Friday, 10 August 2012

Feed by Mira Grant

 I am SUPER excited to have a guest reviewer here for the first time! Please welcome a blogger I admire VERY much, if I were to become a real blogger, I'd want to be like her (and she's an amazing friend) Working For the Mandroid's, Leslie: 

"From the very first sentence, I deemed Mira Grant’s Feed awesome and, really, how could I not when it starts with:

“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.”

Grant had me and she didn’t once lose me in the six hundred pages that make up this post-apocalyptic zombie tale that isn’t really about zombies. There are only four scenes that actually include zombies on screen and only two scenes with any real sense of danger, the more suspenseful one being the opening 20 pages or so. Instead the zombies act as background elements to explain the collapse of our world into a slightly warped version of the life we know. It’s today with more guns, bleach showers and the occasional dead person jumping out of the shadows wanting to snack on your skull, but all together, it’s not that different.

Instead Feed focuses on the new form of media and politics in this rapidly adapting culture, built partially around the most visceral of fears and the need for freedom. Georgia and Shaun are bloggers, who get picked as the media pool for a Republican candidate running for president at a time when bloggers aren’t taken serious by the older generations. The story follows their experiences on the campaign trail as a politically-motivated conspiracy starts playing out around the caravan of political advisors, interns, and supporters that follow their candidate around. Zombies are constantly a threat on the edges of the story, but the damage that living humans can do to one another becomes a bigger issue than the shuffling undead. It’s definitely an interesting way to inhabit a zombified world.

There are a fair number of characters in the book, but only two that really get fleshed out. Shaun is the crazy brother, who likes to poke zombies with hockey sticks and generally put himself into mortal danger as long as a camera is rolling on him. He’s goofy, sarcastic and wonderful. The immaturity and silliness that he shows in public is nicely countered by his sensitivity and sincere concern for his sister, Georgia. He’s like a guy from Jackass, but with a hidden gooey center. And he’s really funny.
But it was Georgia who made me love this book. She’s the newsie of the bunch, very dedicated to the truth and her beliefs in journalistic ethics. She’s a great character to live inside of (the book is in first person): sardonic, cynical and just slightly insane with her dedication towards her chosen field. She has ocular Kellis-Amberlee – or essentially “zombie eyes” – that require her to wear dark glasses all the time to prevent permanent damage to the point of blindness. Combine that with her uniform of Kevlar and other pieces of tactical gear and she’s like a little journalistic terminator with her old-school mp3 recorder and bad attitude. If you can’t tell, I quickly became enamored with Georgia to the point that I didn’t care when her inner narration halted the story completely so that she could go on a five page history lesson on this or that disease or rant about society/television media/politicians. I was right there with her and, with my own personal background in journalism, spent a good portion of her journalistic rants thinking, “YES! THAT! That’s how I want things!”

But then again I’m a huge geek.

So there are some pacing issues that, if you’re not as interested in the history of this world, how things came to be as they are, or Georgia’s personal views on the political process, then there will regularly be chunks of exposition that will most likely bore you. I didn’t mind each piece of information filled the world out just a little more and Grant has filled in a lot of the tiny details that often get overlooked in post-apocalyptic books. Other than that, my only real issue was with the blog posts used to cap the chapters. Each was dated, but the dates combined with the story itself really screwed me up with the passage of time. Or maybe the Republican convention does take place in March of an election year and I was confusing myself unnecessarily. Either way, I had a hard time connecting the blog posts that often didn’t correspond to any one event to the story itself.

I was really disappointed that I was the only one in the book club that read the whole thing prior to the meeting, mostly because it meant I had absolutely no one to commiserate with on how absolutely devastated this book left me. Emotionally Grant covers all the bases: Georgia’s dry sense of humor had me laughing out loud regularly, moments of tension that left me unable to put the book down when it was far past my bedtime, and a sudden twist that left me staring into the blank space, distraught for days after I finished it. Even now five days later, thinking about a certain short section (no spoilers!) brings tears to my eyes and makes me hurt, but I’m also a huge sap who becomes far too emotionally invested with the lives of fictional characters.

Feed is an awesome and unusual zombie book, and it actually has a great conclusion that feels like the story is completely wrapped up. It doesn’t need two sequels, though I own both of them and will eventually read them. I can’t imagine either comparing to Feed though. It’s a fully formed world with great characters, who I would probably be friends with if they actually were real people. It feels different from the other zombie books I’ve read because the zombies are such a small piece of a much larger, more complex story. I’d recommend it even to those who aren’t usually into the walking dead inhabiting their stories. Feed is now in my top 10 of 2012, hanging out with Robopocalypse and fellow zombie tale Dearly, Departed.


Anna S. said...

Cool! very well written entry to the supernatural book club blog. dearly, beloved is a book that's just crossed my paperbackswap suggested reading list.... is it really amazing?

Hey Lady! said...

When I was reading this I was picturing Leslie when I pictured blogger Georgia Mason. I feel like if the world ever came to that Leslie would be doing exactly what Georgia is doing.

That being said, Leslie is right, none of us finished the book, myself included! I'll be back when I finish it!

Mandroid said...

Oh, Anna, Dearly Departed (Beloved is the sequel that hasn't come out yet) is a book that left me entirely too conflicted. It's brilliant and different and I think even you could take it despite the zombies. Think a future steampunk-esque future with zombies, some of whom keep their intelligence and original personalities and some who don't.

I wanted to start reading it again the moment I finished. In my email with the Feed review, I told Heather that was my suggestion for next month's read. The cover is super girlie, but if Brian and Fernando can look past it, they might find it interesting.

THEshans said...

So I just finished FEED about 2 weeks ago (i'm bad, I know). I really enjoyed it, and I think it's because it was a zombie book that wasn't really about zombies. I'm not much into political fiction, but this sparked my interest. I agree, Georgia was a really lovable character. One night after falling asleep reading, I even dreamed about retinal KA, and zombie deer.