the Little Red Reviewer

Feed, by Mira Grant

Posted on: August 24, 2012

Feed, by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)

published in 2010

where I got it: library

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Feed isn’t a zombie book. It’s an anti-fear, anti-stupid, pro-truth and pro-common sense story that’s cleverly disguised as a zombie book. It’s a story about the power of information, the power of censorship, and the paralyzing power of fear. The obsession with security and  blood testing is a mirror held up to our fears of terrorism, catching diseases, and general anxiety about, well, everything.  At times, Feed reminded me of some recent Cory Doctorow books, and that’s also a good thing.  Also, I find the title highly amusing as some nice wordplay on what the zombie virus makes a (dead) person do, and what we call a chronological listing of blog updates.

Feed is my first zombie book, so I could be completely wrong thinking most zombie books take place during the zombie outbreak, and focus on survival. The first trick that Mira Grant flawlessly pulls off is setting her story nearly a generation after the original zombie outbreak. We’re twenty some years into it, and cities have strict security,  blood testing for the virus is nearly everywhere, and society seems to run on a healthy dose of government promoted fear.

In Mira Grant’s future Earth, it was the combination of two supposedly harmless viruses that caused the zombie apocalypse. Trick number two that she pulls off is medical infodumps that are actually interesting. Bah interesting, they are downright fascinating. Everyone is infected with a sleeping version of the virus, and when you die, the virus comes alive, reanimating you.

Georgia (she goes by George) Mason and her brother Shaun are news bloggers.  Twenty years and a zombie apocalypse hasn’t changed how the “pro” media views bloggers, as in George and Shaun fly under the radar, do their own thing, and are overtly looked down upon by the more professional media.  When the Mason siblings win a chance to work with a Republican Senator who is running for President, this could be their chance to change how the world views independent news bloggers.   Many of the chapters end with blog entries, and I just loved those.

But this isn’t just any presidential campaign. In the time of zombies, security guards carry portable blood testing units, vehicle caravans are bullet proof, and you wear your kevlar under your evening wear.

To add to the fun, Georgia has a rather unique medical condition: she has a version of the virus in her eyes, making her very sensitive to light, and making her test a false positive on some of the cheaper virus testing gear.  For a bit there, I got annoyed that her eye condition seemed to come into every single conversation, and every single interaction with nearly every other character. But then I began viewing it as a handicap, and I realized that for someone who is blind, or someone who is in a wheelchair, their handicap probably is a part of every aspect of their lives, especially when they may need to get up or down a flight of stairs, fill out a form, or reach the right button in an elevator.

And then there is the last trick that Mira Grant pulls. It’s a trick that I’ve seen successfully done only once before, and if you’ve read Feed, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a mean, cruel thing she does, and she does it so well, and so flawlessly, that I had to be okay with it.
Feed has interesting characters and an fascinating, unique premise. That’s great and all,  but did I enjoy it?

I loved the first hundred pages. I appreciated the pop-culture jokes, I loved the medical infodumps. And I almost cried at the end.

But man, those four hundred pages between the beginning and the end sure took forever. Tons of scenes of Georgia and Shaun’s every day doings and some technobabble that even they don’t understand. Their discovering that some of the people who work for them are maybe a little deeper than everyone thought.  Random interactions with zombies, random interactions with humans. Politicians smiling and shaking hands and getting interviewed. Georgia having to explain her eye condition, again. More blood tests. More dialog about Shaun taking unnecessary risks. Much of the character interaction was starting to sound repetitive and I was getting bored.  Very bored.

Ultimately, I needed that oh shit moment to show up a lot earlier. It’s the oh shit moment that keeps me reading a book that is, under everything, supposed to be a thriller.  And that moment did eventually show up (and it knocked my socks off when it did), but I nearly missed it, because I almost stopped reading around page 300.

Am I happy I finished Feed? Yes.  Will I continue in this series? probably not.  Will I read more Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant that isn’t this series? most likely. I’ve sampled some of Seanan McGuire’s short fiction, and I really liked it.

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12 Responses to "Feed, by Mira Grant"

I read this last year… There is an interesting world set up but the focus on US politics was not gripping enough for me – some of the characterisation of some of the supporting cast came off as false. That ending was pretty raw stuff. Ultimately I felt the same way you did after reading the book. Despite the second one being in the library I’m not going to read it.

That said I’ve read worse zombie fiction…

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And yet again, my TBR list grows… :D

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I read this book some time last year and like you I got bored. I think it’s a very clever book and really well thought out. It just didn’t do it for me really – I put it down, at the time, to the fact that I actually wanted to read a proper ‘flesh-eating’ zombie type of novel with blood, buts and edge of the seat type of moments and this is more a political thriller (so no need for the cushion in front of the eyes). I also found the constant repetition a bit much – I think the book would have had more punch if some of that had been cut down. Well written though and really good ideas but not my cup of tea – it’s almost like it’s a zombie book but trying to be too normal (if that makes sense). I couldn’t help feeling why even use the word zombie or why bring them into the story if it’s going to be a political thriller? Just use some other type of virus. I guess what I’m trying to say, not very eloquently is that it felt neither mainstream/contermporary or fantasy/paranormal (or even horror for that matter) a bit like a political thriller but let’s throw in a few zombies as props to give it a different edge.
I also haven’t felt the urge to read No.2. Would still look at this author’s works again – she pays a lot of attention to detail for sure but not this series.
Lynn :D

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Sounds ok but a bit like an attempt to cash in on Zombie Apocalypse! by Stephen Jones or World War Z by Max Brooks.

Both of those are told in the form of Police reports, tweets, personal diaries, blogs, medical press releases, SMS, emails etc. Again lots of pop culture jokes and a mix of writing styles.

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I think Feed was my favorite out of the series. I really enjoyed the whole series though.

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I actually put this one down at one point and came back to it again months later, and ended up loving it, so completely understand where you’re coming from:) Glad you iked it!

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Read it last year and loved the book. I didn’t mind the middle pages because it was world-building for me. Of course, I was traveling when I read it so that might have helped the enjoyment.

And you’re right….she pulls off one heck of a twist in the final quarter of the book. Never saw it coming.

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I really enjoyed Feed, but it is my favourite of the series, so if you bored for parts of this I would guess you are right not to pick up the next one.
I’ve also read some of her October Daye series; they are great fun, imo.

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Thanks for the review! This is actually next on my TBR pile, a friend who loves the series recently loaned it to me. At least now I know what I’m getting into ;)

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Thanks for this review. After trying and failing to read Zone One I had given up on reading zombie novels but found this at a thrift store for cheap and picked it up. I’m saving it for R.I.P…

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Bummer you weren’t head over heels for Feed! I was. OMG I love this trilogy. All the descriptions of how life has changed since the Rising kept me interested for the middle part. I thought the books got better and better, too. I’m glad you at least made it through to the end of the first book. She really does pull off that ending amazingly well. Not to mention, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira) is one of the coolest people on the internet. There are a bunch of podcast interviews out there, and she is a) hilarious, and b) a genius. Have you read her Urban Fantasy books (published under Seanan McGuire)? I wasn’t as impressed with those as I was her horror/Mira stuff. (And now that I actually looked…) I just saw your post for Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage, and I need to get on that.

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I’ve been thinking about reading Feed for a while. I’m picky about which zombie books I read. Another that isn’t “typical” is World War Z. It takes place after the zombie war and it’s really about the people who fought and the people who survived.

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