Feed by Mira Grant – A Book Review: ★★

The truth hurts. Feed is painful.

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Feed is Mira Grant’s YA apocalyptic novel published by Orbit books in 2010.  I have to admit, the great pun in the title and the name of the trilogy (Newsflesh) drew me in.

The Year is 2040, two decades have passed since cures for things such as cancer down to the common cold were discovered. Humanity seemed invincible for a brief flash, before Kellis-Amberlee (a zombie virus) becomes active. Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy are young adults documenting this lifestyle, determined to bring about truth with each blog post. With the US presidential campaign under their belts, that goal gets a hell of a lot harder.

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If you’re looking for apocalyptic fiction rife with action, run away from Feed like you would a herd of zombies. This is not the story for you. The Walking Dead fans can turn away too. The problem I have with Mira Grant’s publishers is their false advertising:

‘The good news: we survived. The bad news: so did they.’

This type of writing seems to suggest that zombies are the focus of the novel. I was one of the many who were led to believe an apocalypstic novel would actually be centred around them. Hell, I was mistaken! In Grant’s Feed, zombies are pushed into the background to make way for political tactics and complex blogging jargon. Although, Feed can be seen to hold contemporary relevance, as it shares similarities with Trump’s America.

I wanted to love this book. I really did. Being somewhat new to blogging myself, I was keen to start reading something which seemed to blend two of my favourite things: zombies and blogging! Unfortunately, Grant didn’t balance politics and action well enough for my taste. This was too politically heavy. There was potential to make this a great story in my eyes, but 100 pages later, I saw it dwindle.

Of course, by the nature of a book review, this is entirely personal. If political fiction is your thing, leap on this! But again, I feel I picked up Feed being promised a completely different story, which fuels my irritation.

Although not my cup of tea, I can’t fault Mira Grant for her world-building. This author knows her post-Rising apocalpytic America down to a tee. The world was really complex and it was great she put so much thought into the new technological advancements etc. However, I felt this knowledge hindered Grant’s storytelling It’s great to know the ins and outs of your world, but the reader doesn’t need to know it all – unless you’re J.K. Rowling and your twitter page relies on it (hah).

Grant’s writing style was burdened by exposition. She couldn’t just make a statement about her world and leave the reader in suspense, it had to be explained through Georgia’s prosaic and analytical perspective. Every form of safety equipment and procedures were mentioned and explained which became predictable and dull. I’ve lost count of the amount of times Georgia and Shaun took blood tests to see if they were clean of the virus. Clearly a lot of passion has been invested in Grant’s world, but she wasn’t selective about what information was given to the reader. It was a lot of tell and barely no show – just like the role of zombies in this novel.

Feed’s blogosphere is ran by three types of bloggers:

  1. The Newsies (Georgia), set on stating the facts.
  2. The Irwins (Shaun) who mess around with zombies for views.
  3. The Fictionals (Buffy) who write poetry and fiction about their experiences.

I really liked the idea of blogging gaining prominence in the apocalypse, and the idea that us fellow WordPress bloggers could survive through our words! Although, this concept had its flaws. In Shaun’s case, we were told countless times that he was a great Irwin, yet we hardly saw his day-to-day work in action (which would have picked up the pace of this novel by a great deal).

The blog posts incorporated in the novel were its most interesting feature. I felt like enough relevant context could have been given by Grant through the blog posts alone, and would have helped to keep suspense. The novel may have been more successful if it consisted of blog posts alone. I felt this was  where Grant’s writing really shone through, rather than the Georgia’s dominant first-person perspective.

The characters in this novel and their relationships were very iffy. Georgia and Shaun just read as stereotypes to me. Georgia was the cool James Bond-esque character with the stiff upper lip, whilst Shaun was the (try too hard) comic relief. Their relationship with their parents was weird – the adoptive siblings were treated like commodities, which was strange behaviour when considering the history of the parents.

In relation to character, I felt like an aspect of Georgia didn’t fit in with the logic of the universe. Georgia has Retinal Kellis-Amberlee, meaning her eyes can’t tolerate harsh light for fear of blindness. It’s always great to represent disabled people in fiction, don’t get me wrong, but Grant’s society is supposed to be impervious to all common disease, besides KA. I didn’t understand how Georgia could become disabled by KA and not turn into a zombie?? It was such a logic gap and I felt it didn’t add much value to the story.

Although some plot points weren’t easy to foresee, the villain was very predictable. Grant doesn’t really create many antagonists for the blogging trio to face, so it was too easy for the reader to recognize the villain/terrorist.

I can’t say I’ve enjoyed Feed enough to continue with the series. I may have finished Feed, but I’m not satiated.

 


rawpixel.com Filip Bunkens

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