In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as “Marburg Amberlee”—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.
I’ve seen my fair share of zombie movies, but when it comes to books, I’ve never actually read any zombie-themed stories (although I’m not counting fantasy series with living dead type monsters, I mean proper zombies-in-our-universe). So I don’t have that much to compare this book to besides the movies. One thing though that almost always annoys me in zombie films is that most characters have no idea how to deal with zombies or have never even heard of them. It’s as if they’re in a world where zombie movies don’t exist. Or it’s set in a apocalyptic future where zombies are threatening to take over.
In Feed that’s quite different. It’s set 20 years after a “zombie” outbreak; this is a world where people grew up with zombie movies and have adapted to a different way of living to deal with the outbreak. The zombie virus is dormant in every living person and can get activated when it comes in contact with the live virus (aka the zombies). Besides that it also gets activated if you die. Now think about it: how would this change the world you live in?
Mira Grant takes that idea and fleshes it out. Buildings require blood tests before entering, being a doctor is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and George, Georgina and Georgette are popular kids names (because of George Romero in case you didn’t get why). I loved discovering how this world works; Grant has created an interesting future and I wonder if there was a zombie outbreak how close to the truth this could be.
The story is about a blogger Georgia, who together with her brother Shaun and their friend Buffy, is invited to cover a senator’s presidential campaign. They slowly discover a conspiracy… Yeah, it sounds a bit cheesy, but before I knew it, I got so invested in Georgia’s story. First book in a long time that made me cry and that’s a tough thing to do.
What didn’t completely work for me was how the blogging and online world was explained. In the future every blogger fits a certain category; you have the Newsies, those who write up the news and are objective about it; the Stewarts, those who comment on the news; the Irwins, adventure/action/zombie-antagonizing bloggers; the Fictionals, those who write stories or poetry (including of course fan fiction); and finally the Aunties, recipe/mummy/lifestory bloggers. Then there was the way each blog had ratings and a spot in the uber list of rankings, as if it was more kindred to traditional broadcast media. Also: no mention of Twitter, but I’m guessing this book was written before that hit. It doesn’t diminish the reading experience, but I wished this was a little more similar to reality.
I really enjoyed Feed and I’m now really curious to what else Mira Grant has written (this is her first book as Grant, but she also writes as Seanan McGuire). Feed has a great story, which sucks you completely in. And it’s got a fascinating world to discover along the way.