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MirrorMask (children's edition)
Neil Gaiman
The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume One: Where on Earth
Ursula K. Le Guin
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Maud Hart Lovelace
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti
Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey
Vampires, Zombies, & Wanton Souls
Marge Simon
Deadline - Mira Grant Loved it! Sure, there are weaknesses - Shaun's lingering uber-depression and unconvincing leadership skills; the whole coke/coffee thing; the never confirmed "is it incestuous?" questions surrounding the relationship between Shaun and George; staff's surprise seemingly every time Shaun talks to himself/Georgia; etc.

What do I love about Deadline? Damn near everything else. It's a page turner that almost dared me to put it down. I did not want to set the book aside when the time came to go to sleep or work. It's a story with characters immersed in a zombie apocalypse, but few zombies actually make an appearance in the narrative. Zombies may be out of sight, but are certainly never out of mind. When the characters actually encounter zombies, their appearance is sudden, ratcheting up the tension to a fever pitch. Then they're gone as quickly as they came, leaving Shaun, Becks and the gang to deal with the consequences. In a sense, zombies are bit players in this ethical, political and relational drama starring George and Shaun. I'm happy with Grant's decision to keep zombies out of the foreground.

I'm also happy with Grant including ethical debates on human cloning and the killing of zombies. Do clones have souls? Does only one soul exist "per genetic pattern"? (Kelly: "Clones are considered lab waste.") Does the existence of zombies make the concept of "soul" meaningless? If there's even a small chance that zombies could be rehabilitated, or that someone could test positive for infection but fight off the loss of personhood, then is it still open season on the undead? Really fascinating stuff.

And how about a little commentary on our post-9/11 world without ever acknowledging that 9/11 happened? (An aside. My favorite news source Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me informed me recently that US residents are now more likely to be killed by their furniture than by terrorists.) "[S]omehow, an entire world full of people who had managed to take arms against an enemy that was straight out of a Romero flick was convinced that what they really wanted was fear. They put down their guns, they locked their doors, they went inside, and they were grateful for all the things that they were scared of." Grant stocks the story with plenty of warnings against the slippery slope of giving up individual freedoms. I love that about Deadline too.

Heck, I even love the weirdness between George and Shaun. George remains my favorite character two books in. Granted Shaun's a tool that looks like a younger Ty Pennington in my head. Incestuous undertones aside, I find their closeness believable, even compelling. I don't want either of the little pischers to die. I'd be sad. Really, it's their quirky relationship that makes me want to know and read more.

And about the surprise ending and cliffhanger. Not so surprising! At least I had an inkling of what might happen. Defanged surprise aside, I'm impressed with Grant's guts as a storyteller. I like her, and already have my copy of Blackout screaming for attention from my bedside table. You're next, you impatient bastard.

One more thing Mira. Did you really have Alaric say "son of a chicken-fucking soy farmer and a diseased convention-center security guard"? Speechless...