We're going a bit old school with our Dystopian Monday feature today, by reviewing Mira Grant's Feed. We've been hearing about Mira's Newsflesh trilogy for years now, but for one reason or another, have never gotten around to reading it.
However, when we heard that Mira has a new book coming out in the fall called Parasite (Parsitology #1), we figured it was high time to jump on the bandwagon. And we're so glad we did. - T
Published May 1st 2010 by Orbit
Format read: Physical copy (owned) ISBN: 0316081051
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Zombies have been a hot topic in films since the days that George "The Godfather of Zombies" Romero first came out with Night of the Living Dead in 1968, but it wasn't until Max Brooks' World War Z was published in 2006, that people seemed to realize that zombie-themed books could make for compelling reading as well.
(And yes, I know that Brooks came out with The Zombie Survival Guide in 2003. However, I would argue that it wasn't until the popularity of WWZ that the first book gained more attention).
Since then, we've had a slew of popular, adult zombie-themed releases like Justin Cronin's The Passage, Alden Bell's The Reapers are the Angels, and Jonathan Mayberry's Dead of Night.
In the young adult genre, we've seen books like Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly - just some out of the many titles in the field.
But with such an influx of books about the walking dead, just how can a book stand out from its peers?
In Mira Grant's Feed, she makes the unique choice of using zombies to demonstrate how the socio-economics of a world can change after an apocalypse situation. It's a book which explores how people can view politics in a different way, how news can evolve, and even of how people can adapt to living in a world of frequent life-and-death situations.
Things that worked:
From the very first chapter, it's clear that Georgia and Shaun Mason are well-thought out, well-rounded characters.
Grant cleverly throws the two of them into a life-and-death situation on the very first page, which does an excellent job in establishing:
* How the two siblings react differently to high-stress situations,
* How they react to each other when they are in a life-and-death situation,
* And their primary goals as bloggers/journalists.
Witnessing their reactions as they get out the situation while also getting the story, does a lot to establish the strong bond between the two of them, while also establishing how the post-Kellis Amberlee world has changed how people react to the world around them, while getting the news.
We spend most of the book in Georgia's head, and she's an intelligent, likable character. She's often rude and snarky to the people around her, but more often than not, she has a reason for behaving in that particular way.
I especially liked the fact that there were moments where she (and Shaun) proved to the adults in their life that:
* They are just as intelligent as grown-ups in figuring out and handling difficult situations, and
* They will not necessarily freak out and act like kids, when faced with challenges.
I think younger readers will be attracted to the idea that Georgia and Shaun are treated as being just as intelligent as said adults, and possibly learn from how calm they can be, when faced with obstacles.
As for the secondary characters, I highly enjoyed the fact that none of the characters are perfect. A few of them have very fatal flaws, which impact others
The book zips along at a fairly quick pace. After a brief introduction into Shaun and Georgia's world, they join Senator Ryman's campaign.
From then on out, we're introduced to a series of bombshells, explosive moments and unexpected plot twists. Without giving too much away, I have to say that Grant does a good job of making each twist seem completely fathomable. This is really a testament to her ability for world building.
Grant writes in first-person, present tense. It works with the urgency of some of situations that Georgia and Shaun encounter, along with the news stories that they have to cover.
I also enjoyed the fact that each of the chapters were opened by snippets from Georgia and Shaun's blog - again, it reinforced how the two of them were different, but equally passionate about what they were doing.
And after certain bombshells are dropped later on in the book, these entries also become very heartbreaking.
As for everything else:
* The science. I'm not a microbiologist, so I have no idea whether the science presented re: the Kellis-Amberlee virus is accurate or not. However, I appreciated the fact that Grant makes it a point to explain the virus in easily comprehensible terms, without making it seem like she was belittling the reader.
* The politics. Loved the fact that current political climate concerns are incorporated into the book, and Grant makes cohesive arguments for the candidate.
* The setting. Grant makes the interesting choice of setting various sections of the book, in towns which normally aren't featured in YA - e.g her decision to set the climax of the book in Sacramento, CA. Loved seeing these less popular towns featured.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
* A very easy-to-spot villain. There wasn't a twist in this case, which kind of felt anti-climatic.
Other than that, I didn't have any particular objections to the book. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
I recommend this book for fans who enjoy reading dystopian/sci-fi books, but also books that have a stronger emphasis on studying human nature. I especially recommend this for fans of Justin Cronin, Susan Beth Pfeiffer, and S.A. Bodeen.
One note for educators and/or parents who may be considering recommending this book to younger readers: there are very graphic scenes in this book, and the ending is fairly shocking. Younger readers may want to discuss what they've read.
About the author:
Mira lives in a crumbling farmhouse with an assortment of cats, horror movies, comics, and books about horrible diseases. When not writing, she splits her time between travel, auditing college virology courses, and watching more horror movies than is strictly good for you. Favorite vacation spots include Seattle, London, and a large haunted corn maze just outside of Huntsville, Alabama.
Mira sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests that you do the same.