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.)

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