Monday, July 16, 2012
Review: Feed by Mira Grant
Tags: dystopian, paranormal, zombies, journalism, blogging, politics
In the years following a zombie apocalypse that changed our world as we know it forever, adopted siblings Georgia and Shaun Mason work hard as first-class blogger-journalists, combining the hard truth with exciting stories. When Georgia, Shaun, and resident technogeek/fiction writer Buffy are selected to be the exclusive blogging team for Senator Peter Ryman’s presidential campaign, little do they know how much their lives are going to change. For it seems like there’s a murderous conspiracy underfoot, and Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy are going to get pulled right into the middle of it.
For years I had been pulled along by the neverending tides of high praises for FEED before I could finally read it. And while FEED, in my opinion, didn’t quite live up to all that praise, it is still one of the better zombie books out there, albeit gratingly slow-moving at times.
The best thing about FEED is unarguably the world-building. This is what world-building should be like: everything with a reason to be, the science behind the Kellis-Amberlee virus that turns people into zombies explained, the far-reaching consequences of the existence of the virus into every facet of people’s lives, from where they live to how the media has involved since the present day. I was impressed by how well Grant thought everything through in her world.
Unfortunately, the very thing that makes FEED so great is also what primarily contributed to its lowered rating for me. Perhaps in excitement over the amazingly detailed world she created, Grant overindulges in the world-building details—I know, right?! Me, complaining about overindulgence in world-building? How strange. The narration, however, doesn’t leave the world-building well enough alone once the world has already been thoroughly established. Instead, even on page 400 or so, readers still encounter “As you know, reader…” sentences everywhere. The repetition is unnecessary and thoroughly grating, at least on me. It made me feel like Grant didn’t trust the reader to have a complete picture of her Newsflesh world, and thus had to keep on emphasizing the same points, over and over: Shaun’s suicidal Irwin tendencies, Georgia’s antisocial nature, the blood tests (and their annoyance over how often they have to do it—if they’re annoyed, can you imagine how readers might feel, having to read about their blood tests and their irritation over it in every chapter?), and so on.
FEED’s strength—and weakness, at least for me—lay in its world-building, but the characters are good enough as well. Nothing to call home about, but Georgia’s cool and collected narration was admirable, and Shaun and Buffy’s exuberance provided a welcome contrast to her personality. I saw the shocking thing at the ending coming early, so wasn’t that affected one way or another by it.
Overall, FEED should impress those who enjoy postapocalyptic or zombie stories with an emphasis on thorough and believable world-building. It didn’t blow me away emotionally, and the Inner Editor That Could insists that the book would’ve been much better had 200 pages been cut from it, but I still more or less enjoyed the time I spent with it.
Cover discussion: Brilliant. Really conveys the convergence of zombies and blogging in a memorable way.
Orbit / May 1, 2010 / Mass Market Paperback / 608pp. / $9.99