Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Feed by Mira Grant

In my editorial that I posted last week I mentioned that Feed by Mira Grant was the best book that I'd read in 2010. I also noted that it deserved a more detailed review, so here it is. In the year 2014 mankind had cured cancer and the common cold but at a terrible price. A virus spread causing the infected and the dead to return as flesh eating zombies. Over twenty years later humanity has evolved and learnt how to survive in a world populated by millions of the undead. For the most part, this means staying indoors and living in rigourously monitored enclaves, where checks and tests for the zombie infection are an everyday occurance. The more important the area you want to visit, the greater and more thorough the tests become. These tests are so routine and commonplace that the populace accepts them wholeheartedly. Few dare travel across the country, so great is the fear of infection.
Feed tells the story of a trio of bloggers - Georgia and Shaun Mason and their friend Buffy Meissonier. Georgia and Shaun are siblings and all three are teenagers, meaning they were born after the outbreak began. As a consequence, they never knew what life was like in a world where zombies never existed. Blogging has become such a growth industry as more and more people turn to the internet for the news of the day.
Georgia is the narrator of the story and the most level-headed and grounded of the trio. Shaun likes to live dangerously and in the eyes of his sister takes too many unnecessary risks. Buffy on the other hand, is much more reserved and shuns the limelight. Her forte is that she is a technical whizkid. Their lives change forever when they are asked by Senator Peter Ryman to record his presidential nomination campaign trail. Ryman is one of the first politicians to see the merit of involving the blogging community to join him personally on his quest for the presidency of the USA. All goes well at first, until one night their security is breached and a zombie horde almost breaks through the supposedly impregnable perimeter. Lives are lost and lessons are learned. From then on it becomes increasingly obvious that someone is out to stop Senator Ryman at all costs.
Mira has crafted a very believable world and comes up with a plausible explanation for the zombie virus or as it is called in the book - the Kellis-Amberlee disease. The development of the world of blogging has been well thought out, with bloggers categorised as one of four archetypes - Newsies, Irwins, Stewarts and Fictionals. Georgia is a Newsie, Shaun an Irwin (named after Steve Irwin the Australian wildlife expert) and Buffy is a Fictional.
The novel is divided into five parts, with each part becoming more gripping and absorbing than the last. At the end of part four there is a death that I could never have predicted and is such a shock. Even though it's not quite the end of the book it is such a huge sting in the tail. I read parts four and five in one sitting as I was so emotionally tied up with the story that I had to know what happened next. It was one hell of an emotional rollercoast ride!
It is fair to say that Feed starts off slowly as it introduces the major players and the very different world they live in to ours. The pace picks up once Georgia, Shaun and Buffy are chosen to ride with the Senator on his campaign trail. You won't have much trouble in predicting who the main villain is but by the end of the book it is just as obvious that he/she was working at the behest of someone else. Which neatly leads to book two. Feed is the first part of a planned trilogy and if parts two and three are anyway near as good as part one, I'll be a very happy bunny indeed.
What made this book such a compelling read for me was that the main characters were people I cared about. Even the senator came across as likeable and trustworthy, traits that I wouldn't normally associate with a politician. As a blogger myself I could instantly relate with the heroic trio. No one is perfect in real life and in Feed everyone has their flaws, which only makes them more believable. This is a novel that can be read as a political thriller with zombies, which is how I described it to my parents. They both read it and both enjoyed it as much as me, which is high praise as neither of them has ever read a zombie novel before. Some may be disappointed that the zombies only make a few appearances but the threat of them is ever-present. Don't let that put you off. This is far and away one of the finest zombie novels I've ever read. Book two will be called Blackout and is due to be released in the summer of 2011. I can't wait!


  1. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. Good review...

    I'll give it my seal of approval too. It wasn't what I was expecting and the zombies are pretty incidental to the story. The characters are well thought out and 3D, which makes a refreshing change.

    The idea that we are a bigger threat to our survival than the zombies was a nice slant. I'll be getting the rest of the series for sure.

  3. It's true that the zombies are incidental for large parts of the novel but that never bothered me. The threat they pose is very real. But yes, characterisation is definitely one of the book's strongest points.

    If you order it from Amazon, check out how many good reviews it gets, especially the 5 star ratings, compared to the negative comments.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book a while back. Thanks for the review. I think you are right on target. An excellent read. What I didn't know is that it is only part one of a three part story! Now I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it. After all, the novel did kind of leave me hanging...

  5. Hey VtG, hope you had an enjoyable Christmas! I'm going to order this today, actually right now! As someone said 'Thanks for Sharing'! ;)

  6. @PDoid. Yep, it's part one of the Newsflesh trilogy. Part two starts off where part one ended. There are still many issues to be resolved.

    @Colin. I had a very quiet Christmas, which is just how I like it. I spent a good part of the day painting figures. I'm busy working on a batch of 30 Killer B Games 28mm scale 1970's style civilians and criminals. Some of them will turn up in my ATZ campaign. Mostly though, I bought them because of my love of cop shows "The Sweeney" and "Life on Mars." I'd love to run a game or two based on those two shows. I've got the "Geezers! Shut it!" rulebook by Killer B Games, which concentrates on that particular genre, but I think Critical Reaction by THW might be a better choice.

  7. Hey VtG, I like that genre too - I grew up looking forward to watching The Professionals every week, although The Sweeney was a bit before my time ;) Anyway, just swung by to wish you a happy new year, and hope the horde keeps growing!

  8. And a very happy new year to you too, Colin. Did you know that Killer B Games make figures of Bodie and Doyle from the Professionals? I loved that show as well. KBG seem to have most of the 1970's style cop shows and films covered with figures from the Sweeney, Life on Mars, Starsky and Hutch and Dirty Harry. All great stuff for a nostalgia buff like me!

    I can guarantee the horde will grow. My aim was to reach 500, which I passed easily. So, do I aim for a 1000 now?

  9. I read the preview for this book and very much liked it. It seems to have a zest that many zombie books are lacking. So I ordered it and added it to the growing stack.

    I recommend this book in a similar vein,
    all in blog form;
    Living With the Dead: With Spring Comes the Fall by Joshua Guess
    Its about a community trying to rebuild after the ZA. Its a small press book and very cheap but its a very good read, especially if you buy it at the kindle price.