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.
I like zombie stories, whether they be books or movies, and if done well there is nothing better. I’ve watched my fair share of films over the years using this subject – some spectacular, some stinkers – but I’ve read very few novels about them. When I heard about Feed I knew it was a novel I had to read – a near future tale set 20+ years after the zombie outbreak in a world where bloggers delivered the news. Feed is not only a zombie novel, it uses blogging as a main part of the narrative and manages to extrapolate technology from today to fit its world. I jumped in feet first and was taken on a ride that completely and utterly blew me away.
Feed is the story of George and Shaun Mason who, along with their techie Buffy, are bloggers in a world where zombies are a common threat. They go into the danger zones, poke zombies and blog it to the world, but they also deliver the news on what’s going on, how bad things are in certain areas and just what to watch out for. Set in 2039/2040, over 20 years after the rising of the zombies, this is a world where everyone has to deal with the constant problem of zombies. With the US Presidential elections coming up George, Shaun and Buffy put their names forward to be the official news crew of one of the Republican candidates – Senator Peter Ryman – a man who many believe to be the next President. After being selected they join Senator Ryman and his staff on his tour of the US to drum up support and get voters to their cause, reporting the facts without bias. But not everything goes as smoothly as they were expecting…
Okay, first things first. This is a zombie novel, albeit a near future post-infection one. The most important thing to me is how the zombies are portrayed: Is the infection believably? Are the zombies believable in the way they act? Is the world behind the story believably? Yes, believability is one of the key points and Feed scores top marks in all those points, and then some.
The infection is essentially a virus that is a combination of two ‘cures’ that were released to the world in the early 21st century. Acting together it is in every human, but it lies dormant until death when it becomes live and turns the person into a zombie, but it can also be activated when the the person comes into contact with the live strain – i.e. through being bitten. All in all, very suitable to the story and completely believable. When the person becomes a zombie they are quick and deadly, but the longer they are a zombie, and the longer they go without feeding the slower and more decrepit they become. The explanations given throughout the story makes it chilling and very real. The world is built around the threat that it is faced with every day, with many security zones and a policy that means you could be shot dead if you can’t provide clean test results, and clean test results are everything in this world.
Suffice to say that Grant has managed to create a completely and utterly real world here. Everything about it is logical and believable and makes you wonder just how far from the truth it could be. The world building because of the infection is also a great aspect here with so many little details covered that add to the depth of the setting. The technology has grown in relation to the threat, but it isn’t that far off what we have today, and in a world where you could meet a zombie around any corner all the bases are covered. Feed really does make for some terrific reading and a master class on how to construct a world for a story to take place in.
But while all of this adds to the novel, it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all – you’ve got to have good characters and the story has to deliver the goods. George, Shaun and Buffy tick the first box, each of them having a unique personality and being able to carry the story through their actions. They can be serious, funny and annoying, but ultimately they are the right people for the job, crafted well and with a page presence that you can’t help but like. While the story is told in the first person through George’s eyes, and she is the main character here, I never once felt overwhelmed by her views or annoyed that it was yet another chapter told by her. Quite the opposite in fact – I loved it. The relationships that are present feel very real, are not forced during the story at all and manage to capture that special something that makes you care for them all.
As for the story, well, going into too much detail will ruin all the twists and turns. It is a story about a news crew following the senator’s leadership campaign and has many twists and turns with something clearly bubbling under the surface. We get to find out these things as the story progresses and Grant doesn’t pull any punches – she’s able to shock and surprise in equal measures.
I was taken in to Feed completely and read as much as I could whenever the opportunity arose. Even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about the story and the world – a sure sign that I’m reading a book that I’m coming to love. While this is the first part in a trilogy it still delivers a solid story and concludes fittingly, but I just can’t wait to get to the sequel when it’s released.