Feed by M.T Anderson

18 04 2012

 

Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

 

My experiences with Feed can be described like this:

People told me to read it. They gushed about M.T Anderson’s writing and pointed out that he won a Printz Honor and showed me funny snippets on his website and blog, pointed me towards gushing reviews of the titles from critical sources, simply told me that I had to read this book, had to.

I ignored them. I read many other (great) books. Then I was at the library and spotted Feed in the shelves. The copy looked well worn and well used. I read the back, saw those many critical sources and read the interview with the author at the back, which indeed did show his humor. I took the book home.

I brought the book to school to read, as I often finish books during study halls or assigned reading times. I finished the book in a day during study hall.

And I adored it.

Now, I must admit, I am almost ashamed I didn’t read it. Is Feed perfect? No, it isn’t. But is it chilling and amazing how much of the future Anderson predicted? (Read this article and you’ll see  how good he predicted different technologies and concepts in the novel.) Heck, yes. And is Feed an impressive book? Yes times a million.

Feed in the essence, is a dystopia though it preceded the influx of dystopian titles by many years. (And this book really shows what a good dystopia can be, and what impressive world building can do.) Titus and his friends are wild, crazy, and adventurous, and always up to a trip to the moon (a vacation hotspot). They interact via feeds, social networking tools in their brain that allow them to communicate with one another, buy things, and get news. While on the moon, their feeds get hacked and malfuctioned. And Titus meets a girl — Violet, who is willing to resist the feed, to not buy into the social culture that their society has created. Their feeds get fixed, and soon enough they are back to Earth and continuing on their wild, crazy lifestyles. Titus and Violet begin to fall in love, but as Violet resists more and more, her life falls into danger.

The plot sounds exceedingly simple. We have all seen this before — people resisting and falling in love — in many different contexts. What really raises the plot above, what makes the book into something that can be critically acclaimed and well-loved, is the satire. The book is a satire. And it is hilarious. Anderson makes fun of our society, of how we act and how we believe and what we are interested in. The satire is really awesome.

But besides this satire, which made me laugh in more than one place, there are the questions. In many critical reviews in professional review journals, the reviewer will state something along the lines of “the author raises many questions on love, life, and religion” (substitute the descriptors of the questions being raised to suit your fancy). Anderson raises many questions, about our media culture and our technology and our over saturated world, how we act and believe and what we think is important. These questions make the book very thoughtprovoking. It took me a while to read the book, and it is fairly short, because of all the questions. I had to stop, think and ponder. The questions make the book fascinating. They make you think and wonder and really think about the media culture that is in our world today.

This combination — a mixture of satire and questions — really elevates Feed up to something that is amazing and deserves the many accolades it has recieved.

If I have a qualm on the plot, even with how wonderful and creative it is, my qualm is that I knew what would happen. I predicted the end of the book early on. And I was right. But I didn’t mind turning through 300 pages or so just to get to an ending that I had already guessed, because the questions and the satire made me engaged. I wanted to get to the end so I could keep reading the hilarious jokes and the many raised questions.

The characters are impressive — Titus is strong and smart and his friends — who really can be counted as one person (and I think that’s how they were intended to be) make sense as teenagers in the future. Violet was my favorite, smart and sweet and willing to resist. I worried that she would be an archetype, nothing more than a “rebeling girl”, but she was truly an impressive character and what happened to her broke my heart.

Anderson’s writing is strong and easy to read, injecting the right amount of humor and seriousness needed for the book. He’s a strong writer and I can see why everyone loves his books. I for one am very interested in reading his other books — I’d tried reading them before and given up. But enjoying this book has made me want to read the rest of his books.

Frankly, I loved this book, and if you are like me and have been holding off on Feed, I have two words for you: READ IT!

4.5 stars.

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2 responses

1 05 2012
Flannery (@TheReadventurer)

I agree with basically everything you said here. I listened to it on audiobook and I was blown away by the format. They produced the “feed” into the book by adding advertisements, deals, etc. at certain points and it was just so cool to hear it.

When I first started reading your review, I was so nervous that you were going to say, “everybody told me to read it, and I hated it.” 🙂

1 05 2012
bookbuggy99

Thank you Flannery!
The audiobook sounds really cool. I might have to see if I can find it!
No, not quite, I did really enjoy it. 🙂

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