Feed by Mira Grant

Feed, the brainchild of Mira Grant (pen name for author Seanan McGuire) is a book about zombies.

I guess one could be excused if they approached Feed with the mindset of ‘Oh, yet another zombie novel.’ After all, we’ve been inundated with stories about zombies for the past few years with everything from World War Z to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There is even the forthcoming novel Plants vs Zombies (based on the popular game).

But one would be wrong to dismiss Feed so lightly. It is a masterfully crafted work on how life exists following a zombie apocalypse.

So to revisit our first statement – Feed is about zombies and the life afterward, when not only have we survived, but so have the zombies. It is a vastly different and darker world that Grant weaves for us and a remarkably intriguing one at that.

Feed takes place twenty years after the zombie outbreak. In a twist of irony, the outbreak is brought on by the mutation of cures for the common cold and cancer into an airborne virus named Kellis-Amberlee. Upon death or in certain circumstances, the virus flares up and turns its host into a zombie. The virus has infected nearly every person and creature on earth.

Stop and think about that for a moment.

In death, you will rise up again. There are no exceptions. In life, you hope there isn’t a viral flare up and suddenly you’re munching on Uncle Bill’s noggin. This simple fact transforms society in an incredible number of ways.  People are content to remain in their homes, tested frequently, and venture out rarely.  Grant’s world is well thought out and touches on these changes in the course of the story.

While Kellis-Amberlee does provide us with plausible zombies, they are not the focus of Feed. As the main protagonist says, “The zombies are here and they’re not going away but they are not the story.”

The primary storyline of the novel follows Georgia and Shaun Mason, siblings and bloggers who have been picked to travel in the press pool of Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Ryman. The campaign itself is a great tool in letting us see the post-infection world and introduces us to a wide variety of characters.

Much of the story takes place from the view point of Georgia, a Hunter S. Thompson-esque journalist always eager to seek out the truth. Often sarcastic, Georgia is a fine counter balance to the psuedo-insane antics of her brother (a professional ‘Irwin’, aka, can i buy gabapentin online Zombie Poker) as well as a running commentary on life after the infection.

In a world in which the common man is afraid to leave his house, bloggers provide unfiltered news. (Hence, the book’s cover of a bloody recreation of an RSS feed icon.) The importance of bloggers and social media as a whole has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool in a world to the survival of mankind. In hallmark of the story’s subtle humor, the advice of one George Romero (of Dawn of the Dead fame) and other paragons of horror movies have made them heroes and saviors.

Through Georgia and the occasional blog entry, we learn about how the zombies came to be and other circumstances that have changed the world without feeling like we are dragged into an info-dump. This includes even the small things, such as the size of graves or how much of a news story going out to eat can be. In her unrelenting pursuit for the truth and as journalists are apt to do, Georgia stumbles across a conspiracy which threatens the lives of all those around her.

Feed hits all the right emotional moments and at the right time – suspense and horror, light hearted and a lot of subtle humor. There is, of course, tragedy and it comes frequently.

That is not to say Feed is without its faults. For instance, Grant seems insistent on reminding us that Georgia suffers from a retinal disease brought on by KA, mentioning it nearly every chapter and sometimes more than once. Good for the plot and character building but after a bit I found myself saying “I know that. Let’s go.”

Some of the characters are stereotypical and there is generic interaction among others. Despite the length (571 pages), the plot does not allow for a great deal of character growth. The ending does provide hope for the sequels (Feed is the first in the Newsflesh trilogy). On occasion, the author seems overly eager to share her knowledge of virology but that is easily forgiven as it brings the story together. This all falls into the realm of nit-picking.

Overall, Feed is an excellent novel and one that I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of zombie, horror, or even light political thriller genre. Even more so for those who might be worn out on the plethora of zombie titles out there. Feed is worth a read.

Mira Grant – http://www.miragrant.com/

Feed : Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound

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