Countdown by Mira Grant is a novella set in the same universe as her Newsflesh trilogy. You can read my reviews of the trilogy at the following links:
novella doesn't contain spoilers for the main series, so could be read
beforehand. However, it definitely fleshes out a lot of the back story,
so I think a reader will get more out of it if they have read the
There's no main character in Countdown.
Instead, it tells the story through scenes about different characters:
the two doctors who created the two parts of the virus, the Amberlee
family, the Masons who we know from Newsflesh (and actually their story
was the one I felt relied most on the reader's knowledge of the future,
although not too heavily), CDC researchers, the people responsible for
releasing the Kellis cure into the wild. Even though I knew the final
outcome (dooooom), If found it interesting to follow.
thing I was hoping it would address but didn't was how the entire rest
of the world (outside the US) got Kellis-Amberlee. I have no issues with
the Kellis part because of how it was released, but the Marburg
Amberlee part still doesn't make sense to me. It was a cancer cure
undergoing trials in Denver. By itself it wasn't very contagious and
Kellis-Amberlee started in the trial patients and their closest friends
and relatives. Kellis-Amberlee was highly contagious, but it also acted quite quickly (making people sick then dead then zombies). So HOW
did it get out of the US in large enough numbers to infect the whole
world? A plane full of dead/zombies wouldn't do it because of all the
red flags it would raise upon landing (assuming the pilot survived which
isn't implausible given current aeroplane safety procedures). The
novella mentioned people in the UK and India getting Kellis-Amberlee but
how? Just the Marburg Amberlee part couldn't've reached them and KA
needs reasonably close contact and also those places are far from the US
and it takes more time to get there than the time needed to zombify.
There wasn't much mention of KA lying dormant while being passed around
which is the thing that needed to be emphasised to make me happy.
OK, that was a bit ranty, but it was the aspect that bothered me in the trilogy and that I was so hoping would be explained in Countdown.
nitpicking aside, this was an enjoyable story. I definitely recommend
it to anyone whose read Newsflesh and is interested in filling in some
of the worldbuilding gaps.
4 / 5 stars