From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Feed: Book One of the Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant

Review by Cynthia Ward

Back in the early decades of the twenty-first century, science discovered the cures for cancer and the common cold. Unfortunately, the cures didn’t play nicely together, and the resulting mutant virus has infected everyone in the world. Generally, the virus doesn’t activate unless you die; then it raises your body and sends it in search of living beings to eat and infect. And everyone dies, sooner or later.

The zombie plague is the worst threat the world has ever known, but life goes on. People embrace massive security efforts that make turn-of-the-century defenses against terrorist attacks look nonexistent. Americans embrace the trampling of their civil rights. And politicians continue to run for president.

Even though bloggers were the first to report that the dead were rising, they still don’t get much respect. Nonetheless, a trio of twenty-something bloggers—adoptive siblings Georgia and Shaun Mason and their friend, Buffy Meissonier—are tapped to join the press team of presidential candidate Senator Peter Ryman. The bloggers know it’s the biggest story of their lives, one that could catapult them and their assistants to the top of the net ratings. What they don’t know is that the story doesn’t stop with the campaign. A conspiracy of terrorists is plotting to seize power, and they’re not afraid to use the Kellis-Amberlee virus to assassinate people standing in their way, including the Ryman campaign and its bloggers. And the terrorists have planted an unsuspected mole in the blogger news team.

Mira Grant’s (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire) thriller Feed “feels” like science fiction rather than horror, but the bloggers’ varied first-person viewpoints immerse you deeply in a terrifying world. So deeply that the multitude of security measures can start to feel like padding, until you consider how quickly everyone would be zombified if they weren’t followed. The protagonist and her non-blood twin have a complex—possibly borderline-incestuous—relationship that would be disturbingly codependent in our world, but keeps them alive in theirs. It also helps keep them fascinating to readers. Compared to Georgia and Shaun’s folie a deux, the rest of the cast is not as well characterized or as interesting. One result: a rather two-dimensional villain is rather too easy to spot.

But the sibs are entertaining company, their thoroughly extrapolated post-apocalyptic world is a terrific setting, the SF zombies are skillfully rationalized, the body count is high, and the plot delivers some unexpected twists. So, while Feed has arrived in time to ride the pop-culture zombie juggernaut, and offers plenty of undead mayhem for zombie fans, it will also please readers who don’t give a crap about zombies.

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1)
Mira Grant
Orbit
ISBN: 978-0-316-08105-4
608 pages / Mass Market Paperback / $9.99 US

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