Just take a look at the name of my blog and you’ll see readily enough that I am a fan of zombie stories. To me, they are the true test of an author’s skill in the horror genre. I’ve read my fair share of them over the years – some good, some bad, and some VERY bad. I’m happy to say in this case, though, that “Feed” is one of the best that I have come across in a very long time.
I’ve said many times in the past – I’m ready for zombies to overtake vampires as the “monster de jour”, and there is a very simple reason for that. Zombies are a force of nature. They don’t fall in love, they don’t brood, and they don’t look longingly in to someone’s eyes while showing off their six-pack abs. They move inexorably forward and eat people – plain and simple. That by itself, however, can be incredibly boring. What a good zombie story does is tell you how the people being chased by the zombies react. How do they cope? What do they do? What does the constant threat of infestation do to a society and to a person’s mind? How an author tackles those questions is what can give you the essence of a great zombie story – and that is where Mira Grant excels in “Feed”.
The year is 2034, and it’s been 20 years since the “Rising” occurred and the dead began to reanimate. (A nod to Brian Keene in that name – one of the many clever references in the book). Georgia and Shaun Mason (again – love the nods to Romero and “Shaun of the Dead” in those names) are bloggers looking for their big break. Bloggers have become a vital resource for information – during the Rising, bloggers where the first to offer the unvarnished truth about the epidemic. Senator Peter Ryman has chosen to invite Georgia and Shaun, along with their partner Buffy, to be the official press representatives for his campaign. That opportunity sets them on a path that will not only change their lives, but may well change the lives of everyone in the country as a whole.
When you boil it down, there are really two types of zombie stories. There are stories about how the zombie apocalypse started and there are stories about what they world is like after the zombie apocalypse takes place – I happen to like both. “Feed” falls mainly in to the latter category. As Georgia blogs at one point:
The zombies are here, and they’re not going away, but they’re not the story. They were, for one hot, horrible summer at the beginning of the century, but now they’re just another piece of the way things work. They did their part: They changed everything. Absolutely everything.
What Grant has managed to do in this book is create a fully realized world – a world that feels like it’s where we would be after the zombie apocalypse. There is a distinct culture of fear and survival; there are numerous pop references that flow out of the constant threat of zombie infestation; and there is a language and attitude that is unique to this story, but feels natural.
The story entertains on many levels. It’s hard not to use this review to line out the mythos and culture you will find in the book. I am able to resist, only because I don’t want to ruin, for you, the sense of discovery that I felt while reading the book. It’s a book that has engaging characters, thrilling action sequences, a good examination of politics and human nature, and of course – zombies. But when you strip away the zombies, the story of “Feed” is really one about truth. It’s about Georgia’s quest to find and report on the truth – it’s about the dangers the world faced during the Rising, when the truth was suppressed – it’s about the hard reality of growing up and facing the truth of things that you sometimes don’t want to hear. Georgia says it best:
The difference between the truth and a lie is that both of them can hurt, but only one will take the time to heal you afterward.
That’s a powerful statement, and one that goes to the core of what “Feed” is about. In a world of constant fear and danger and loss – how valuable is the truth? In many ways it is the difference between learning to live instead of trying not to die.
I enjoyed this book far more than I had anticipated. It’s that rare combination of a great story that also happens to be a great zombie story. I really found myself invested in the characters and was emotionally affected by the ending in a manner that happens far too infrequently for me these days. For that, I have to thank Mira Grant – job well done. “Feed” is the first book in a planned trilogy. I cannot wait until I am able to revisit that world and see what the future holds. For the sake of everyone who lives there – I hope it holds the truth.
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