Zombies have been trendy for awhile, from the more satiric retelling of classics to lots of YA books that take place in a society ravaged by zombies. I know Scott Westerfeld compared high school to a dystopia, but I don't quite think a zombie-apocalypse is the same thing.
And while there are zombies and lots of them, Feed is NOT a zombie book. It's more a political thriller where zombies are the backdrop. This feels fitting to me. By now we know about zombies. They're the undead, they eat brains and they amble around falling apart until someone puts a bullet in their brain. Do we really need to re-hash zombie lore? Feed does explain how the Kellis-Amberlee virus, aka the zombie bug, came into existence, but it doesn't treat the reader like a zombie novice.
Feed follows the story of a group of bloggers selected to follow a presidential campaign. Senator Ryman is a rising star in the Republican party, a veritable Boy Scout in a world where everyone has an angle. The other candidates are caricatures, but sadly believable in a world where the internet is the main avenue of human interactions. There's Kirsten "Knockers" Wagman, a woman with massive breast implants and very little to actually say. I picture her as a thousand different youtubers, using a breast shot to get hits or in this case votes. There's Governor Tate who believes that zombies are a judgement from God and preaches a message of fear.
In a world where people are afraid to leave their home for fear of an outbreak, campaigning is dangerous and sometimes deadly. Following a presidential candidate across the country has no guarantee of safety, as Georgia, Shaun and Buffy find out. But is the danger really from the undead? Or from the political game they've become part of? The zombies are not the villains in this book.
I could probably ramble for awhile about everything I liked about this book. My degree is in journalism. Georgia is a Journalist with a capital J. She's what blogging circles call Newsies but what I call "Exactly how every journalist should be." As the main character she channels all the journalistic greats, digging for the whole truth no matter the cost. She's the legendary fourth estate, keeping the powers-that-be in line not with power, but with truth. Georgia is ethical, fair and a damn good journalist. There was a point in time when I wanted to be just like Georgia (minus zombies & potential death). She's a hero armed with words, not a sword (though she carries a gun. She'd be stupid not too). Sometimes we have an overly simplistic view of female heroines, but Georgia is just as much a hero as Alanna, Hermione, or Katniss, her weapons are just different.
A lot of people underestimate the value of journalism. But a free press is necessary for the political process. Sometimes the press can be stupid and suck, but this book emphasizes how a good journalist by only telling the truth can change the world. (And an aside, trust me this is true. Until the local newspaper filed a freedom of information act request and followed through on a story despite threats, my county has a very very VERY corrupt sheriff. Yes my sheriff was evil)
This book will appeal to many. If you like zombies there's a fair share of blood and brains. If you political you'll enjoy the postulating of the candidate and following the way zombies have changed politics. If you like a mystery (or journalism) you'll want to uncover the truth.
Some people thought this book started slow. Maybe it did but I didn't really noticed. I was enamored from the beginning, fascinated by how the zombie outbreak had changed journalism, then later got caught up in the political campaign. So that's my warning: even with a slow beginning the book is worth it. It's daring, different and I completely loved it.