March 12, 2012

Review: Feed

Mira Grant
Newsflesh Trilogy #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Rating: 5

In a world where zombies have become the norm and the world has learned to just live with them, bloggers and siblings, Georgia and Shaun Mason, have just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime. Their application to cover Senator Ryman's campaign for President of the United States of America has been approved and they are on their way to true blogger fame. However, when things begin to go terrifyingly wrong Georgia makes it her duty to unveil the truth  and share it with the world, even if it means wading through waters infested with politicians and zombies.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not your teenager's zombie fiction.  Grant has put together an intricate and well thought out world for her characters who are just as gritty and strong as the world they live in. I was fascinated by the political and journalism aspects and have great expectations for this series , so much so, that I went out and bought Deadline last week after only reading a few chapters of Feed.   I enjoyed how the zombies weren't exactly the main focus of the book, but always lingered in the dark corners waiting for their chance to make a move. Without giving away spoilers, I can say that less than 1/4 of the way through, you realize the zombies aren't the real villains of this novel, but a tool. This concept is what finally hooked me after the extensive info-dump the first part of the book turns out to be. 

The Virus
I was thoroughly impressed with the intelligent tone and Grant's obvious extensive research. The Kellis-Amberlee virus isn't just some all purpose explanation for why the zombies are around. Grant describes the virus so intricately, if it didn't reanimate the dead, it would sound like something that could be present in the near future. The origin of the virus is described for the reader in great detail making the creation and spread believable by playing on the rash actions of today's extremist groups. The virus is so well developed in fact, that it really is its own character. Dark and sinister, it lays dormant in all living creatures just waiting to come in contact with an active strain of itself. Once it does, it amplifies rapidly inside its host, slowly enough for the host to get near others while still appearing normal, and quickly enough for the one person to have the potential to create a hazard zone the size of a large city. No one is safe, and eventually, everyone will succumb to the virus, even if they die a natural death.

The Pacing & Narrative
 It was kind of slow to start, but everything that contributed to the slowness was vital information. The narrative can come across a bit dry in spots between the action, however I believe this is due to the author staying true to the voice of her narrator. Georgia is such a 'let's get right down to business' sort of person that this style makes complete sense. One of the best aspects of this book is that nothing feels irrelevant. Not once did I say to myself, "Now that was definitely filler." Literally every scrap of information either helps you understand the world and the characters better or it sets up impending plot twists. 

Georgia & Shaun
This sibling duo is one of the best I've ever read. They offset each other perfectly with Shaun's mischievous, devil may care attitude balancing Georgia's more dry, goal oriented personality.  Or does she balance him?? I truly believe they need each other to function properly. Shaun adds much needed comic relief to the story and often punches up a dry section of dialogue nicely.  

I read a lot of reviews for this book before and during my read and noticed almost everyone makes a comment about an implied "relationship" between the two. While I did notice these implications, I didn't' find them as obvious or damning as others did.  I felt the implications were fairly light rather than the "in-your-face" vibe I got from some of the reviews. I agree that it does appear there is something going on there, but I don't think everyone who reads this book will notice unless it is pointed out to them. There is never any confirmation of a romantic relationship between the two and readers going into the book expecting one will be greatly disappointed. The occurrences are so light and few that they could easily mean something completely different. The only reason I feel these claims are warranted is because of a statement made by Georgia at the end of the book. I won't get into this further in order to avoid spoilers.
The Twists
 My God the twists! There are quite a few with two really major ones that will completely throw you for a loop. I obviously can't go into them, however I will say they make this book one of the most shocking and fluid reads I've ever had. My warning to you all is under no circumstances should you read descriptions, summaries, reviews, or the backs of the other two books in the series. These WILL give away major plot points and HUGE spoilers for the first book.

The End 
A reviewer friend of mine on Goodreads gave me the same warning that I just gave you all. Unfortunately I did not see it in time to save myself from my own curiosity. Curiosity really did kill the cat, or in this case, the ending for Feed for me. I was so mad at myself and now that I know how it all ends, I'm sad because I know this book would have been even better had I not seen it coming. Let me tell you, you do not want this epic ending spoiled for you so please stay away from the other books or anything about them until you finish this one! 

Even with the spoiler, the end still hit me hard and I literally bawled. I had myself a good, soaking wet, snotty, hiccup inducing cry. Not just because of the shock of this plot twist, but because of the way the author handles it.  The portrayal is perfect and heart-wrenching and felt so right in its context. Grant stays so true to her characters and I am just blown-away with the entire book. 

The Final Verdict 
 Feed truly lives up to the massive hype and deserves every nice thing that is said about it. I really couldn't find much fault anywhere. The writing is fluid and intelligent, the characters are well developed and maintained, and Grant's dedication to making this book absolutely brilliant shines through on every page. Personally, reading this book made me want to be a better writer, blogger, and media consumer.

Zombie skeptics and newbies will find this a nice transition book as it is more focused on the drama and the characters than  the actual zombies and gore. Zombie veterans and developing fans will find it a fresh take on their favorite rotting fiends.  Everyone will learn a thing or two about virology, politics, and just what it takes to bring us the news. I can not think of a better way to begin a series. 

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