Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: Feed

Title:  Feed

Series: Newsflesh Book 1
Author(s): Mira Grant
Genre: Horror, Political, Zombies
Publisher/Year:  Orbit/2010
-Webpage: Mira Grant
-Blog:  Rose-Owls and Pumpkin Girls

Synopsis:  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.

Review:  Originally I wasn't going to read Feed.  I knew it was about Zombies, but when the words 'politics' get thrown around I tend to run the other way.  Unless we're talking feudal politics, that I understand better (plus you often can 'win' by stabbing the opposition), but actual democracy politics confuse me too much.  So I was all set to mark Feed as that one Zombie related thing I was going to ignore.

Life has other plans.  At BookExpo, while talking with the cover designer Lauren Panepinto about her gorgeous work on all Orbit book covers (they are, bar few, some of the most eye-catching covers I ever come across), she handed me Feed and discussed how she came about with the cover.  Its pretty cool--Feed is a book about bloggers, Zombies feed so viola!  So simple yet so ingenious.  Anyhow she told me I should read the book despite my reservations.  She was so in earnest that I decided to give it a chance.

2 days later I was hooked and fangirl'ing to all my Zombie loving friends.

Feed is an almost undefinable book.  Its a Zombie novel set twenty years after the Rising in a market where most Zombie related goods are set either right before or during the original attacks.  Its a political novel that examines politics from the view of bloggers--3 different bloggers with different writing styles and focuses.  Its a horror novel that focuses less on the 'horrors' of surviving in a Zombie infested world and more on how to live in a Zombie infested world.  At times it almost feels like a documentary to me, aided in part by the fact Georgia (a 'Newsie', a blogger who reports the news as bare facts, no embellishments) is as truthful as the undriven snow.  She does not let anything--not personal bias, prejudice, fear--control how she writes.

Then there is Georgia's 'twin' brother Shaun (an 'Irwin', a blogger who seeks out dangerous situations and gives grandiose tales filled with opinion and fact equally) who fears very little in life it seems at times.  His bond with Georgia is tight and almost alive.  Though they share no actual blood they depend upon each other for everything, with everything and in spite of everything.  Its Shaun, Georgia trusts to have her back if things go badly.  Its Shaun who she knows will never let her down.  Its Georgia, who Shaun listens to (albeit reluctantly at times) to guide him.  Georgia who watches out for their best interests.

And then there's Buffy (a 'Fictional', her name is as fictitious as her writings; she writes prose and poetry, embellishing their tales like a bard did in Medieval times).  Spacey, sheltered Buffy.  Buffy grew up in a gated controlled community, whereas Shaun and Georgia (because of their adoptive parents mostly) grew up in 'the wild', or at least areas that had potential to go live.  She's tech savvy, but doesn't venture into the field any farther than the inside of their van.

The book is told from Georgia's POV.  She's sarcastic and driven.  I liked that Georgia freely admits to her faults and that while their parents helped them in many ways, they royally screwed them up in more ways.  The Masons were media-hounds; anything to earn extra limelight, earn some extra cash or to get their picture out there.  I think at first it may have been because they wanted to protect other people's kids from suffering the way their own biological son did, but over time it became who they were entirely.  I think they mean well by Shaun and Georgia, but I think also they wanted to stay above them emotionally because they couldn't bare to lose another child.

A deeper plot emerges as the presidential candidate Ryman's caravan goes underway.  Georgia and Co. know something is fishy and begin to investigate.  If nothing else they are united on one thing--to get the truth out there.  These are people who grew up in a time when viewers could no longer trust traditional news outlets.  The same news they turned to every night made light of the Virus and those affected by it, while people like Georgia were telling them ways to protect themselves.  Where it was safe and wasn't.  As a blogger, though not a politically minded one, I appreciated that Grant acknowledged the growing need for such a medium.

I'll tell you all this now also--Mira Grant made me cry.  Oh how she made me cry.  I won't say why, but she did.  And normally I can spot such things, but I didn't think it would happen.  I became invested in the book and characters and the situation they were in so I ignored the clues.  The choices made, the hints and outright comments.  Grant is as sneaky as Joss Whedon with her foreshadowing.  That's my warning to you all.

On to happier news Book 2 (Deadline, many editions list it being titled Blackout, this is wrong and Mira assured me it will be changed in future editions) is due out in May 2011 while Book 3, Blackout, is due out in 2012 (presumably in May as well).

My Interview with Mira goes live September 25th so be sure to check it out!