"Feed" by Mira Grant

"The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we had created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives- - -the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them. "

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What if a powerful virus was released in the air? What if you had to be tested for it every time you tried to walk into a building? Does this sound a little familiar? What if I told you this scenario was written about back in 2010?

In her novel Feed, writer Mira Grant gives readers this very scenario of an airborne, blood transferred virus; something that seems very familiar in today's environment and day-to-day living- - - just minus the zombies.

Grant started out as an urban fantasy writer known as Seanan McGuire, with her first full-length novel being Rosemary and Rue. She received the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as well as many other awards for her work in fiction. There are four books in the Newsflash series (Feed being the first of these).

We meet our main characters, Georgia and Shaun, while they're out in the 'field' filming some zombies for their blog. Shaun is the more careless one, as we witness him poking at zombies with his hockey stick. The two suddenly have to leave when the zombies become a pack. This is where it gets a little strange- - -Georgia explains to the readers that when zombies are in a pack, they become stronger and somehow smarter, but throughout the rest of the book, it's never really explained how this happens.

In this world, blogging and your view count determines your quality of life. Georgia and Shaun have spent years making their blog- - - After the End Times- - - into a popular blog. Every blogger's dream is to be picked to follow the campaign trail of any upcoming politician, and that is exactly what happens to our main characters. Unfortunately, this is when the book turns into a political thriller- - - this happens within the first fifty pages. Zombies end up taking a backseat from here-on-out.

We still get to learn about the virus (Kellis-Amberlee) throughout the book. We're told that any animal that weighs more than 40 pounds is capable of having the virus, and that some people are even born with a dormant-type of the virus inside of them, but this is also never explained in the entire story, at least in book one. Georgia makes it quite clear throughout the novel that she is completely against anyone owning pets that weigh over 40 pounds, but this is due-to her family having lost their younger son to a pet that went viral. This becomes extremely repetitive. Every time that an animal is brought up or seen, Georgia has to retell her stance on owning pets, when once or twice was enough to let the readers know where she stands on the subject.

There are moments of zombie attacks- - - such as after a political rally in a small town where Georgia and her crew are following Senator Ryman on his race to become President, when bodyguards are attacked by a small group of the undead, and Georgia and Shaun become cornered by a few of them- - - these scenes read as if to just keep the zombie trope going, not to actually make the story better. Grant continually repeats herself throughout the book, and because of this, the story didn't have to be as long as it is. Such as with these few zombie attacks, the reader never feels much danger for the characters. And I found that the characters turn out to just not be that likable.

One such character that had potential is Buffy; the backbone of the After the End Times blog. Scenes that were meant to make the reader care for her fell short. Unlike scenes with Georgia and Shaun, including the bond between them, is not felt with Buffy's scenes; she merely seems like a filler character to make certain parts of the story make sense by constantly disappearing and reappearing wherever need be.

Georgia does have an interesting quirk in the book. She harbors the dormant Kellis-Amberlee virus, which has effected her eyes. She can't be in bright lights because they give her blinding headaches, so she wears sunglasses nearly everywhere: " I collapsed onto our bed at the local four-star hotel a little after dawn, my aching eyes already squeezed shut. Shaun was a bit steadier on his feet and he stayed upright long enough to make sure the room's blackout curtains were drawn. "

The technical side of the story - - - the computer world and the electronic usage- - - in Feed is done pretty well. It's like the movie Nightcrawler meets 28 Days Later, but with a lot less zombies. We get to see the seedy underbelly of journalism- - - where bloggers are willing to do anything to get their view count high. Readers also get to witness how life is like living in a world held hostage by a virus - - -something that is very relatable today.

Georgia constantly reminds readers that she doesn't care about other people, and that Shaun is the only person she cares for- - - and, of course, the view count. She continually blames her lack of empathy on their adoptive parents, stating that they only took them in for the their own blog view counts. Oddly after such information, Shaun doesn't seem to be the immature one in the duo.

I haven't read the other three books, one which is a republishing of Feed, but from a different point-of-view. This story was disguised as a horror novel, but just ended up being a political thriller with some zombies thrown in for a much wider reading audience. The book skims over what life would be like after a devastating virus takes over, but focuses on what politics would be like. I can't recommend Feed as a horror novel; the tagline is also misleading: " 'The good news: we survived. The bad news: so did they. " Unless Grant was talking about politicians....

I didn't give the story a low rating because it wasn't exactly a horror book, but instead for these reasons: throughout the story, Grant repeats a lot of information that was explained earlier in the book (and only needed to be explained once); she also had inconsistencies throughout, sometimes even in the very next sentence. Adding things that needed to be explained which weren't, and the afterthoughts that broke up the flow of the story, I just couldn't enjoy it. But, if you like political thrillers, then you might like this one. I won't be continuing this series.

My rating:

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