Published by Hachette Audio on May 1, 2010
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Audio Book •Source: Scribd
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat 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, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
I’m not digging up a quote. I can’t think of one that’s worth it. Yep. That’s how this review is gonna go.
Soooo. Wow. Uh. People like this? Like, a lot? Hoo boy. Well get your pitchforks and torches ready, y’all. This is gonna be a bumpy ride. Look friends. I don’t mean to get all elitist. I really don’t. But this was a real slod. To be fair I listened to this via audiobook so perhaps the person reading it is also painted my perception. But honestly man. I keep going through the book again and again in my head, trying to find the diamonds in the rough. The things I liked in the ocean of things I didn’t. There really aren’t many. As I go through this book, I’m going to point to what NOT to do with your zombie story. From my couch. Without a published work under my belt. /putsonarmchairnovelisthat. Let’s get to it.
Feed takes place after the (now) much explored in literature phenomenon, the Zombie Apocalypse. Our story follows two teens who are bloggers and report on goings on in the post infection world. They start out as a small network and then land a job following a presidential candidate around on his tour. Needless to say the proverbial s@#$ hits the fan and conspiracies are uncovered, friends become enemies, and a lot of people become vanilla and reanimated corpses.
So what did I like? Well. I liked a few of the twists and turns. There are a few moments that were actually quite good. I felt legitimate tension in a few scenes. For example, you find out a character initially thought trustworthy may not be trustworthy. Dun dun DUUUN. It was actually very well done and I enjoyed how it changed the direction of the plot and how it affected the characters after that point and the decisions they made. I almost liked the ending. You read that right. I would have loved it had the big bang dropped and then the book would have just ended right there. But it didn’t. I felt like I was in a film, I saw the last scene, and then they just kept going. The final ending lacked that impact. It felt less like a satisfying conclusion and more like a preview for the next book. That’s about it.
What did I not like? Well, (quip) as previously mentioned, I feel like there were a lot of things that have been done better in other (quip) books that explore the themes/ scenarios brought up in this book. (Quip) I mostly listened to this book on my commute, and there would be (quip) moments where I would stop paying attention because I was so bored. That’s (quip) never a good sign. (Quip quip quip) Like I said. I don’t want to just be a hater, but (quip) good lord. There were so many moments I was (quip) bored, rolling my eyes, or (quip) cringing, I stopped counting. By the time I got to last part of the book, I just wanted it to be over. It had become (quip) TORTUROUS. You might have noticed there are irritating (and literal) quips throughout this paragraph. This illustrated my first “what not to do.”
This is a general critique for anyone who wants to write books that are primarily about or starring teens:
Keep the quips appropriate.
My above paragraph? It’s obviously hyperbole but seriously guys. Teens do not speak entirely in sardonic, sarcastic remarks. There were times where the puns, quips, or sassy statements were nothing short of 100%, unadulterated cringe. I can take that maybe twice, 3 times a day tops. But when they drop multiple times A PARAGRAPH?! Holy Jiminy Christmas Batman. Sometimes quips would be being spoken as characters were dying, at risk of dying, or about to be killed. Sometimes they were IMMEDIATELY after someone died. One of the characters was dropping quips like they were going out of style immediately after their loved one died. Come on man. When loved ones die they leave a planet sized hole where they used to be. I know everyone deals with stress and grief differently but come ON. When he was dropping hot sarcasm I felt legitimate disgust. It really took me out of the story and made me really dislike the character doing it.
You can’t make the world so safe.
This may seem like a nitpick but hear me out. When you have a world altering event in which a humungous amount of the populace dies, I find it hard to believe that technology would grow at a rate commensurate with that event. The prime illustration of this is some of the security measures that are used in the book. At one point the narrator goes into detail about how the Van that the teens use for their mobile headquarters is basically a fortress on wheels that can hermetically seal and keep people alive in it for weeks. WEEKS. Oh boy I’m really feeling tension if that thing gets surrounded. It even has tires that keep going with BULLET HOLES IN THEM. Come on. I’m supposed to believe that a couple of teenagers could afford all this on a blogger’s salary? It doesn’t end there but I don’t want to beat a dead horse. TL;DR- If your world is too safe, there is next to no tension.
Your universe’s lore should not be delivered in information dumps.
This is the classic “show don’t tell.” Look I get it. Some of the information about the world is important. But there are better ways to convey information than paragraph upon paragraph of info dumps. The inner workings of the virus impressed me. I like the modern take on the “I am Legend” idea that the virus was initially a cure that has gone horribly wrong. There was a lot of legitimately interesting elements of lore. But my enjoyment of these aspects of the world got a big fat black eye because they were delivered in unbearably long info dumps that completely broke the flow of the chapters they were in. Sometimes it didn’t even make sense that the character was talking about something to another character who should have known what they were talking about.
If you’re gonna have an apocalypse, go all the way.
The book, at one point, states that 32% of the world’s living population died. 32%? That’s babytown frolics. Do I claim to be an expert in contagion? No. But according to the books own mythos, this made very little sense to me, especially since the mythos goes full Walking Dead in that EVERYONE IS A CARRIER. When everyone carries the disease and spontaneous turning is a thing you’re gonna tell me that the vast majority of the population is still alive? When you’ve got population density like India, China, and the urban United States? My scoff barely died in my throat.
Let your ending’s impact land.
So the book reaches its climax on the plot graph. I was actually kind of surprised and engaged with what happened. Then I checked how much time I had left in the book. “Surely not,” I thought, “That was the end-“ Then immediately after this omg moment, the book totally goes back to being pulpy nonsense. The conclusion is among the worst I have seen in a book. It approached Halo 2 and original Mass Effect 3 levels of disappointment. It’s supposed to be this big climactic scene, but it just made my head hurt. Not to mention it closed the door on oh so many plot points for the (already released) sequels. It was a classic snatch of defeat from the jaws of victory.
Develop the interesting themes you explore. Ditch uninteresting ones.
Exploring things like government corruption, the cost of public life as a politician and of victory in an election, the loss and devaluing of humanity, the limits of freedom and security, religious zealotry and the laws of God vs. men, and countless other things brought up in this book are great. The skeleton is there. But the problem is this skeleton gets some weird, non matching bones put onto it. Themes that are barely explored or mentioned once and then never again. For example, there’s a constant running theme of how far someone should go for ratings. It is tightly linked to the kind of reporting that individuals do in the universe of the book. More importantly, it walks hand in hand with the theme of abusive, using parents in this book. But that element of both of those themes only gets brought up at the very beginning or very end. Going deeper would have been as simple as shaving an info dump or two to have Skype-esque calls with the parents. But nope.
Look I want to be crystal clear. I can see why people like the book. I can see why it would be popular. The premise and some of the plots in it are interesting, if even in idea only. I’d say the book is style over substance but it sure wasn’t my style. I think that any story can be interesting. I think that this story has a lot of potential. But that just meant it had a lot to live up to and it never measured up. There were also times it got uncomfortably close to being a little… Lannister with the two main characters, if you know what I mean. For those of you typing that they were not blood related in the comments, that’s some anime level of justification. If you want better zombie stories there are a lot out there now. Ones with characters that don’t make me want to do the old facewall.
Did you like Feed? If so please tell me why in the comments below. I’d like to hear why.
About the Reviewer
Max is a twenty-something psychology grad, avid gamer, and self-proclaimed Hufflepuff. He and Cristina met in high school, where they bonded over a mutual love of food, Harry Potter, and Disney. When he’s not dutifully attending book events with his book blogger fiancé, he can be found gaming, reading fantasy & sci-fi, and becoming overly invested in Food Network shows with Cristina.