Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Feed by Mira Grant

Publication Date: 2010 in US


In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as "Marburg Amberlee"—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed "The Rising," and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all:

When will you rise?

Joshua's Take: 4/5☆

Why I picked up the book: a story about journalism, zombies and blogging? Seriously, did Mira Grant write this book for me?

I am a journalist by study if no longer by trade and while the world of news no longer interests me as a profession, I am still fascinated by reading the news, or to more precise, how newsies go about their craft. And as we all know, especially you, purveyor of our blog and I'm sure countless others, most people get their news online or from television. The majority of people first hear about something from the John Stewart Show, Colbert Report, or watch news stream instantly online from any war torn area. Newspapers can no longer compete. It's a both sad and sobering thought because the truth is, bloggers don't have a filter. This is both freeing and cumbersome, the idea that now I can write as much as I want, about whatever I want to, unfiltered and unfettered, but I don't have an editor, someone to pare down the post to the essentials. I'm also my own fact checker now and that's scary. What I'm trying to get at here is- imagine a world where the zombie apocalypse has happened, and now the world has been saved and gets its information from everyday modern journalists who run their own blogs, no filter no fact-checking but their own- and god help us because that's the very definition of chaos.

I'm not going to lie, nothing brings me more pleasure than a good zombie and vampire story. I'm a sucker for the decaying flesh and blood sucking fiends, but while I do read a lot of their stories, I'm also very picky on what I consider good, because damn I read a lot of their stories and I want to be impressed. Mira Grant has crafted a fascinating world, post zombie apocalypse style. So many stories I read about zombies deal with the zombie infestation rather than the aftermath, the thought about the daily life of people who have to live with zombies shuffling around. Do people run and hide and cry? Sure, some do. But many others just go about their daily lives, just now in fortified cars, with guns and more watchful eyes.

Mira Grant is the pen name for urban-fantasy author Seanan McGuire who has penned two previous novels (Rosemary and Rue and A Local Habitation) both of which I have not yet read. But man, after reading Feed, I'm eager to read her other books. She has created something special with Feed. It's reality and horror though information, a story of how people can be at times even crueler than wave after wave of zombies, a story about a world rebuilding through politics and journalism, though faith and death, through virus and understanding. The zombies are here to stay, but we can survive if we have enough information on the hows if not the whys. We can all thank Mr. Romero for that one.

However, what really got me about Feed, what really kept me glued page after page, were the main characters, the Mason brother and sister, or to be precise, the sister, Georgia Mason. While Sean Mason is the balls to the walls, fun Irwin of the story (Irwins are journalists who go out and like to poke zombies for the viewing public's pleasure), Georgia Mason is part of the Newsies, journalists who give you the information straight as they see it. Her character reminded me so much of everyone's and mines journalistic ideal, Hunter S. Thompson, or more specifically, Warren Ellis's warped vision of Thompson, Spider Jerusalem from one of the greatest comic book series- Vertigo Comics, Transmetropolitan. If you want to read awesome, check out Transmetropolitan now!! I'll forgive you for leaving me mid-thought. So yeah, we have Ellis's Thompson personified dishing the news on zombies, all the while fighting for the political future of a post zombified United States. Seriously Feed is all about bloggers covering the up and coming Presidential caucus and the zombies that appear to be out to assassinate them and thepresidential hopeful they are following. God, is it any wonder I love this book so much?

I will say that the book does drag a bit as sometimes the POV shifts back and forth, and I wasn't a fan of the final POV shift, although I understand it, but damn if I don't want to accept it. But yeah, while the book does get bogged down a bit with too much character exposition, with conspiracies on top of conspiracies that are just a bit to easy, a bit to transparent to figure out as you sit there screaming at the characters, "why don't you see it, you're smarter than that." However that by no ways takes any of the sheer fun out of the book.

Feed is the first in Grant's Newsflesh trilogy with the second book, Deadline, hopefully coming out soon. Seriously, Feed has it all- great action, poignant deaths (I mean come on right, this is a zombie book), chase scenes, zombies, more zombies, great heroes on the front line reporting the news so people can feel safe. This is what war journalism would read like if zombie's were the new and constant threat. Hide and be scared, but there's no reason to feel afraid and lost because the Mason siblings will do whatever it takes to bring you the news, even if it costs them their lives. A must read for any zombie or journalism fan.

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