Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Science fiction, zombie fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: 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.
The year is 2040. Twenty-six years ago, a freak combination of new vaccines introduced a virus into the human population, a virus that every living thing over a certain weight now carries inside its cells. This virus causes the person to reanimate after death, turning him or her into a living, walking, eating, virus-spreading zombie. An introduction of live virus into a person’s system through the bloodstream – say, from a bite or scratch – can also cause viral amplification. This is the world in which bloggers Shaun and Georgia Mason live and work.
For the first time in history, bloggers have been asked to cover a presidential campaign along with the “legitimate” media, the media which has lost much of its credibility since it failed to report the truth about the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Shaun and Georgia have been chosen for the historic assignment, leap-frogging them from beta-bloggers to alpha status overnight. They are quickly thrown into the world of politics – along with a murderous conspiracy that may cost them their lives.
The trouble with the news is simple: People, especially ones on the ends of the power spectrum, like it when you’re afraid. The people who have the power want you scared. They want you walking around paralyzed by the notion that you could die at any moment. There’s always something to be afraid of. It used to be terrorists. Now it’s zombies.
What does this have to do with the news? This: The truth isn’t scary. Not when you understand it, not when you understand the repercussions of it, and not when you aren’t worried that something’s being kept from you. The truth is only scary when you think part of it might be missing. And those people? They like it when you’re scared. So they do their best to sit on the truth, to sensationalize the truth, to filter the truth in ways that make it something you can be afraid of.
If we didn’t have to fear the truths we didn’t hear, we’d lose the need to fear the ones we did. People should consider that.
-From Images May Disturb You, the blog of Georgia Mason, April 2, 2040
First, I loved this book. Second, it isn’t really a book about zombies. Yes, there are zombies in Feed, but it is a thriller that has a lot to say about politics and the media, and it just happens to be set in a future in which there are zombies. Because of that, this book will appeal to a lot of you who might not normally read zombie fiction. And for those of you who already enjoy the genre, don’t worry, there is death and dismemberment.
I have the TBR Double Dare to thank for the fact that I finally took this book off of my “to be read at some indeterminate time in the future shelf” and actually started reading it. And read it nonstop until I finished it, because it is just that good.
How did I love this book? Let me count the ways. Page-turning plot? Check. Characters I loved? Check. Cultural commentary? Check. Twists galore that I didn’t see coming? Check. Fantastic world building? Check. A satisfying ending that doesn’t leave me feeling manipulated into reading the next book in the series? Check.
The way the author has envisioned the future of the media is especially clever. Because the mainstream media missed the zombie outbreak (“You kids have been watching too many zombie movies!”), bloggers are now the most trusted source of news. Blogging has split into four distinct types: Newsies, who report the facts and write clearly-defined opinion-pieces; Stewarts, who give the news cloaked in opinion and humor; Irwins, who go out and poke the living dead for adventure and ratings; and Fictionals, who write poetry and prose about the new world humans inhabit. You “get” the names, right?
Brother and sister team Georgia and Shaun Mason own the site After the End Times. Georgia runs the site and is head of the Newsies; Shaun is the lead Irwin; and their friend and tech specialist, Buffy, is head of the Fictionals. When their site is chosen to cover the presidential campaign of Senator Peter Ryman, they know they’ve been given their ticket to blogger superstardom. Having her characters follow a politician on the campaign trail was the perfect way for the author to explore this future world – and that in and of itself would have made for an interesting book, but she has also given us a terrific conspiracy and mystery for the Masons to untangle. The stakes couldn’t be higher – and the costs are catastrophic.
I am not going to say any more except that this book blew me away, for all of the reasons I listed above, plus the plot twists that still have me reeling two days after finishing. I just ordered book two, Deadline, and I can guarantee you that it will find a place on the “to be read immediately” shelf.