Book Review: Feed by M. T. Anderson


Feed by M. T. Anderson

Titus is an average American Dudebro. He goes to SchoolTM and hangs with his buddies Marty, Link & Quendy. They went to the Moon–which totally sucks LAME-O.  He meets a girl Violet, and then they get their brains hacked.

Feed

Feed by MT Anderson

M.T. Anderson’s Feed, is one of those excellent science fiction novels which manages to get more accurate and relevant as it ages. Even as some sci-fi spins tales of vacuum tube filled starships, and virtual reality hackers walking past banks of payphones; Feed manages to rise above that.  It manages that rare quality—timelessness. And that scares me.

Why the fear?
Feed is not a nice world, and its rapid approach to my own, makes me uneasy. It is a cautionary tale before we even understood the danger.  In 2002 when Feed was published, Facebook was over two years from being created.  Twitter was still four years away.  Yet in its slang, and pulse pulse pulse like tone, Anderson encapsulates the feeling of a boy raise with an omnipresent newsfeed. The Feed just IS.

Feed is a dystrophic tale of a media blasted American cultures cape with dead forests, leveled mountains, and everything reduced to bite-sized chunks of infotainment.  Corporate thought monitoring is the reality. Your value as a set of consumer demographic preferences is more important than your life.  Ever present banner ads beam into your head 24/7 by the ubiquitous FEED.
Privacy is dead.

The dialogue is fragmented and slangish in the vein of Clockwork Orange, but much gentler in introduction.  The reader feels pulled in to this world rather than excluded.  As a caveat the language is also decently foul-mouthed, such that I wouldn’t suggest it at bellow high school level.

The book opens with Titus and friends on the Moon.  A dingy tourist trap–regarded with a feeling of exasperated eye rolling that manages to world build the Feed-verse and also encapsulates the teenage milieu of shark like hungry contempt. Our protagonists are shallow and vapid, but we don’t hate them, they are perhaps to be pitied.

Our Audience Surrogate comes in the form of Violet, a homeschooled teen who meets Titus on the Moon.  Violet, unlike the others, got her Feed implant much later in life and thus provides an excellent window into this world. She is however; far more fleshed out than your typical Naïve Newcomer and thus her eventual romance feels natural.

Complications ensue with the Feed, in the aftermath of the hacker attack. Violet and Titus must deal with them even as their friendship grows. Consequences emerge that will change things for them forever, leaving the question of: What Now?

It would be easy to think of this as an anti-technology jeremiad, but Anderson deftly weaves social commentary into the background and lets the relationship between Titus and Violet stand center stage. You care for these kids, and while the story isn’t a happy one, the experience of it leaves you richer.
This is a brave new world; Anderson leaves us to decide what is the cost.

Info:

  • Ttle: Feed
  • Author: M T Anderson
  • Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2002
  • ISBN-10: 0763617261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763617264
  • Summary:     In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.

Awards:

National Book Award Finalist
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner
New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards – Honor Book
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
Chicago Public Library Best Books for Children and Teens
ALA (American Library Association) Best Books for Young Adults
Junior Library Guild Selection
Volunteer State Book Award Master List (Tennessee)
Riverbank Review Children’s Books of Distinction
Book Sense 76 Top 10 Picks
Horn Book Fanfare
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books – Bulletin Blue Ribbons
Booklist Editors’ Choice