Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Feed, by Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire)

(This is a repost, of my review that appeared on SF Signal recently - reposted here for posterity)

Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (May 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316081051
ISBN-13: 978-0316081054

In a world where we are all, quite literally, zombies—just waiting for a bad day to shuffle away, seeking a hot meal—bloggers rule the news, social fear is taken to new levels and politics are (as always) the true evil. As a blogger vying for the big leagues, Georgia Mason tells the news the way it should be: full of fact and clean of bias. Shaun is her reckless brother, more interested making the news, than living life in something resembling a sane fashion. Together they take a ride that flies them higher than their wildest hopes and plummets them worse than their deepest fears.

Georgia is the voice of the novel that pulls you through, with smirks and chuckles; while Grant unveils a world where zombies walk and we somehow manage to survive. For the “connected”, this story will resonate with equal parts probability and fascination. For the rest, Feed is written as if speaking directly to the reader of today, making it not just entertaining, but accessible. Grant relates how the world evolved and changed from the world of today to the one of tomorrow and how they survived the zombie apocalypse. She skates the line of pulling the reader from the story, but manages to keep from falling off.

Grant’s research and imagination leap off the pages with convincing science. You will fear the results of medical revolutions that combine with horrifying results—or at least you should.

The real world political analogy is hard to ignore. The 2008 American Presidential campaign seems to be a heavy influence to the politics of Feed, making the book more relevant while also setting expectations that might have led to a more fulfilling realization, if the analogous parts had been more hidden.

Despite their nature, the zombies are not the enemy of the novel. They are a means and a method—perhaps obvious to anyone expecting a satisfying read, as they lack the intelligence to do more than infect and consume. The true antagonist makes themself known with the necessary zeal and fervor of any cartoon villain. Still, this book satisfies on so many other levels that most readers should forgive the thin veil of the antagonist. It seems certain that more, greater things are to come and I expect that some of the great drama that happened off scene in Feed, will probably come to full light in Deadline, part two of the Newsflesh trilogy.

The ending is gutsy and will quite literally blow “your” mind, even if the resolution lacks some of the cutting wit of the rest of the novel. Grant had fun writing Feed and (I think) you will enjoy reading this. When the zombies come, look to the blogs.

Four bloody stars.

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