvious villain to pin everything on.
Stuff Blowing Up: At least two medical research laboratories in Countdown, which occur chronologically before the events in Feed, and also count as HeroicSacrifices since they were to keep the infection inside from getting out.
Trailers at the Sacramento campground.
The Seattle CDC compound, The Brainpan's hideout, as well as part of The White House in Blackout.
A significant portion of Oakland.
The convention center in San Diego.
Survivor Guilt: Georgia undergoes this after Buffy's death at the hands of the bad guys.
In Blackout, Shaun comments on this trope:
Shaun: Fuck survivor's guilt. I'm not supposed to be the guilty one here. The people who made me the last man standing... they're the guilty ones. And they're the ones who should be afraid.
In San Diego 2014, Lorelai Tutt is dealing with a pretty terrible case, bordering on a death wish, since being a bratty teenager is pretty much the only reason she survived.
Synthetic Plague: Marburg-Amberlee was a benevolent man-made virus. Alpha-RC007 was a benevolent man-made virus. They met. They fell in love. They co-mutated into Kellis-Amberlee, and began attacking other benevolent man-made virii... among other things.
Taking the Bullet: In Blackout, Shaun jumps in front of a KA-loaded dart to shield President Ryman. Shaun is the only person in the room at the time who knows about his immunity to KA.
Talking to the Dead: Probably fairly common in the post-Rising world given that everybody has to be able to shoot a gun accurately, and people have to (as seen on the webpage) kill their own relatives; and there are no more coffin burials, just cremations. But in Deadline Shaun talks to Georgia... and she replies, because Shaun's cheese is slipping off his cracker.
This continues all the way through Blackout, even after Shaun meets Georgia II.
Talking To Yourself: Shaun does this a lot but the truth is he's talking to George. He hears her inside his head.
In Deadline Kelly was not trusted until after scanned for same.
In Blackout the EIS made extra sure to remove them from Clone!Georgia.
The Brainpan didn't generally use them, but one of their own went ahead and bugged Team ATET. It's also revealed that the ID that was given to Dr. Kelly Connolly back in Deadline also had a tracking device.
When Shaun retires after the events of Blackout, he and Clone!Georgia disappear to Canada, and according to Mahir, mailed the CIA back all their bugs and tracking devices.
Trademark Favorite Food: Drink, actually, and doubles as Product Placement: Georgia Mason loves her some Coke. Justified in that caffeine helps George stave off terrible, debilitating headaches caused by her Retinal Kellis-Amberlee condition, and the fact that it is illegal for her to use her prescription painkillers in certain zones based on how recently an outbreak has occurred.
Mahir's is tea. He isn't picky, but English Breakfast served to him in Australia is all but grounds for sainthood.
Troperiffic: Between the first novel, Countdown and the sample first chapter of the second book, we had ... well, a lot.
Two Lines, No Waiting: The entire plot of Blackout, with the sole exception of the epilogue, is told from two different concurrent perspectives. Line A (the odd-numbered chapters) takes the perspective of Subject 7c (Georgia II). Line B (the even-numbered chapters) follows Shaun with the After the End Times team. Even after these two plots merge in chapter twenty-three, the first-person perspective continues to alternate between them.
Two-Part Trilogy: The first book is mostly self-contained. The second book ends on all kinds of cliffhangers.
Unable to Cry: Anyone with sufficiently advanced retinal KA. Subverted horribly when Georgia goes into viral amplification and is finally able to cry even as she understands she's about to convert and still has to break the conspiracy story before she goes.
Could also be viewed as a straightforward use of the trope, rather than a subversion, in that a resolution in which the character in question is finally able to cry is described on the trope's page as not unusual.
The physical nature of the affliction, and of its resolution, may also make this more a case of Tears from a Stone.
Averted in Blackout with Georgia II, who's adjusting to the disappearance of her retinal KA, and is continually surprised whenever she starts tearing up.
Unreliable Narrator: Subverted by George. She is so dedicated to the truth that she is a terrible liar, and takes care to let you know when she's deviating from the truth and showing her readers her opinion.
Played straight in Deadline. Shaun is well aware his sanity is no longer properly anchored, and that his perceptions may be a little bit ... skewed. Not that he's bothered by this....
Continues in Blackout, which now also includes Subject 7c, a clone who's a 97% match to the original Georgia Mason. No one knows what the other 3% which is unaccounted for represents; whether they are early memories of Georgia Mason, or something worse.
