Feed (Newsflesh: Book 1) by Mira Grant
608 pages, Orbit, May 2010
This one’s been recommended to me for heaven’s knows how long, but I actually ended up reading it by mistake. No! True facts!
Heather and I wanted to do a readalong. (And we’re still planning on doing one, if I don’t Keystone Kops my way through the next one.) She sent me a list of books she hadn’t read; I said, “Ooh! I’ve been wanting to read Feed!” so we both got it and started reading and she sent me the first email about it and I was all, “Oh, I AM SO EXCITED, wait, what the…this didn’t happen…” and I realized she’d been reading M.T. Anderson’s Feed and I’d been reading Mira Grant’s Feed and I felt like SUCH AN ASS because it CLEARLY STATED on her list which Feed she was going to read but apparently I had my mind on this one because I’d been wanting to read it. But, since Heather is the best, she didn’t get upset. She laughed and laughed. Which is just one small part of the reasons I love her, and also, whew!
And listen, before you get all up-in-arms, people who’ve read this…I know, it’s not really horror. But it’s not really a political thriller, either, or solely action-adventure, or sci-fi. Dystopian future fiction, maybe, but is that even a genre? (And if it’s not, shouldn’t it be by now?) I didn’t know how else to categorize it, so I stuck it in horror, but it’s really so much more.
George and Shaun, siblings and bloggers in a future overrun by zombies (George is short for Georgia, and she is amazing, and I love her to bits) and their fellow blogger, Buffy (just a nickname, but she’s blonde and kicks ass – wonder where she got THAT moniker?) run a news blog that’s got decent readership (newspapers are all but dead, and bloggers are the new journalists.) They are chosen by one of the frontrunning candidates for president to cover his campaign, and their site (and popularity) blows up. They travel with Senator Ryman on the campaign trail and things start to get newsworthy – and if you’ve watched or read anything about journalists following a big story, you know their lives aren’t always safe.
I don’t want to say another word, plot-wise. I don’t want to spoil this for you.
Here are things I’ll tell you:
- George and Shaun’s bond is amazing, I adore them both, and I felt like I knew them about ten chapters in. I wanted to spend time with them. I thought about them when I wasn’t reading. Grant has a beautiful way with characterization, and her characters were fully three-dimensional – and this included the fact that she wasn’t afraid to let them screw up, fail, or do things that made them less than perfect. And I LOVE that in a character.
- Grant’s world-building in this book was fantastic. It wasn’t cookie-cutter zombie fiction. She made it her own. There are things that are changed from the canon just enough to make it believable, but not so much that you roll your eyes (I’m looking at you, Twilight, and your sparkly vampires. Although, let me say, deviating from the canon a lot, when done well, is not a bad thing. Warm Bodies deviates from the zombie canon a HELL of a lot, and I adored that. I guess it’s just a matter of how good of a writer you are.)
- I loved the political plot. You may not know this about me, but behind-the-scenes political things fascinate me. I think I was a campaign manager in another life or something. I loved seeing how the campaign worked, how the press navigated it, everything you don’t normally see as a normal citizen seeing the campaign from the front end.
- There were three different points where I cried. None of these were little-weepy cries. All three of these were I AM WEEPING cries. One of them, I’m going to admit to you, was one where a bit of a wail came out. I get a little misty at books, when they’re done well, but it’s not often they make me make sobbing out-of-control NOISES. Well-played, Grant, well-played.
There are two more books in the series – I’ve heard they’re not as strong, but I’ll still read them. I want to know more about this world, and these people, and what happens next. I’m hooked. (Although, can we slap my library website on the wrist? I went to reserve Book 2, and Book 3 popped up by accident. Before I could click away, I saw the BIGGEST SPOILER EVER in the one-sentence description for Book 3. Like, one I can’t bounce back from. One that’s going to color my reading of Book 2. Thanks a lot, library.)
Just when I think there’s a glut of a certain thing in the market (zombie books, for example) I manage to be pleasantly surprised (and blindsided by tears tears OMG ALL THE TEARS) by something wonderful. I love when that happens. Highly recommend this one if you like politics, dystopian fiction, zombies, strong sibling bonds, excellent characters, action-adventure, or just damn fine books that’ll keep you up nights wanting to know what happens next.