After I finished Parasite last year, I was absolutely desperate to read everything else Mira Grant had ever written, ever. Unfortunately I had no money and therefore sat pining for days in front of a rainy window pane, just waiting for the day when Feed and I would be united… And then Charlotte bought it for me as a Christmas gift, which was pretty much the best thing ever. God bless her socks.
Plot summary: The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
A lot of other reviewers read FEED before Parasite, and their reviews of the latter basically state that they’re both great but very similar. Personally, I don’t see it. Maybe the order in which I read them makes a difference but I just don’t see many similarities. Obviously the writing styles are similar (it being the same author and all) and both include ‘evidence’ from different media formats interspersed with the text, which works quite well. I don’t intend this review to be solely a comparison of the two, but I did think the overarching story, plot twists and characters were very different from its predecessor.
So. Zombies. And bloggers. FEED took me a while to get into, which I think is partially because I just couldn’t take the bloggers-saved-the-world thing seriously. I genuinely and literally managed to break my arm last night by tripping over a non-moving chair leg in a restaurant… ain’t no way I could successfully bring the mainstream media to its knees by investigating the zombie outbreak. Not this blogger.
Funny how I can believe perfectly easily in the cannibalistic zombies but not the people who saved the day. But, like in Parasite, Mira Grant has put a tremendous amount of effort into researching the science behind the disease that infected everybody in the first place. She describes in great detail the two strains of completely different viruses that combine and affect the human body in unforeseen ways. I’m not saying it could happen, just that it makes sense.
The blogging thing? Not so much. They’re split into three groups, all of which sound like something out of a Thursday Next novel and I just couldn’t take it seriously. Newsies, Urwins and Fictionals, I think they’re called. I understand the point and what it was meant to achieve, but it came off as a little too cheesy for me.
Feed is gloriously action-packed and fast-paced. There are plenty of undead crawling about along with a variety of twists to keep you on your toes. Some of them I saw coming but it didn’t matter because they were dealt with so well. Georgia, Shaun and Buffy have to make some difficult decisions and Mira Grant doesn’t pull any punches when she shows you the consequences. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s brutal or gory, but it’s not as light a book as you’d think.
Right. Not to be That Person, but I do have some issues with how women are portrayed in this book. Yes, Georgia is a strong female protagonist who doesn’t need a boyfriend (except for her truly creepy relationship with her brother) etc etc. Except, it makes too much of a point about this. The narrative constantly goes on about how sexless she is, how she’s never dated and how she tries to look as male as possible. She doesn’t smile, she doesn’t laugh, she doesn’t lighten up. This is where her credibility comes from.
Conversely, a female presidential candidate is dismissed as useless because she had a boob job. This from a ‘Newsie,’ proud of her ability to relate facts without opinion:
Word on the blog circuit is that Kirsten ‘Knockers’ Wagman had serious breast augmentation surgery before she went into politics… that worked for a while – it got her a seat in Congress – partially because people enjoy looking at her – but it isn’t going to get her very far in a presidential race.
We’re not talking about one of the great political minds of our age… Judging by the landslide of that first win, we’ll be seeing congressional hearings graced by a lady in lingerie long after the end of her term in office.
Georgia hadn’t even met Kirsten Wagman. Her campaign, political stance and manifesto were never even mentioned; just commentary how much of a skank she is for having a boob job. The message I take from this is that the only way to be respected is to look like a man and not date. If you have breast augmentation surgery or are in any way feminine, nope, go home. You cannot be President.
The ending to FEED is truly amazing. There’s no cliffhanger as such, although certain wider issues are left outstanding. I finished the book sat in Waterstones cafe, where I had such a shellshocked expression that the waitress actually asked if I was alright, which I wasn’t. At all. I think that’s the main point to take away from this review – Parasite is consistently good from beginning to end, but FEED makes up for it by walloping you with the ending. Both are good, but in very different ways.