I'd been hearing about the wonders of "Feed" by Mira Grant on audio forever. (This is the book about zombies and bloggers and stuff.) My library didn't have it, unfortunately. But there is always confusion about which "Feed" someone is talking about. There was some feedish discussion at a recent book club meeting, and Heather (Book Addiction) said "Oh, Sandy, you must listen to the M.T. Anderson "Feed"!". Bonus? It was only five discs long.
Synopsis: We find ourselves in a dystopian society, where the earth has been rendered a wasteland without plants or trees, the moon has been developed as a vacation destination, and our primary purpose on earth is consumption. Tiny computer chips have been implanted under the skin that allows controlled "feeds", or commercials to invade your every thought and affect your spending habits (which are analyzed and manipulated). In addition, the chip can be used to have one-on-one or community chats, and Internet-like information can be accessed, all through your mind. Fashion trends change from hour to hour, and self-inflicted weeping skin lesions become de rigueur.
Titus is your typical high school teenager...vapid, inarticulate, often bored, and self-absorbed. On one mission with his friends in search of fun, in a dance club on the moon, he meets a beautiful girl, Violet, with whom he strikes up a conversation. While at the club, though, a hacker taps into their feeds, and they must be hospitalized in order to reboot and remove all traces of the hacker's virus. It is only later that Titus and Violet realize that the attack may have had a more pervasive effect on Violet's system, and the repercussions of their dependence on the feed hit home.
Part dystopian world-building, part teen love story, part cautionary tale, part satire, "Feed" has a virtual banquet of food-for-thought. Is our reliance on media and the cyber world a step in this direction?
My thoughts: Put bluntly, I thought it was brilliant. No wonder this eerie little piece of fiction won too many awards to list. (I've counted 14 but there may be more.)
I was immediately mesmerized by the world that Anderson has built for us, but at the same time, I was repulsed by it. The focus on immediate gratification. The disfiguring one's own body because someone says it is the cool thing to do (sound familiar?). Teenagers that have been completely dumbed down and turned into consumer-centric drones. If I took the time to stop and ponder, I was repulsed because it isn't so far from reality. Are we really that bad?
But while Anderson is sending all kinds of messages, he doesn't take himself too seriously either. When one teen girl convinces another teen girl that her latest lesion, a recent purchase to impress her boyfriend and which is huge and is leaking viscera, sets off her eyes, you have to laugh.
I found myself extremely frustrated with Titus at times. He could be such a freaking teenage boy! He avoids the difficult scenarios and unpleasant conversations, and would prefer to get wasted than face reality. Which I am sure was Anderson's point. I'm wondering if the young adult readers, to whom this book is targeted, are getting it?
A word of warning. There are numerous curse words (if you were thinking about handing this over to your kids) and there are also many many slang terms. While slang can really get on my nerves, it didn't bother me so much here because it didn't seem forced, but a part of their vocabulary. But it is something you must get used to.
A word about the audio production: If you are on the fence in deciding whether or not to read this book, I would highly recommend you try the audio. The narrator, David Aaron Baker (narrator of the Dean Koontz Odd Thomas books) is the perfect voice of a lazy male teenager. What makes this audio production so unique, though, is that you get a taste of a real feed, aka commercials, with singing, lingos, music, the whole bit, that is rattling around in people's heads. Also, when people are having a mental one-on-one chat, there is a slight echo, which is a great effect. This creativity makes listening not just a passive activity, but an experience.
4.5 out of 5 stars