Monday, July 14, 2014

Feed: A Review

Written by: Mira Grant
Paperback: 571 pages
Audiobooks: 15 hours 13 minutes Publisher: Orbit
Language: English
April 2010
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Zombies

The year was 2014. 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


I am a multitasker. I also get bored easily and sometimes need a distraction. This is why I love audiobooks. When I am not browsing the many fanmixes on 8tracks, I am usually listening to something from audible. There is something about audiobooks that I love. Maybe it is the reading performances. Maybe because it means I can be doing work while escaping into a story. Granted getting through a book takes a little bit longer (I am a very fast reader), I enjoy the overall performances. Which is why I chose Feed by Mira Grant (also known as Seanan Mcguire) as my next book escape. Okay maybe I also chose it because it was Seanan doing the zombie genre and that maybe made me a little giddy as I love her to pieces. But when I listened to the excerpt on audible I loved the reader’s cadence, and it is two readers who read either Georgia or Sean’s parts.

“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.”

So what is Feed about? The zombie apocalypse has happened. Sure we found a cure for cancer and the common cold, but when the two cures combined it created Kellis-Amberlee. Such a pretty name right? If only the virus was as pretty. Sadly it reanimates the dead which is not as pretty and far more deadly. It decimated populations creating small heavily protected havens across the country. Heavy precautions have been put in place such as no more pet Rufus if your dog exceeds the mass index for the virus. No one wants the family pet to turn the family into the undead.

Kellis-Amberlee also did something incredibly interesting to the media. Bloggers, and ultimately zombie nerds, were the first to respond to the outbreak responding faster and more accurately to the masses than traditional media. In a time when you need to learn how to defend and protect the bloggers were there with plenty of Romero tips to keep as many people alive and safe as possible. Bloggers are the truth and make a hell of a living, if not a dangerous one. They have privileges in this new world and even have different class access points depending on your rank within the community.

Twenty years later Georgia ‘George’ Mason (your traditional ‘Newsie’) and her brother Shaun (an adventurous ‘Irwin’) are two of those reporters. They have never known a life without the undead. Adopted by the Masons (whose biological son was one of the first infected when he was bitten by a dog), George and Sean grew up in the blogging world and they have become masters at their jobs. When they win a contract, along with their partner Buffy Mesonnier, to follow Republican Presidential candidate Senator Peter Ryman on his run for the highest office in the nation they are hopeful that is the break they have needed in their careers. But nothing is ever that easy. When the Senator’s campaign comes under attack (not just politically), George and her crew will discover the truth…no matter what the cost.

Things I loved: I have been a fan of Seanan (Mira) for a while now and her October Daye series is one of my favorites. So I know she can craft a story and break my heart. She can make me laugh and make me invest in her characters. Feed is no different. From the beginning of the book I love Shaun and George. George is snarky, pessimistic, protective, loyal, curious, and everything I like in a character. Shaun is impulsive, takes risk, but would do anything for his sister. They are relatable characters, flawed, cynical, and yet I would follow them to the end. And I did. Their relationship is the strongest selling point for me (though the zombies and the world Seanan has created is a close second). Truthfully most of the characters are well thought out and I found myself liking Steve, Buffy, and Emily just as much. Plus George and her mates have great names (‘George’ Romero, ‘Shaun’ of the Dead, and ‘Buffy’ Slayer Extraordinaire).

Another thing I liked about George is that she is our window into the world and helps expand and explain this universe. As the newsie of the group she provides the info dump explaining historical, political, social context to all that has happened with the KA virus (As a side note, I loved the way that tobacco companies quickly rose to power now that cigarettes will not kill anyone). Granted the info dump aspect can get a little monotonous at times and extremely wordy. Overall I think her describing the world as a reporter would really helped the story not hinder it.

George also has a mutated form of Kellis-Amberlee (in her case it is retinal KA which renders her pupils permanently dilated). This means she occasionally has a false positive on the testing machines. It is a condition that is brought up frequently, but again helps tell the story. In this zombie filled world security and blood testing is everywhere you look. Hotels have decontamination chambers and you had better get used to pricking your finger as blood tests are required pretty much everywhere you go. It’s a world that you don’t have to suspend your disbelief for.

As much as there are zombies in the novel (your opening scene involves quite a few when Shaun’s Irwin sensibilities get him into trouble) and trust me you will get your grr arghy moments, this is not really a zombie book and that is kind of how I like my zombie fiction. Zombies are the best when they are used as a tool to discuss humanity, what society will do in the face of an apocalypse, and how it shapes you into a new person. Feed is about fear, about truth and information, politics, lies and how people use it all. It’s about relationships, about survival, hope, courage, and the stories. We all have stories to tell after all. So to say it is zombie fiction does it an injustice as it is so much more.

I also have to give props to the reading performances on the audiobook by Jesse Bernstein (who does the Percy Jackson audiobooks) and Paula Christensen (who needs to do more audiobooks). Paula is George and there is a moment at the end of the book that almost had me in tears she did such a great job. Her different accents and characterizations were great to listen to (she does a bit better than Jesse) and made me feel as if she were George instead of someone reading a novel.

Things I didn’t love so much: As I said earlier sometimes the info dumping can break the flow of the overall narrative of the book and make me a shade impatient. But I get impatient easily. Also Tate was a little too one dimensional for me though he did have some great bits of dialogue. He was just so obviously a douche.

I also was completely shocked with the final act. It’s something that few authors can pull off and the audiobook made it even more shocking. I keep hoping there is some trick and am trying desperately not to spoil myself with the other two books of the trilogy.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. It’s a great book and I look forward to finishing the trilogy.

Part of: The Newsflesh Trilogy. It continues with Deadline and finishes with Blackout.

Also Recommended: For more zombies I would recommend World War Z by Max Brooks, The Walking Dead comic series by Robert Kirkman, and the Zombie Survival Guide also by Max Brooks. Feed by Mira Grant, Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry, Infected by Scott Sigler, and Rot And Ruin also by Jonathan Mayberry. Yeah zombies.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

No comments: