Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) is an evil, evil woman. She lures you in with awesome—post-zombie apocalyptic fiction about bloggers? THAT IS FANTASTIC, I NEED TO READ THIS RIGHT NOW—and the next thing you know, you’re hunched over the book, sobbing because she’s just sucker-hit you with a sledgehammer of the feels. You think, after books 1 &2, what can she do to throw at twist at the reader in the final book, and somehow (via telepathic timey-wimey-ness), McGuire goes “Challenge accepted.”Because this is where we left with Deadline: The second Rising happened, via weaponized, KA-infected mosquitoes. The world is even more fucked than it previously was. Shaun is immune thanks to his very (very, very) close relationship with Georgia. The ATET team is forced to off-the-grid, aided by Dr. Abbey, which sounds like good circumstances, but that’s if you’ve never met Dr. Abbey. OH and the CDC are killing everyone who have reservoir conditions for reasons. And btw HOLY FUCK GEORGIA WAS CLONED WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.Going into Blackout, I was completely excited to read what was going to happen next, despite the ever-growing amount of dread I had lingering from the characters. This was the grand finale, there’s no way that the majority of these characters will be left alive to tell the tale. (The downside of doing a read-along: I had many weeks were I so badly wanted to read the next four or five chapters, and yet I didn’t. If only that kind of willpower extended to everything else.)Georgia. Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. What I love is that McGuire makes it absolutely clear that even though Georgia II is nearly identical to the one we spent almost all of Feed with, she’s not that Georgia. She’s a copy. And that’s something that’s not only going to follow her but also the standard by which nearly everyone defines her as. And I love that it’s not ignored from any angle. Georgia knows that she’s not going to be able to replace the Georgia everyone else knew, no matter how close the CDC managed to copy her brain. But she’s going to prove that, CDC-created or not, she’s still the same Georgia Mason with the same goals from the beginning of book 1. (Which makes me think, if Georgia II was just a show model, and the Subject 8b clone was to trick Shaun, man the CDC suck at predicting human behavior. The 8b clone is 44% identical to the original Georgia; tell me that Shaun isn’t going to see right through that.) And not even just the fact that she’s a copy, the fact that Georgia struggles with being taken as a human being. Which, btw, FUCK THE ENTIRITY OF THE CDC. God, I’m surprised that every time one of those doctors talked about Georgia in such a clinical manner, Georgia didn’t punch them in the face. Repeatedly. Especially Dr. Thomas—I was pissed off that he didn’t get eaten by a zombie. (Preferably, an amplified Georgia clone. WAS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK, SEANAN?) It really shows through the writing that not only does Georgia have to deal with being treated like an object, but also trying to reconcile what she knows of her past life and who she is. And that ties in with Shaun as well. He describes himself as a haunted house, with his increasing mental instability and hearing and seeing Georgia everywhere. Oh my God that scene when they’re in the Seattle CDC center and Shaun sees Georgia II for the first time, my heart broke. Even when Shaun says he’s weirded out by that’s what his brain is picturing at the moment, I knew what was going to happen next and the aforementioned sledgehammer of feels. And even getting Georgia back doesn’t make his problems magically go away (I kinda love jealous head!Georgia in a weird way), but now Shaun has to deal with “Who is this person really, how can I trust her, how can I love her without treating her like a replacement?” (For whatever reason, I’m more comfortable with how Shaun and Georgia’s relationship is treated in this book than I was in Deadline. I don’t know if it’s because the more that I thought about, the more sense it made to me, but it works better here?)The switching back and forth between the narrations are incredibly strong. First of all, the tension is extremely ramped as Shaun’s inching his way toward Seattle and Georgia’s figuring out a way to escape. You know that it has to happen eventually, just when in the book are they finally going to meet up is the big question. Plus, you’ve got all different plots unfolding at the same time—finding out what the clones are being used for. Trying to get Alisa Kwong out of Florida and then getting out of the country. AND you’ve got the inevitable feeling of dread that none of these characters are going to make it out alive. (Look, after killing off Georgia in Feed, all bets were off. AND SEANAN MCGUIRE STILL GOT ME, because I got all the way up to the end, and thinking “omg are they all going actually make it?” AND THEN BECKS HAPPENED. AUGH. Actually, I’m shocked THAT many characters did get out alive by the end of this.)This is also the first time that the blog posts completely added a whole new level to the book. The blog excerpts in the first two books either underscored the action or just gave new details to characterization. But here, we get to see so much information that’s going on behind the scenes—the emails between Dr. Shoji and Dr. Abbey are a really good example of that. We finally get more of Rick here, and may I point out that his blog posts where more heartbreaking than when we finally get to see him again? God. The Masons—THE MASONS who have been established as pretty much horrible people manage to redeem themselves in this. Even the random posts of Alaric bitching and freaking out over his sister and being kept in the dark about, oh, EVERYTHING brought a whole new level to this book.(A moment of appreciation for Alaric Kwong: newsie, wannabe Irwin, completely under-informed and unprepared. He’s my favorite character in the whole book, just for his blog posts bitching about how no one tells him anything and then when Georgia shows up, his reaction is “Okay, fuck everything. I give up. She’s a clone, we’re moving on.” I would read an entire book of the trials of Alaric Kwong, the buttmonkey of the After the End Times. (Not that losing your whole family makes you deserving of that status, but just the way Alaric gets treated he so is.))I said in the Deadline review that you could take Feed as a standalone novel, and the more I read Blackout, the more I wanna go back and redact that. Because the ending of Feed unfurls a much bigger conspiracy at work than that book let on, and it’s here that we get not only the vastness of that conspiracy, but what it means for the world. And I like that Blackout does what a good trilogy is meant to do: it gives closure. The whole last chapter from Mahir’s perspective does exactly that. Of course, I wanna know more about the global reaction of the Masons’ revelations of the CDC’s activities; I wanna know how the rest of the ATET is doing after Georgia and Shaun take off for the wilds of Canada. (Note: I love the fact that Shaun’s putting his immunity to good use and uploads videos of him fighting zombie moose. That is all you need to know about him after everything that he’s gone through.) And as interested as I am with all of the larger world-building aspects, I’m fine with how this ended.Because I think that Mahir’s last line to his daughter—scratch that, the whole last scene of him and Sanjukta really speaks volumes of the series as a whole. The ATET set out to make the world a better place by trying to uncover the truth, and they did. It wasn’t an easy journey, but they managed it. And they have a chance for Sanjukta and her generation to even improve on that. And the people who fought and lived to tell the tale don’t need to fight anymore, and they can just live and be free of that spotlight.This series as a whole, I just…wow. That’s really the only reaction I can give it. While Feed is a great little read, what McGuire does with Deadline and Blackout is just astounding. She manages to through twists upon twists while keep the plot and tension taut and exciting; the characters are solid; and so much that she puts in here is completely plausible. (I really hope that her version of 2014 doesn’t come to pass. I really hope not—it’s fun to read about the Newsflesh world, I don’t want to experience it for myself.) Again, I’m just more ticked off at myself for not reading these sooner.