Oleg Kagan's Reviews > Feed

Feed by M.T. Anderson
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Aug 18, 10

bookshelves: tech-goodies, scifi-cyberpunk
Read from August 14 to 18, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Feed is a cyber-punk version of Brett Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis cross-bred with Brave New World. It stars a group of nihilistic, self-absorbed, and wealthy teenagers who spend their time partying, going to the mall, and slacking off in school. The story focuses on Titus, a moody young man (not unlike Clay in Less Than Zero), who is somehow different from his peers. This difference, however, may not be inherent in the character, but a function of Titus being the protagonist and winning the heart of Violet, a homeschooled outcast trying to catch up with the world in and out of the teens' comfortable enclave. Soon after we meet Violet, the group of teens is assaulted by an evil hacker at a night club on the moon - and that's when the story really begins.

What's really special about Feed is the complexity of the world we find ourselves in. One thing I enjoyed about Robert Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy is his ability to capture anthropological/sociological images of numerous societies different from our own - in Feed, we get to live in one for awhile. In the Feed world everyone in the United States that can afford it is hooked up to a "feed," a chip inserted into one's brain at a young age that takes control of vital functions while simultaneously marketing to the individual, constantly. This marketing is a result of corporations taking control of schools (and renaming it School Inc.), the government, and pretty much every other aspect of people's lives. Whether this was caused by the omnipresence of feeds (which were created by the corporations) or caused the feed's omnipresence, we do not learn. What we do learn is M.T. Anderson's dystopic vision of a dying earth and a rotting populace.

If that sounds like too much of a downer, do not read the last quarter of Feed.

While it is a downside that a portion of Feed was depressing, partially because the protagonist had an impotence (also like Clay from Less Than Zero) that made me want to shake him - the world Anderson created, including the neologisms, the large-view (as opposed to the specific story of the novel), and the excellent audiobook production (David Aaron Baker and a small ensemble of others) made Feed one of my favorite books this year.

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