Georgia's narration in Feed only alludes to the fact that she and her adoptive brother are in a sexually intimate relationship.
Unstoppable Rage: What drives Shaun at the end of Feed, and what gives him his drive back in Deadline after the events in Oakland.
The "unstoppable" part gets a bit more emphasis after it's revealed that Shaun is immune to KA, to the point that in an excursion to collect zombies for Dr. Abbey, Becks has to keep him in check, reminding him that "immune doesn't mean immortal."
The one mentioned above about George Romero being partly responsible for The Rising.
There are occasional ones that pop up about people who survive amplification without zombifying. The medical community usually reminds people that's not possible, and the urban legends drop off again... for a while. In truth, though, such people may exist. In Deadline, we find out reservoir conditions are the human body trying to build up immunity to the KA virus.
In Blackout, the Cat is insufferably smug when Shaun figures out she had made a side deal with the CDC to put a tracker on Kelly Connolly's fake ID, even when her boss gets angry over it, and also reveals she'd put trackers in the whole team's shoes that they must have changed out of before. Except then Shaun reveals they were staying in a hotel that blocked the signal, meaning they never knew about the trackers and are still wearing them.
Villain with Good Publicity: The CDC, considering several people there are working to create new, worse strains of KA, and not really working toward a cure at all in general. Specifically, Dr. Steward, and Dr. Wynne.
The Virus: Kellis-Amberlee started out as two separate viruses: a cure for cancer and a cure for the common cold that got together and mutated into the horror that caused the zombie outbreak called The Rising. And any zombie freshly turned is more interested in making more zombies than in eating flesh for a while. It gets worse; the reservoir conditions indicate that the human race is starting to adapt to the virus, but there's a conspiracy that's out to keep that from happening so that the virus can be controlled by those in power.
Virus Victim Symptoms: Dilation of the irises, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, difficulty with motor skills, aphasia and memory problems are all indicators of conversion and/or amplification. And the symptoms vary by the size of the victim, as well as whether the victim is calm or stressed when amplification begins.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Shaun and Becks. The rest of his staff either avoids Shaun at his jerkiest or calls him out on it. Becks takes the insults and gives back as good as she gets.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Mayday Army. A bunch of well meaning college age people who, incited by a news article, believed that Kellis' cure for the common cold was going to be sold only to the wealthy, leaving the poor to suffer. So they broke into Kellis's lab and released it before it was tested, and helped cause the Rising.
Shaun only calls his sister "Georgia" when he's worried about her or afraid for her.
Georgia calls Buffy Meissonier by her real name, Georgette, when the symptoms of conversion have set in and she can't remember her own real name.
Shaun tends to only call Becks by her real name when situations are serious.
Maggie's full name, Magdalene Grace Garcia, is practically a magic word when used in the right circumstances. Invoked in Blackout after Maggie gets shot; she instructs the team to use her full name in telling the Agora hotel staff that a passenger in their van is injured.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The reason for the problems the convoy experienced en route to Houston? Buffy stopped supplying info to her "friends", realizing their motives weren't as altruistic as they'd led her to believe.
Not a Zombie: The mainstream media (under orders from the government) tried to pull this at the beginning of the Rising.
Not Using the Zed Word: Subverted. The population of the Newsflesh-verse is Genre Savvy — it saved their lives — so they don't bother with dodgewords to make you feel better, especially lethally unwieldy ones (see Political Correctness Gone Mad). Those shambling moaning things? They are zombies. Though there are other non-Z-word names used for them as well, such as "moaners".
No Zombie Cannibals: Subverted. It is mentioned in Deadline that if zombies go long enough without living human flesh, they will eventually turn on each other.
Our Zombies Are Different: The KA virus has a form of sentience where zombies seem to get smarter as their numbers grow. Also, if the zombie is freshly converted, it's a fast zombie. They do, however, slow down to the familiar shamble as they start rotting.
The way it's described in the book—that individually they're mindless but gain tactical sophistication in numbers—is very reminiscent of the Geth from Mass Effect.
This also means a lot of dietary limitations for people who still eat meat. Cooking is not a sure way to kill the KA virus.
Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Just the last part, really. There were a few decapitations during the Rising, but that stopped quickly once they realized that the blood spray carried the infection.