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.
The zombie apocalypse has been done in so many ways, so many times, but impressively, not like this. In the majority of zombie plagued fictions humanity is an ever thinning heard, in which a band of varied survivors haul up somewhere to beat the horde; in FEED, the first book in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, the majority of humanity is actually winning, with civilisation having adapted to live alongside the infection. We’re talking quarantine zones, security up the wazoo, and a whole lot of bleach, all combining to create something worryingly plausible. In an ironic twist, the amalgamation of cures for various diseases is the cause of the virus reawakening the dead, making everyone essentially pre-infected. What a world we have to look forward to in 2039…
The world-building is fantastic, and the perfect backdrop to a horror, sorta-kinda political thriller, journey through the walking dead. As previously stated, the emphasis throughout the story isn’t so much on the zombies, but on how the remainder of the populace has dealt with them, and the changes their appearance has made on daily living. One notable alteration is the sudden raise of online journalism, equipped with it’s own plausible and detailed history since the ‘outbreak’. Grant has even gone as far as to litter her work with common references to real-life zombie cinematography. I spotted four, but I’m not an all out fanatic. It is fun coming across them, and in no way distracts from the main story.
The book doesn’t really work as a political thriller, but the plot does contain a moderately well-formed conspiracy. It’s better to take it as a satire, emphasising the problems of contemporary journalism, and a hypothesis for the future of blogging and news media. It throws up some interesting ideas relating to its subject matter. The storyline is a fantastic mix of action, well-crafted dialogue, humour, and the necessary amounts of tragedy related to most zombie work. In weaker moments, the plot does get a little predictable, but even so, the results are haunting and beautifully written. Also, this novel contains one of the most harrowing scenes I’ve ever read.
Told through the first-person perspective of Georgia Mason, internet journalist, bringing truth to the people no matter the cost, the story trails a group of ragtag bloggers following a political campaign. We have dare-devil Shaun, the plucky, charismatic brother of Georgia, and their fiction spinning, dreamy friend, Buffy. While they can be a tad stock, each has his or her own drives, and it’s easy to become attached to the characters and associate with what their perils. Again, saddest scene ever. My only real issue came with the forced villain, who resembles something of a crook from the marvel universe only a little downplayed. Character development on the hero’s side is established from the offset, and each individual character melds brilliantly into their world.
I’m not sure it’s a great introduction to the world of zombie fiction, but if you enjoy reading about, or even watching stories regarding the living dead, definitely give this a read. Its got all the great things about the genre, including disturbing scenes and grizzly transformations. I can’t wait to see how the trilogy pans out.