First in the Newsflesh Trilogy
This is a truly excellent book. I have read a fair few zombie themed novels recently and this is by far the best, perhaps with the exception of World War Z which is about as different as you can get from Feed within the Zombie genre. I was a tad sceptical of the book when it was first recommended I read it, the concept of a novel following presidential campaign bloggers, even with the promise of zombies, didn’t really enthral me. How wrong I was. Feed is a stupendously excellent book. Grant has managed to combine political intrigue and conspiracy with bad-ass zombie killage and phenomenally well written characters to make one stunner of a book. The main characters are incredibly well developed and rather realistic in many ways and the world in which Feed is based has been even BETTER developed and well thought out.
The setting in which the book is based is that of a post-zombie world. Zombies still exist, however the war against them has been primarily successful and most of the world has been reclaimed from the zombies, with a few exceptions such as India and Alaska. The virus arose from medical experimentation and political activism; two ‘miracle cure’ viruses (a cure for cancer and an a cure for the common cold) combine to create a deadly, incredibly infectious virus which sweeps the world and lies dormant within every human on the planet until someone ‘amplifies’ and turns, either due to death or infection by ‘amplified’ fluid. An interesting addition is that the virus can also spread to larger mammals, meaning that society has as much to fear from zombie cows, horses and family dogs as the traditional human aspect. The science behind it is remarkably well thought out, and is majorly built on in the later books, and the governmental response and social consequences are very believable. Although the zombie threat has subsided, the world is still ravaged by fear, with society having receded into itself, conducting most social activity online and surrounding itself with security devices, blood test units every time you wish to enter a room and a world which limits human interaction to a minimum. It is this world into which the story begins.
We are introduced to our main characters: Shawn and Georgia (George) Mason and Georgette (Buffy) Meissonier – a set of three bloggers who have been hired to follow and report on the upcoming presidential campaign. The characters are incredibly loveable, with their own quirks and issues. We have Shawn Mason – the Irwin (a type of blogger named after the Late Steve Irwin and named as such due to their love of poking dangerous things with sticks) who is a slightly reckless adrenalin junkie, who gains his ratings from doing things that no sane human would consider doing. He is loveable, with an excellent and somewhat mocking sense of humour – think a less self-absorbed Tony Stark – and has a temper which he is not afraid to let rip. On top of this he has a very close (some might argue too close) relationship with his adoptive sister George Mason.
George Mason, our narrator, is a Newsie – someone dedicated to reporting the truth at any cost – the premise for the entire book. She is a tomboy, worrying less about being attractive and more about appearing unnerving and serious. She is famed for her simple white shirt and black slacks and her trade-mark dark sunglasses which protect her eyes from strong light due to a medical condition called Retinal Kellis Amberlee (a condition where the virus takes root and ‘amplifies’ in a small part of the body – in this case her eyes) She is far more controlled than her brother Shawn, but is arguably more dangerous when provoked. George and Shawn complete one another to create a fantastic duo who are joined by Buffy Meissonier, the resident ‘fictional’ and techie goddess, who provides the team with continuously functioning and highly epic tech as well as a good amount of fan fiction, poetry and porn (of the written variety) She appears slightly New Age and good natured, while also being idealistic and slightly detached from reality. Her birth name (as with Georgia) originates from George A Romero – who is praised as one of the saviours of humanity due to his surprisingly accurate portrayal of zombies and how they function – go for the brain and all that. Her chosen name originates from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – due to her long blonde hair.
I’ll not ruin the plot for you by going through it – if you want that then wiki it, but it is exceptionally well thought out, with twists and turns which snare you and bring you to the point of forgetting the real world completely. In parts I was genuinely stressed out along with the characters, and did cry several times (which is pathetic I know!) I think it says a lot about the credibility of the scenario and how well thought out the post-apocalyptic world is that this is now my baseline for zombie situations – the characteristics of zombies I take from this book, as well as the dangers of infection (even a tiny amount of aerosolised blood can infect you – so close range gun fire is not recommended) and I can really imagine a post-zombie world turning out the way this one has – maybe it is the sceptic in me! I really cannot recommend this book enough. It is so good I even bought my mum a copy for Christmas! READ IT!
Blogged by Liz 🙂