Author: Mira Grant
Published: May 1, 2010
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Goodreads Description: 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.
If you told me ten years ago that I’d be a fan of zombie books, I would’ve told you that you must not know me. Turns out, I’m the one who doesn’t know myself (*cue the X-Files theme song*).
Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies roam the United States and people have adapted to live not among, but around them. New age journalists like the main character, George, and her brother, Shaun, help people in their daily endeavors by providing unbiased and truthful media coverage through their blogs. As the U.S. gears up for their presidential election, George and her team of blogger-journalists are selected by up-and-coming candidate, Steve Ryman, to honestly cover his campaign. The already difficult job of journalism is made harder in this story as George’s team encounters zombies, targeted attacks, and dangerous conspiracies.
The book kicks off with a brush with zombies and the promise of more danger down the line. I was particularly keen to see more clashes after the first chapter as the zombies Grant described seemed smarter and more organized than zombies from other media I’ve consumed. But, that first attack would be one of the only few zombie confrontations. The horror and adventure aspects of the story quickly took the backseat as the plot honed its focus on the presidential election.
Grant did an excellent job at creating believable societal issues relating to the fractured, zombie-ridden world she created. A handful of the problems mirrored our present-day concerns, such as gun control and public school funding, but with an added layer of complexity that naturally comes with post-apocalyptic times. When arguing over polarizing topics, the characters cited past events, court cases, and existing laws that Grant successfully detailed to give the world a sense of history and entanglement. This added weight to the importance of Ryman’s campaign and the need for bloggers like George’s team to safeguard the truth for the troubled public.
Truth—it was the powerful motif Grant highlighted endlessly. I appreciated that it’s what she chose to emphasize, but her attempts to deliver a memorable message inadvertently drove the plot off-course. By the end of the story, it appeared that every paragraph was a slightly different reiteration of the previous one about the importance of ~finding the truth~. Meanwhile, the story dragged. When there was “action”, it occurred during time jumps outside the narrative, stifling any potential excitement.
Now, there was a plot twist at the very end that was like no other plot twist I had ever read
(aka I WAS SHOOK). However, after the initial shock, I felt more frustrated than dumbfounded because of all the loose ends. There were numerous threads of conspiracies weaved into the plot, but none of them ever fully played out.
Don’t get me wrong though, there was plenty I enjoyed about Feed:
- the political debates^
- George being a tough, well-spoken young adult
- George and Shaun’s sibling dynamic
- the relationship between the journalists and Senator Ryman
- the big nod to bloggers as defenders of free speech
- oh—and the nod to fanfic writers 😂
With all this in mind, it still felt like there was some oomph missing. Maybe it’s that I wanted a book about zombies, but what I got was a book with zombies.
Despite my disappointment over the lack of zombie fights, Feed was still an interesting story about protecting our rights by searching for the truth. The political intrigue and resolute characters were not enough to make up for monotonous tone of the second half of the book, but it was a start. Lastly, while the plot twist was shattering, it left much to be told.