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Feed – a review

January 8, 2011

For me, World War Z has always – since I read it, that is – been THE zombie novel. That position is now heavily contested by Mira Grant’s Feed, the first part of her Newsflesh trilogy.

Feed tells the story of two blogging siblings, Shaun and Georgia Mason, in a post-zombie apocalypse USA of 2040. The apocalypse happened, but it wasn’t in fact an actual apocalypse. Much like the ending in World War Z, humanity prevailed but zombies still remain as a kind of very deadly natural hazard. Life carries on with at least a semblance of normality, but the world is brimming with security measures. Blood tests, decontamination, access zones, licenses and the like are the norm. The world’s not a dystopia, mankind has simply learned the dangers of an outbreak.

Bloggers serve a similar function as today (and no, that doesn’t mean endless home-made fashion pictures of teen girls with pigeon-toed stances or hot young zombie/wargame bloggers reviewing books about bloggers), although their importance has grown substantially. Blogs offer a lot of the entertainment and news available, and are a viable competitor to traditional press. The siblings and their friend Buffy make up After the End Times, a blogging site delivering news (via Georgia), Jackass-style entertainment (via Shaun) and fiction (via Buffy). The presidential elections are coming, and the crew is chosen as the official press corps for a senator that’s running for office. That’s when things start to get interesting, as you might expect.

What makes Feed so excellent? The story itself is a combination of many things, being part horror and part political techno-thriller, without becoming a sloppy mishmash of different genres. Even that’s secondary to one thing, and that one thing is essential in a book: Mira Grant is a great writer. The main characters in the book are well-rounded, likeable and they feel natural. They have their flaws, their fears and their sympathetic little quirks, and importantly, these don’t feel tacked-on. I simply hate the age-old trick of “she’s perfect, but oh my god she has a tiny scar on her cheek which she’s SO embarrassed of, love her!” that a lot of poor writers go for. No cardboard cut-outs here, I’m happy to report. The book does have a bit of an obvious antagonist, though, if I were to point out something negative.

The story rolls along nicely, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader firmly in its grip. There’s humour, there are peaceful lulls, there’s action, there’s mystery and suspense, there’s pretty much everything you need in a book like this. There’s luckily also not a lot of romance going on. Don’t take me wrong, nothing wrong with romance, but again, a lot of poor writers simply misuse it as another way of making character likeable and don’t seem to know anything about basic human relationships besides. Grant works the humanity and love aspect into the tightly knit blogging crew and community, and especially the siblings’ relationship with each other, and it works a treat.

It’s not just the characters that feel realistic. The world seems to function pretty rationally and follows a coherent internal logic. Another point picked up by Ms. Grant here. The science of the zombie outbreak felt realistic, as did the politics and the near-future technology. Grant also seems to have a good grasp of the wonderful world of blogging, which a blogger like me enjoyed immensely. Lots of familiar things there, not least the occasional fixation on getting more and more readers. At the end of the book the writer acknowledges a lot of people responsible for all the little detail. What can I say, the research has definitely paid off and there’s not really much suspension of disbelief needed. Not bad, considering that this is a book about zombies in 2040. Even the names of the main characters aren’t clumsy nods and winks to the genre-savvy reader. Shaun of the Dead and Buffy the Vampire Slayer exist in the world, and the characters have been named after them. End of story.

I can’t really think of much negative to say about the book. It does clock in at a veritable 574 pages, but then again there’s not a lot of filler in there. There is a bit of repetition every now and then, especially with the security measures and tech, but then again that’s a two-edged sword: while it might be a bit dull at times, so is reality. For me it merely served to make the book feel more natural and realistic.

Overall verdict: If you didn’t gather it from the text above, this really is a nice book and easily on par with WWZ. It’s great as a zombie novel. It’s great as a techno-thriller. It’s near perfect as a zombie techno-thriller. It was good enough to keep me from putting my mittens on at the bus stop when it was -10 °C so I could keep reading. Get it.

As always, my copy came from the Book Depository. For more information on Mira Grant, visit her official homepage.

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5 comments

  1. When I reviewed this on my blog recently, I proclaimed it as the best zombie novel I’d read in 2010. It fully deserves to be bracketed in the same category as World War Z as one of the greats of the genre. Thanks for reviewing it as well, Mikko. It deserves to be read by as wide an audience as possible. I can’t wait for book 2 of the series!


    • Your review and favourable comments were a large influence on my decision to buy this one, thanks a lot Bryan!


  2. Thats a pretty glowing review Mikko. I stopped reading halfway (to avoid any potential spoilers) and went straight to the Book Depository: you havent steered me wrong so far…

    …but comparisons with WWZ are lofty. We all love WWZ dont we? Putting this book on a par with that is risky, but it has me really looking forward to my copy of “Feed”. Naturally I will blame you 100% if I dont like it 😉

    Thanks for the review.


    • Oh dear, how can I ever take the responsibility! 😀 Thanks for the vote of confidence, though!

      The review is a safe read, by the way. There’s nothing I hate more than spoilers in reviews, so I strive to write mine clean of those or at least give a solid warning beforehand.


  3. […] a modern zombie classic. Just see my review to see why, exactly.  It was a suspenseful, excellently paced story with good characters and an […]



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