Monday, February 25, 2013

FEED by Mira Grant - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on in January 2011. Seanan McGuire is the Author Guest of Honour at JordanCon 2013, and I am positively stupid with excitement!]

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: FEED (book one of The Newsflesh Trilogy)

Author: Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant

Format: mass market paperback

Published: 2010

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Science fiction

Publisher:  Orbit

Landed in my hands: purchase myself

Summary (from the cover blurb):

The year was 2014.  We had cured cancer.  We had beaten the common cold.  But in doing so we had 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.


Okay.  Here’s where I trot out the first of my many dirty secrets:  I’m a genre bigot.  Yep.  I read speculative fiction, but I’ve never read a zombie book before, and I wouldn't deny it if I was accused of turning my nose up in the general stinky, sticky, gory zombie direction.  Last January, though, I decided that the year would include new reads — stuff out of my usual norm.  And with that in mind, when Rebecca from Dirty Sexy Books proclaimed Feed as the winner for the December book club slot, I decided to give it a go.

And I’m certainly glad I did.

Feed bucked my vision of what a zombie story would be.  Sure, there were gory undead running around, along with super-charged security to help keep the living alive, but I didn’t expect to find a political campaign and an engaging conspiracy theory inside this book, regardless of what the cover blurb said.

Immediately the story opens with action, and keeps moving.  If there isn’t action on screen, then the narrator, Georgia, is explaining the dystopian, zombiefied world in an engaging way.  It helps that Georgia is a blogger, used to reporting the news and keeping to facts.  She’s entertainingly observant when it comes to her companions and the events around her.  I’m surprised I managed to put the book down, because every time I picked it up, I was shocked at how quickly I was engrossed again.

There were several things about this book that I found refreshing, including the shocking fact that the coverage of the US political campaign didn’t bore me.  (Seriously — this is big!  When people say "politics" my brain hears the wordless wonh-wonh of adult babble from Shultz' Peanuts.)  Georgia has a snarky, smart slant to her that makes her recount of politics interesting -- she’d gloss over the boring parts or pick it apart in an amusing, grumbly way, or focus briefly on technology or a historical tidbit that added to the story’s realism.

The presentation of technology in 2039 is realistic and yet not too tech-y.  The lockdown procedures and constant testing for infected individuals are logical, and though they feel paranoid at times, it’s mostly due to culture shock.  I couldn’t imagine wandering around constantly being pricked, basically every time I enter or leave a place (or want to get into my own vehicle).  And every time someone had to have their hand jabbed, I thought of how freaking painful that would be — constantly?  And yet, no one really complains until the very end!  (Thankfully someone did — it was beginning to drive me bugnuts!)

What I absolutely love about Feed, though, was the close brother-sister relationship between Georgia and Shaun.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such realistic sibling closeness, and given the circumstances of their lives and the world they’re in, it makes perfect sense.  This quote from Georgia kind of sums it up:

Steve’s eyebrows arched upward.  “You two would rather share a room?”
His expression was a familiar one.   We’ve been seeing it from teachers, friends, colleagues, and hotel concierges since we hit puberty.  It’s the “you’d rather share a room with your opposite-gendered sibling than sleep alone?” face, and it never fails to irritate me.  Social norms can bite me.  If I need to have someone guarding my back when the living dead show up to make my life more interesting than I want it to be, I want that someone to be Shaun.  He’s a light sleeper, and I know he can aim.

So yeah, overall?  Feed is one of those books that makes me happy I forced myself out of my comfort zone.  Cheers!

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