Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book review: Feed by Mira Grant

I just finished Feed by Mira Grant ... and ooh, did I like it!  In the year 2014, researchers cured the common cold by developing a virus to combat the cold virus.  They cured cancer the same way, by developing a new virus.  Unfortunately, someone got the brilliant idea to spread these two miracle cures wholesale across the globe - and when that happened, the two viruses mutated, infected everyone on the planet and everything on the planet, and brought the recently dead back to life, thus ushering in the zombie apocalypse.  Twenty-six years later, the world is still up and running, only having lost around 13% of the global population outright, with uber-strict quarantine and security controls in place.  But there is food and power and civilization - in fact, the U.S. is gearing up for its latest presidential election.

Sibling blogger-reporters, Georgia and Shaun Mason, have just landed a plum assignment: press corps to the front-running Republican candidate, Senator Peter Ryman from Wisconsin, a young and hip enough politician to realize that he must attract young voters and young voters get their news online.  The Masons know that this is their ticket to sky-high ratings and they have the skill and experience to do the job right: George, who administers their site, is a "Newsie," all about the facts; her brother Shaun is one of the world's top "Irwins," the adventure-loving vloggers who like nothing more than to find something dead and poke it with a stick (a la Steve Irwin); and rounding out their team is Buffy Meissonier, an extremely talented techie and purple-poetry writing "Fictional."  This team is exactly who Ryman wants on his side.  But as the campaign wears on, and strange zombie outbreaks keep popping up around the Ryman camp, George and Shaun uncover a conspiracy that they never imagined.

I thought Feed was fantastic: smart, funny, sarcastic, well-plotted, fast-paced and not repulsively gruesome for a zombie book.  Author Grant has clearly done a ton of research, into online news media, political campaigns, virology and, most importantly, how to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse.  The world she has crafted has plenty of callbacks to current zombie canon as well as some clever new inventions.  In George and Shaun's world, George Romero is a national hero; like many other girls of her generation, Georgia was named after him.  Like The Walking Dead, SPOILER everyone on the planet carries the infection and so everyone who dies rises back up a zombie, unless they get eaten or get their brains crunched first.  Unlike TWD, however, there are zombie animals - horses, dogs, giraffes, anything larger than 40 lbs. - so people are pretty much vegetarians since (1) cows are too dangerous to raise anymore and (2) who wants to eat steak swarming with unamplified viruses?

I don't want to give up any more of the book's secrets since it's so much fun.  The characters ring true, the dialogue is well done.  There is humor and outrage and heartbreak.  And zombies - don't let's forget the zombies.  Feed is the first volume of a trilogy: Deadline is the second and I can't wait to start in on it.

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