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Feed by M.T. Anderson
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Jul 15, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, 2008
Recommended for: Anyone over 13
Read in August, 2008

Feed is a much more complex novel than it appears to be. So much of the story is told by things left unsaid or details told in single sentences sandwiched in between unrelated paragraphs. The blurb on the back of the book is totally misleading. The girl, Violet, is not a rebel and she’s not out to change the world. She’s a lower middle-class teen. Her mother left and her father, a college professor, home schools her. The narrator, Titus, meets her on a spring break trip to the moon. Violet wants to fit in with the “normal” kids, but her way of speaking and thinking creates a chasm between them.

What makes this story different that the typical coming-of-age novel is the futuristic setting in which most people have computer interfaces installed in their brains when they are infants. These “feeds” provide people with instant access to any information they could possibly want. But, they mainly use it to message each other and to shop. The feed subjects them to a constant barrage of advertising that’s directed to them based on their shopping and browsing habits. Sound familiar?

While on the moon, Titus, some of his friends and Violet are touched by a creepy old man who infects their feeds with a virus. The teens are hospitalized for a few weeks and their feeds are disconnected until it’s certain they are virus free. Unfortunately, the virus causes permanent damage to Violet’s feed with disturbing results.

In the background, you slowly come to understand that the Earth that these teens inhabit has gone seriously wrong. Most people have access to untold consumer goods. They can communicate with others quickly and silently. They live in a Jetsons-style world with “upcars” and houses in bubbles connected by tubes. (Maybe it’s a giant human Habitrail?) It sounds kind of utopian until you realize that a forest has been torn down to make an air factory, you can only go to the seashore wearing something like a space suit, and there are mentions of radiation levels increasing. What’s disturbing is that the characters see all this as normal. They are so caught up in pop-culture and consumerism that they don’t see all the really terrible things happening around them and to them. They’re getting oozing lesions and they think it’s really cool and fashionable. They don’t even stop to wonder what’s causing the lesions or realize that lesions are signs of disease. One thing I give Anderson credit for is never telling the reader outright what the cause of the lesions is. I figured it out, but I suspect a lot of readers, especially younger readers, will miss it.

I saw some complaints about the way the story is told; that it’s too slangy and hard to understand. I didn’t find this to be the case. I thought the slang created for this book was perfectly suited for the characters and the setting. Anderson doesn’t try to mimic the way teenagers today talk and how they think. Instead, he creates a teen language that is based on having 24/7 access to information and entertainment inside your head. Yet, he also managed to keep quite a bit of timeless adolescent attitude in the story. These kids weren’t any smarter or less attitudinal than kids have been for the last fifty years. In fact, they aren’t quite as savvy as modern kids.

I highly recommend this book for any reader over 13. It’s intelligent and thought provoking. It doesn’t give the reader all the answers; it makes him or her work for them. I was very impressed.
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02/20/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Lori (new)

Lori Sandi! You may be my hero - a book that boys can love? I grovel at your feet.


Sandi We'll see. I told my son he'd really like it and I put it on his shelf. I think he might prefer "Soon I Will Be Invincible" though.


message 3: by Lori (new)

Lori *rushes off to look up Soon I Will Be Invincible*


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