Series: Newsflesh #1
Published by: Orbit
ISBN 13: 9780316081054
Published: May 2010
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: Deadline (Newsflesh #2), Blackout (Newsflesh #3)
In 2014 they discovered a cure for cancer and the common cold. The world should have been perfect to live in, but life is never that easy.
In their efforts, they created something much worse. Zombies, once only a topic of Romero’s films, are now fact. Those still alive suffer every day with the fear that the virus (held dormant in their bodies) could go into amplification at any moment, and that the same could happen to their beloved pets (those which are over a certain weight). There are also other disabilities as a result, which are in our standards pretty common – our own main character is afflicted with retinal KA, rendering her pupils permanently dilated which causes quite a few issues throughout the book.
The novel is told through the eyes of Georgia Mason. She, her foster brother Shaun, and their friend Buffy – their names clearly a hat tip to George (Romero), Shaun (of the Dead) and Buffy (the vampire slayer) – are all bloggers. In this world they are the reporters of ours and are separated into four groups – Newsies, Irwins, Fictionals and Stewarts, depending on what they report on. Newsies report what does happen, Irwins poke things until they do happen, Fictionals are creative – poets, authors – and Stewarts provide a running commentary. (Is Irwin a reference to Steve Irwin? And Stewarts to Jon Stewart? That I’m not quite sure on.) They have the training and permissions to enter the most dangerous areas, and get the related job offers. Such as following the presidential campaign, which is just what happens to our favourite bloggers.
Georgia, Shaun and Buffy can hardly believe their luck and think they’re finally moving up in the world. At the start of the book they work on the side of another site, live at home (well, Buffy lives elsewhere) and they hardly pause to consider the offer before they’re accepting, celebrating, and preparing to move on out. Little do they know that luck isn’t always as lucky as it seems, and that even with all the security the presidential campaign demands, it may not always be enough.
Feed is different to the other paranormal novels I have read recently – Warm Bodies, The Passage, Parasol Protectorate… It’s very direct, it feels very real, and it’s very serious. The level of detail is astounding; it covers everything from the start of this apocalypse, to the level of security and hygiene now undertaken as part of everyday life, to which pets you now can own, and which parts of America you are allowed to live in… even what it’s like to go out for dinner at a nice restaurant.
At the start of each chapter there is a section taken from one of their ‘blogs’, which explain the past, the present, and shows their inner thoughts – which makes the world believable and fills the gaps the fast paced novel can’t supply.
It’s also interesting in the way that killing zombies, and zombies themselves, aren’t the main theme of the novel – they exist, but they’re not really the storyline. The book explores humanity whilst using zombies to make it accessible to our generation. There’s gore, but this is much more of a political thriller, yet, as you read it, it feels much more fun than ‘political thriller’ would generally seem at first glance.
It also has a slight twist on the fact it’s very wordy. In a glance parts seem to be more of a report than a novel, yet it only makes it feel so much more real – that this is actually how they would be blogging and writing it out if it were actually happening. It works.
Feed connects with you and stretches the boundaries of what most consider safe writing – certain events in this book will surprise you – things that you don’t expect the author to attempt, let alone get away with.
This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 13th May 2011.