Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review - "Feed" by Mira Grant

Every so often I come across a series, or a new author, that really gets me going - the kind of story that is so good I sit up 'til the early hours of the morning because I just can't put it down. The kind of book that is so good, I dream about the plot in my sleep. The kind that leaves me crying when a tragedy happens to a character I empathized with.

Last week I read a book that did all three. "Feed" gripped me in the second chapter and refused to let go until it had rung every drop of adrenaline and emotion from my body, leaving me as limp and exhausted as a bride on her wedding night - and all that without a single mention of sexual behavior or activities. Unusual, to say the least.

One of the things that really struck me was how the author handled the news organization. In the last two decades, our society has seen a huge changed in how the news is delivered. Newspapers used to be the number one source of news, but now most young people have never even read a newspaper. Television news used to be considered reliable, with hard-hitting and ethical reporters braving war zones to inform the people. But nowadays, major media tends to be biased, and opinions are given more weight than facts.

In Mira Grant's world, the same thing happened. And when the zombie outbreak occurred, those news organizations were quick to announce that there was nothing to fear. "It's just a new type of flu, very localized and quick to recover from." The truth was released by a new form of media - bloggers. They had no organization breathing down their backs and demanding that they conform their reports to the accepted story, and it was their posts that brought the walking dead to light. This power continued past "The Rising".

We live in a world where internet protests shut down SOPA, and the overthrow of violent regimes are being organized on Facebook and Twitter. This makes Mira Grant's world even more believable. And I love how she organized the different bloggers - those who report straight facts are Newsies. Then you have the Stewarts, who report opinion informed by fact. And those who go out and harass danger to give the viewers a little thrill? Irwins. I have to admit that made me crack up.

The focus of the book is less on the zombies (though they do make several appearances), and more on the sociological changes brought about by the apocalypse. Even the simplest activities that were taken for granted are no longer available. For example, sending your children out to play on a warm day used to be the norm. Now, it's considered child abuse. Owning a family dog is suddenly fraught with danger. Even a shower is no longer a simple thing.

Midway through this book, the wind moaned around my house and sent branches tapping against my window. I nearly jumped out of my skin! If you only pick up one new book this month, make it "Feed" - and perhaps follow it up with the second book in the series, "Deadline". The third book is due out this summer.

(I should also mention that the author has published several books under a different name, Seanan McGuire. I haven't read those yet, but they are on my kindle and waiting for me.)

Friday, February 24, 2012


This morning we woke up to that eerie utter stillness that says snow fell during the night. I looked outside and saw that our neighborhood had been blessed with about five inches of very heavy snow. The pine trees in our backyard are bent over from the weight of the flakes, and in the early dawn light, the entire world glistened in pure innocence.

The boys were up at 6am, asking if they could read until breakfast. I sadly had to tell them no, not yet - snow means work. The driveway had to be shoveled so Sean could leave for work, and Jonathan jumped on that chore. Sean's breakfast, lunch, and dinner also needed to be packed (he works 24 hour shifts), and James and Jacob helped with bagging chips and washing fruit. We managed to have everything ready in plenty of time for Sean to leave early, which seemed smart, since we don't know the road conditions.

School is delayed two hours, and I'm grateful. Normally, right now, I would be rushing around making sure the boys are ready to leave ("Jacob, you need to wear layers for warmth" followed by "Um, Jacob, by layers I didn't mean to wear eight tee-shirts. Just one tee-shirt and a sweater is enough!"). But thanks to the late start, I am able to type this while oatmeal simmers on the stove, and the boys are mashing bananas to make bread. We'll all be able to take some time to cuddle on the couch with our books and read together. And our morning won't be rushed at all.

I wish every day was a late-start day.