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Monday, June 7, 2010

'Feed' Newflesh Trilogy #1 by Mira GRANT

Received from the publisher

From the BLURB:

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we 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.

Zombies are the new vampires. These lumbering, moaning, flesh-eaters have taken over the paranormal genre and spread like wildfire throughout book stores. It all started with Seth Grahame-Smith and his ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ book, which spawned copy-cats like Steve Hockensmith and Co. But even before the shuffling undead overtook the literary world, films like ‘21 Days’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’; ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Zombieland’ cemented the living dead in our collective popular conscience.

My reading habits have been fairly untouched by Zombie’s. The closest I've gotten to a ‘Zombie’ book is Carrie Ryan’s ‘The Forest of Hands and Teeth’ and ‘The Dead-Tossed Waves’, which handles the post-apocalypse Zombie-riddled world with more YA literary aplomb than the ‘gore and guts’ traditionally associated with the walking dead.

Mira Grant’s first novel in her ‘Newsflesh’ trilogy is ‘Feed’ and marks my first real foray into a traditional Zombie gore-fest.... and I *LOVED* it.

The year is 2039; the day of reckoning has come and gone and Zombie’s live amongst us. A virus called ‘Kellis-Amberlee’ went viral 25 years ago, infecting humans and animals and reanimating them after death to turn into ravenous beasts. Humans have picked their way out of the rubble of the ‘post-Rising’ and continued on in a functioning society, albeit a very different society than we are used to. In this new world order bloggers rule – a by-product of unreliable and stagnating news reports when the KA virus broke, people turned to bloggers for their updates and have held them in esteem ever since.

‘Feed’ is the story of a brother-sister blogging team. Georgia ‘George’ Mason is a ‘Newsie’ blogger – trying to dilute spin and opinion to just deliver the facts. Shaun Mason is an ‘Irwin’; a thrill-seeker who gains ratings by searching for Zombie’s and poking them with a stick.
George and Shaun have reached such acclaim in the blogger community that they have been invited to cover a US Presidential campaign and follow Senator Ryman’s trail.

This is a blogging honour – an enviable position for any budding Newsie and a career-defining moment for both George and Shaun.
But their hopes for blogging glory are soon shattered when the campaign trail leads them to dangerous discoveries. The KA virus breaks out wherever they go and soon George and Shaun are uncovering sabotage and terrorism of epic proportions. They’ll be lucky if they make it to the elections in one piece.

Mira Grant is a pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, who has an Urban Fantasy series called ‘October Daye’. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading that series, then you know you’re in good hands....

I loved ‘Feed’. I popped my ‘gore-fest’ Zombie cherry and I couldn’t have been happier that Mira Grant was my first time.

I love the fact that Mira Grant has set her Zombie book in the aftermath. Her series is set in the ‘post-Rising’, when the Zombie plague has come and destroyed and humans have had 25 years to pick up the pieces and glue together some semblance of a normal life. Where most Zombie movies kick-off at the point of contamination and explore the first few days of an outbreak, ‘Feed’ allows Grant to write a much more nuanced world. It’s interesting to read Grant’s interpretations and assumptions about the ‘after’ of a post-Apocalyptic event. She explores little things like people’s resurgence in faith and their attending ‘nonvirtual’ church on Sundays. She’s nutted out ways in which people would check for infection, de-contamination devices used in the home as everyday appliances. And then there’s the real over-arching investigation into the disintegration of ‘news’ and the glorification of ‘blogging’. All very fascinating, and the type of world-building you wouldn’t normally get from a Zombie book in which the story picks up at the point of infection. It means the beginning of ‘Feed’ is a little slow as Grant explains this world she has created, but it’s interesting enough that you don’t notice the somewhat sluggish pace.

And besides, once Mira Grant kicks things into high-gear you almost wish you could go back to that languid beginning. Because once Grant puts the pedal-to-the-metal she does not let up. As the action and pace pick up Grant takes you on a full-throttle joy ride through Zombie territory, political espionage and gut-wrenching family drama. It’s fantastic, to say the least.

Seanan McGuire aka ‘Mira Grant’ is extremely gifted when it comes to world-building and characterization. That’s true of her ‘October Daye’ series, and she brings those talents to this very different Zombie book.
George and Shaun Mason are wonderful. George is our narrator, but she’s so close to her brother that both of them share the book’s spotlight. They are both A-grade protagonists, and for very different likability reasons.
George is a ‘Newsie’ and therefore a little more inconspicuous, stoic and hard-boiled. But she has a wry sense of humour that shines in her narration and makes her endearing in a Hunter S. Thompson ‘prickly’ sort of way;

Kellis-Amberlee may be unique in the way it interacts with the human body, but it behaves just like every other communicable disease known to man in at least one way: Put it on a school campus and it spreads like wildfire.

Shaun, is a thrill-seeking man-boy who could have grated for his sometimes immaturity, but comes across as charismatic and impish and impossible not to like;

Shaun turned toward me as he dismounted, grinning from ear to ear. The wind had raked his hair into a series of irregular spikes and snarls, making him look like he’d been possessed. “That,” he said, with almost religious fervour, “was the coolest thing you have ever done. In fact, that may have been the coolest thing you ever will do. Your entire existence has been moving toward one shining moment, George, and that was the moment when you thought ‘Hey, why don’t I just go *over* the zombies?’” He paused for effect. “You are possibly cooler than God.”

Together Shaun and George really complement one another to become a formidable protagonist-team.

I loved Mira Grant’s many ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ references and mini-tributes. Like calling those intrepid Zombie explorers ‘Irwins’; in a hat-tip to the dearly departed Steve Irwin. Or George and Shaun’s best friend, Georgette Meissonier who nick-named herself ‘Buffy’ in deference to a ‘pre-Rising TV show’ since Georgette is ‘cute, blonde and living in a world full of zombies’. Or even Shaun’s name, which I assume is a nod to the classic spoof film ‘Shaun of the Dead’. All of these little references I loved for their cleverness and the pure joy of picking them out.

This book is a spectacular Zombie-romp. But to call it a ‘Zombie’ book is too simplistic. It’s more a post-Apocalyptic political thriller with Zombie’s in the background. Seanan McGuire, aka ‘Mira Grant’ is a deft hand at world-building and characterization, and she is in her writing element in this living undead disaster-filled universe.

I loved ‘Feed’ and I cannot wait for the next two books in the ‘Newsflesh Trilogy’ – titled ‘Deadline’ and ‘Blackout’.

5/5

4 comments:

  1. I almost bought this one the other day! I didnt know it was seanan McGuire! LOL I love her October Day series!!

    You gotta check out Deadtown by Nancy Holzner!

    Im not big into zombies, but its a great read!!!

    Great review!

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  2. This book is somewhere on top of my tbr list. Now I just need to find a get rich quick scheme so I can buy my way to it.

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  3. This book sounds excellent- I harbor a secret love for zombie novels and will definitely have to pick this one up at some point.

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  4. Picked this up a few days ago. Finished it today. The second book is out if you haven't noticed but I probably won't be able to start reading till I get over how this ended *sniff*

    Which won't be in a long while *sniff* And from the bits I spoiled myself with, it probably will make me sniffle more *sniff*

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