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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guest Review: Feed by Mira Grant

Far be it from me to question the methods of the Jawas (they can be so temperamental).  They let me know ahead of time how they had managed to wrangle a review out of someone other than me and would I mind posting it on the blog?  I don't know which surprised me more: that they conned someone to the task, or that they showed some initiative.

Today's review comes from someone very special to me.  He's not shy by any definition of the word, but doesn't believe he'll "cause much of a stir."  I'd ask you to get riled on his behalf, but then would have to deal with the consequences.  Instead, enjoy JRT's second review of a book we really enjoyed: Feed by Mira Grant.

It was requested by the Jawas that I would do a review of Feed by Mira Grant after I commented about purchasing the book after reading their review. I'm not quite sure why they picked me but when a dozen or so Jawas ask you to do something, turning them down can be very bad for your health.

Feed sounded like an interesting book at first glance because I grew up with zombies. And I grew up with zombies without ever seeing a George Romero film. Instead my experience started with Capcom's Resident Evil series. Upon reaching an age where I could appreciate the horror of the living dead, the pixelated experiment gone wrong burst into popular culture and the youth of our generation.

I'm saying this because I love zombies, but rarely see them executed well. Feed makes every attempt to buck the tropes of bad horror and says "What-if" on a scale that will make nerds quiver with joy. What if humanity wasn't full of idiots that run upstairs and remove their ability to safely egress the house?  What if people were armed to protect themselves?  What if  loved ones were a secondary concern over self preservation?  All of these scenarios and more come together to paint a world where humanity has survived the global epidemic of zombie infestation, and it bleeds into every corner of the book.

However, zombies are only half the theme of Feed. Anyone who has been on the internet in the past 5 years can recognize the symbol on the front of the book as the RSS icon written in blood. Bloggers are one of the only factors that kept humanity alive during its darkest of hours. The rapid spread of information across the web during the outbreak kept individuals informed and in some cases got them to safety. This was in contrast to the print and televised media that downplayed the outbreak and got a good deal of people killed. As a result the bloggers are now respected individuals for news and entertainment.

As intricate and interesting as the world is, its inhabitants lack something, development.  I appreciate a lot of the characters that Mira Grant tried to create, but I never really felt a connection to them. The main character, a female named George, is an interesting protagonist.  As a blogger for a news website, she is cool and calculating, and almost overtly dark and brooding. Her brother, Shaun strives to be the opposite. He has made his career out of picking fights with zombies and filming the encounters, earning himself the title of an Irwin. The contrast of these characters and the supporting cast seems almost to be an afterthought. A lot of the interactions seem forced and the idle time spent by the characters is filled with odd obsessions with monologues about the post-zombie apocalypse world, banter between to adopted siblings whick seem way too familiar, and obsession with coca-cola.

Despite this, the book is impossible to stop reading. The attention to detail in the setting paints the scene that will make zombie nerds squeal inside. As a result it really is a set of boring and strangely behaving people in a spectacularly executed fantasy. The one unifying element that tied the setting and characters together for me was the blog entries. No matter what happened in the story, I never lost the perspective that I was watching this unfold over a set of rss updates, and streaming media from a Ustream video.

I recommend this book, on my personal scale the book was at a 3 and one adolescent jawa, but in the end it hit a solid 4 jawa rating. Read this book if you've ever wondered the "what ifs" of a zombie attack. Read it if the idea of alternate media taking over the information super highway excites you. Most of all read the book if you ever find yourself engrossed in an intricately crafted universe only to find out that 2 hours ago you should have been sleeping. In the spirit of the book I spent my time writing this review on my iPhone, with my shotgun safely within arms reach. You never know right?

Pete thinks this many Jawas would recommend this book:


Lily Child said...

Great review Pete! :) It's interesting to read your perspective on Feed. I am still on the fence about it, but you definitely make it seem worthy of reading! :)

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