Title: Feed | Series: Newsflesh #1 | Author: Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) | Publisher: Orbit | Pub. Date: 2010-5-1 | Pages: 599 | ISBN13: 9780316081054 | Genre: Horror Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased |
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten 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, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
There will be spoilers in this review. They are more talking about the background of the Feed world rather than important plot points, but you have been warned.
Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. It is the most well-written, well-imagined and intriguing post-apocalyptic book that I have ever read. Grant leaves no stone unturned in her effort to bring us a book that feels like it could happen. The Kellis-Amberlee virus is the result of two very different helper virus (made from very nasty viruses) that eliminated both the common cold and cancer. Yes, in the Newsflesh world, no one has a cold and cancer is a thing long forgotten. However, these two fantastic, useful Utopian-esque viruses found each other, discovered they were completely compatible, and had a baby virus together. Unfortunately, this was not something the world could rejoice about,as that baby virus turned out to be the fucking Spawn of Satan. You won’t ever catch a cold or die from cancer in Grant’s world, but eventually you will die…and then you’ll rise.
The Kellis-Amberlee virus is fascinating for more reasons than it’s origin. For example, everyone is infected. Everyone. From the moment the virus passes through the placental barrier to the time you die, come back, and hopefully get shot in the head, you are infected. Even dogs, cats, and other animals are infected with the virus. However, the virus has a limitation. Infected beings that weigh less than 45 pounds can never amplify. (Amplify – Newsflesh speak for turning zombie.)
But, oh, yeah, you don’t necessarily need to be bit to go full on deadhead. You see, there’s also a small chance that you can spontaneously amplify! Normally it takes something upsetting the delicate viral load in your system (aka having more injected into you via a bite, spit, vomit, etc, from a zombie), but sometimes the virus kicks into overdrive for no particular reason. You can join your esposo in the shower for a little wet and wild, and then suddenly you’re no longer playing tonsil hockey, you’ve decided human tongue is on the menu. Isn’t that lovely?
So, how did the world survive all this? Simple: George Romero movies. See, lots of people had grown up watching George Romero movies, so when people started going Grr-Argh-Braaaaaaiiiiiins, lots of people knew how to shut that shit down. Now, needless to say, it wasn’t entirely effective, but it was effective enough that life went on. It just went on with a lot of changes. Like safe zones, people barricading themselves inside their homes and not leaving unless they had to, and blood tests. Lots, and lots of blood tests when you are exiting and entering areas. Whether it be walking into a shopping mall, or walking into your house. If you’re afraid of needles, you’re completely screwed.
Yeah, the world is different, but the Newsflesh world is not dead. There have been more changes than just getting needled constantly, though. And one of those changes is that being a blogger is actually a semi-respected profession. See, while the ‘news’ people were feeding you the “Everything’s fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.” line, bloggers were telling it like it was. They were reporting things that were actually happening, and sometimes that included recording yourself poking dead things with sticks. Fast forward to a couple decades post ‘Rising’, and now there are Newsies (reporting the news), Irwins (poking dead things with sticks. Named after Steve Irwin), and Fictionals (Poetry and stories in the post-Rising world.) And that leads us to our characters.
Feed follows two main characters, Georgia (George) Mason and her brother Shaun Mason. Georgia is a Newsie, Shaun is an Irwin. Together they form 2/3rds of the blogging team of After The End Times. The first blogging team to ever be selected to follow a presidential candidate, Senator Ryman, like ‘real’ reporters might do. The third part of their team, the Fictional, is Buffy. Yep, she calls herself Buffy for exactly the reason you’re thinking of. She’s cute, blonde, and living in a world filled with dead things. What else could she call herself? Buffy is also the resident tech genius.
Georgia and Shawn are adopted brother and sister and are very, very close. So close, in fact, that by the end of Feed you might be thinking to yourself that “Wow, that relationship just doesn’t seem healthy.” Or maybe you’re not thinking it at all, but there’s an itch between your shoulder blades that you can’t relieve. It’s a feeling that grows progressively stronger throughout the book, even though you have no evidence to back it up.
It doesn’t take long on the campaign trail before it’s obvious that someone doesn’t want Ryman to be president in Feed. Or at least they don’t want the After the End Times crew involved. The author does a great job of giving us a solid thriller disguised as a zombie novel. Sabotage is everywhere. People are getting shot at. People are getting killed. Politicians are being shady as a 100 year old oak tree. And nobody really seems to want to know the truth except for Georgia and her crew. And, eventually, they do find out the truth. Well, some of them do, at least. The rest of them are too busy being burned to ashes by the CDC. Yeah, the After the End Times crew doesn’t exactly make it out of Ryman’s campaign unscathed.
Feed immediately hooked me. This makes at least the third time I’ve read it now, and I still adore it. (Although I will say that the female narrator for the audio version of Feed cannot do men’s voices without making them sound like they all have headcolds.) If you’re wanting a dystopian world filled with small bands of survivors and desperate fights for survival against starvation, disease, pillaging, and the dead, this isn’t really the book for you. But if you’re looking for a unique, well-thought out world in which the zombie apocalypse didn’t bring civilization to it’s knees, look no further.
Now, with all that being said. Feed is my favorite book of the trilogy. The rest of them are okay, but there’s one particular detail that just squicks me out a little bit and means that I just can’t enjoy the following books as much as I want to.