Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: Feed

Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Zombies

Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: April 2010
Paperback: 608 pages

Stand Alone or series: Book 1 in the Newsflesh Trilogy

Summary: (from Goodreads)
We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

In the year 2014, two seemingly unrelated events, the curing of a young girl's Leukemia and the creation of a new rhinovirus strain that cured the common cold, led to the creation of the deadliest virus ever created. This new virus, called Kellis Amberlee, had devastating effects on the world as the dead became the undead and humans found themselves somewhere in the middle of the food chain. Those who had weakened immune systems or particular medical histories were the first to reanimate into the undead. As more and more people rose from the dead, the battle to survive became all or nothing.

While it looked like the world was falling apart though, many people were able to find ways to survive. Through strict testing procedures and safety regulations, neighborhoods were taken back and schools reopened. A new way of living emerged and Feed takes place in that new world.

Twenty years later, Georgia and Shaun Mason are both successful bloggers whose lives revolve around the undead. Georgia is a "newsie" and all about reporting the facts, while her brother Shaun is an adrenaline junkie “Irwin.” Their poem writing friend Buffy rounds out their team as their "fictional." When their team get's selected for the story of a lifetime, following Senator Peter Ryman on his run for President, they find themselves fighting for more than just good story. They find themselves fighting for their lives.

Now, I have to say right off the back I was disappointed with this novel. For one, this novel isn't really about zombies at all. If anything, it's about the evils of network news. Yes, I'm serious. Feed is a less horror and more political intrigue. While that isn't what I look for in a zombie story, that wasn't even my main problem with the book. My problem, is how freaking sanctimonious Georgia is.

There came a point in the book when I just couldn't take anymore "the media is evil!" and "we're the only ones who stand up for the truth and everyone else is below us honorable truth tellers who are perfect and above reproach and....tell the truth!" The message came through loud and clear. It didn't need to be repeated every time Georgia opened her mouth. It seemed like Grant wanted too much for us to see Georgia as cool and determined. It only made her abrasive and annoying. I also didn't like how Georgia knew everything. That's right, she won every argument and always had every insight. In the end this made Georgia utterly unlikable to me. And when that happens to a reader, the "tragic endings" don't seem all that tragic. In fact they become far less "tragic" and much more "poetic justice." It also made some of the things that may have made the characters endearing, like Georgia and Shaun's close relationship, just plain creepy.

The biggest plus about this story is the world building though. It's phenomenal. It is Feed's big redeeming factor for me. You can tell Grant thought out the issues surrounding a new zombie-fied world down to the little details. I also love that technology played a big part in the new world. This feels more accurate to me then something like World War Z where computer techs become trash collectors.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

From Chapter 1:
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 go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we didn’t already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isn’t a surprise. It hasn’t been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasn’t a surprise then.

When the infected first appeared—heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at hand—they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.

There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came into range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were past being upset about that sort of thing. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, that being the way of things. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have idiots prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my brother and why he probably won’t live a long and fulfilling life.

“Hey, George, check this out!” he shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with his hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swiping at him ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and didn’t have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Shaun’s hands. I’ll give Shaun this much: He knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. “We’re playing patty-cake!”

“Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike,” I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. His current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a healthier pack roaming the area. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You don’t go there unless you’re suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I can’t guess which of those options applies to Shaun.

“Can’t talk right now! I’m busy making friends with the locals!”

“Shaun Phillip Mason, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to God, I am going to drive away and leave you here.”

Shaun looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as he planted the end of his hockey stick at the center of the zombie’s chest to keep it at a safe distance. “Really? You’d do that for me? Because ‘My Sister Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle’ would make a great article.”

“A posthumous one, maybe,” I snapped. “Get back on the goddamn bike!”

“In a minute!” he said, laughing, and turned back toward his moaning friend.

In retrospect, that’s when everything started going wrong.

I really don't get all the love I found for this book on various book blogs. (I feel the same way about World War Z and The Forest of Hands and Teeth as well.) While the world building was great, the dialog was too message like and repetitive. By the end I started skimming large chunks of text and yet I wouldn't miss anything. That's not cool in my book. And as someone who blogs about politics and news herself (though obviously on a much smaller scale), I just found Grant's take on things a bit annoying. It will take a lot more than this to convince me bloggers are the future saviors of the world.

Maybe these issues will be revolved with more likable characters in the next book, but I doubt I'll even give it a chance.

Rating:My first reaction was to rate this as a 4, but I think that's just my dislike of Georgia coming through. I don't think I can give it higher than a 5 though.

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