January 12, 2013

Book review: Feed by M. T. Anderson

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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.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Feed started with a bang. I loved the world it took place in, the way the characters talked, what they did, and how they thought. It was a dystopian world that I could really get into. Without hammering it into our heads, the author showed us a world that we could realistically live in one day if we continue on the path we're on now. I thought it was almost prescient that a book published in 2002 predicted how wired our lives are and also how digital advertising tries to target every consumer in cyberspace.

Then, about halfway through, the author lost his way. The narrator started talking like a normal person, not the futuristic, shallow, Feed-controlled teen he was at the beginning of the book. Maybe the author was trying to show his character developing into a "normal" person? If so, it didn't quite work for me.

Feed tries to be a satire in the vain of A Brave New World or 1984, but in the second half of the book, I found the message to be too preachy. The interactions between Titus and Violet lost their charm, and their conversations sounded more like lessons than a story.

Taken separately, I'd give the first half of the book 5 stars and the second half 3 stars, for an average of 4 stars overall.

Note: there's a good deal of profanity in this book. Don't read it if you're easily offended by the s-word and f-word.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell.

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