The world was a weird place before the Rising. After the Rising, with an estimated 87% of the populace living in fear of infection and unwilling to leave their homes, a new breed of reality star was born: the reporter. While you can be an Aggregator or a Stewart without risking yourself in the real world, it’s hard to be an Irwin, a Newsie, or even a really good Fictional if you cut yourself off that way. So we’re the ones that eat in restaurants and go to theme parks, the ones who visit National Parks even though we’d really rather not, the ones who take the risks the rest of the country has decided to avoid. And when we’re not taking those risks ourselves, we report on the people who are. We’re like a snake devouring its own tail over and over again forever.
–Feed by Mira Grant
Feed by Mira Grant
Feed is a young adult dystopian novel about Georgia and Shaun Mason, two adopted siblings who work in the media post-zombie apocalypse. The violence of the zombie virus complicated much of modern society, but humanity was still able to rebuild – they built communities behind quarantine lines, and developed protocol to ensure that everyone moving from place to place is safe from the active zombie virus. In this world, Shaun and Georgia have been given an opportunity to report on the campaign of a popular presidential candidate. Of course, in a world plagued by zombies, nothing is easy, and Georgia and Shaun face far more danger than they expect.
There wasn’t anything revolutionary about the zombies in Feed, but there really didn’t need to be. These were some great, classic zombies – they bite to spread the virus, they move slowly, they are dangerous in packs but not too bad alone, etc. I really didn’t need anything spectacular about the zombies in Feed, though – the real value lies in the world development.
The absolute best thing about Feed is the thought that was put into nearly every detail of living after a zombie apocalypse. In Feed, everyone is infected with the virus – there’s no getting around that. Instead, Feed thinks about zombies in terms of the activity status of the virus. A few things can cause the virus to activate, and after that happens, the person is as good as dead. The safety of society is therefore dependent on blood tests – before entering a home, visiting a restaurant or convention, exiting some cars, and meeting with important people the characters must pass a blood test proving that they are safe. The book also considers who may and may not be affected. It answers the question of whether some or all animals can turn into zombies, how long it takes to turn fully into a zombie, what it looks like to eat outside at restaurants, why it’s a bad idea to enter a garage two at a time, what protocols are necessary to drive from one city to the next, and so much more. All of this is also presented in the moment, making it feel very natural rather than just an info dump.
Without giving too much away, let me just say that Feed really steps up to give us complicated with highly individual motivators, unique back stories, and lots of room for redemption. The character building in Feed is some of the best that I have seen in a long time. And I love getting this out of such a fast paced speculative fiction novel. I was highly invested in the stories, but I also just cared about the characters on a personal level. Beautifully done.
In all, I will give Feed an 8 out of 10. This was a great, fun read and it definitely thought about zombies from a new and fascinating perspective. However, if speculative fiction isn’t your thing, you can pass on this one.