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Feed by M.T. Anderson
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's review
Jan 19, 10

bookshelves: ya, sci-fi, life, not-graphic, voice, dark

I read this book when I was first getting into the world of young adult literature, and I've been recommending both it and Anderson ever since. Except I recently realized my memory of the book's specifics were rather vague, so I decided to give it another read from my current perspective. It didn't disappoint.

Anderson's range is amazing, particularly his ability to use entirely different language for each setting (see: Octavian Nothing), and the language used by the characters in Feed is our immediate guide to his future United States. The book begins:

We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, "I'm so null," and Marty was all, "I'm null too, unit," but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we'd been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun place for lo-grav on the moon. Lo-grav can be kind of stupid, but this was supposed to be good. It was called the Ricochet Lounge. We thought we'd go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel and go dancing.

Anderson doesn't patronize his readers with omniscient narrator explanations, but lets us naturalistically experience the setting through the story and Titus's voice. He does this with his development of language as something living, from new slang to today's profanity becoming acceptable and more. Most importantly, the characters' inability to articulate their thoughts illustrates the impact of life with the feed, of having an Internet-connected computer implanted in their brains from birth, so there's no reason to learn and internalize facts or vocabulary because the feed is always there to fill in the blanks.

Of course, a feed costs money, so the price for having one is a constant (internal) bombardment of customized advertisements from the corporations who provide and maintain everyone's feeds. I said, "Do you mean . . ." I stopped, and tried, "That could be taken to mean that . . . you know . . . we . . ." My feed was like, "Tongue tied? Wowed and gaga? For a fistful of pickups tailored extra-specially for this nightmarish scenario, try Cyranofeed, available at rates as low as--" There is no escaping the influence of the feed. Except for those too poor, who are then excluded from jobs, status, and just about everything. Feed is a stark, yet realistic vision of the future with an anti-consumer perspective and something to say about privilege and class.

But I get to this point in my review and realize I haven't even mentioned the story, which it most definitely has. A very good one, made all the more powerful and believable because of the language and setting I've gone into above. I'll let Titus describe it for you:

I told her the story of us. "It's about the feed," I said. "It's about this meg normal guy, who doesn't think about anything until one wacky day, when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold." I said, "Set against the backdrop of America in its final days, it's the high-spirited story of their love together, it's laugh-out-loud funny, really heartwarming, and a visual feast." I picked up her hand and held it to my lips. I whispered to her fingers. "Together, the two crazy kids grow, have madcap escapades, and learn an important lesson about love. They learn to resist the feed. Rated PG-13. For language," I whispered, "and mild sexual situations."

A reread has only confirmed to me that this is one to recommend. (A listen actually, to the meg youch audio production; very, very well done.)

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message 1: by Jama (new)

Jama Rooney I read this book years ago, too. Adding a "Feed" seems like the next step when I see everyine walking around texting or talking on a cell phone. I just might reread.

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