Sometimes a book just makes you want to blog.
This isn’t the first time I’ve read Feed, and it won’t be the last. By Mira Grant, (A.K.A. Seanan McGuire) Feed is the first book in the Newsflesh series, centering on a team of news bloggers in the post-zombie apocalypse United States of America. The world is believable, the characters are enthralling, the plot is great, the action is exciting, and the ending makes me cry every time.
As if all this weren’t fantastic enough, there are puns everywhere. You know how I feel about puns.
I’m not going to spend a long time regurgitating the plot. I hated writing summaries in college, and now I don’t have to do it any more! Instead, I’m going to talk about the part of the book I like best.
Georgia Mason. We spend Feed in her head, a direct uplink, if you will. She is matter-of-fact, competent, opinionated, self-aware, and relentless in the pursuit of the truth. Or the facts, though for her they are mostly interchangeable. She’s obsessed with finding the truth and putting it online, running a miniaturized news organization with an ear cuff cell phone, mp3 recorder, and a PDA. The main interests of her life besides the news are Coca-Cola and her brother Shaun. Ah, Georgia and Shaun. Attached to each other utterly, to the exclusion of any other human beings in the world. Georgia and Shaun are adopted siblings, with no genetic relationship. They grew up in the spotlight as their parents attempted to prove that they could in fact raise children as if there weren’t zombies after losing their only biological child during the Rising. (The zombie apocalypse, for those of us who just like typing it out.)
Georgia has dark hair, Shaun has light. Georgia wears black all the time because she can’t be bothered to dress herself, Shaun is stylish. Georgia is stern and acerbic, Shaun is exuberant. Georgia doesn’t like to touch people besides Shaun, Shaun does the hugging for her. Shaun throws himself at zombies, Georgia throws herself into rescuing him. They are symbiotic in just about every way. There are no cracks in the armor of their devotion. Their only weaknesses, respectively, are each other. It would be strange and off-putting if it weren’t written so well.
The experience of being in Georgia’s head is a fascinating exercise. The narrative is interspersed with excerpts from their public blogs, but she seems to be narrating as though she’s aware of her audience. Force of habit, perhaps. There are always cameras on her, why not even in her own head? She has some blind spots, and though most of the time she’s aware of them, sometimes she’s not.
It’s people that give Georgia the most trouble. Complicated, emotional people with layered motivations. She behaves as though she understands them, but her explanations for the behavior of those around her are often over-simplified. Her friends are largely unaware of how important to her they are, because she is largely unaware of how important to her they are. Shaun is the sun at center of her solar system, and everyone else just orbits in the dark. I’d be tempted to say “that’s not healthy,” but one of the core tenets of the Newsflesh books are that in the wake of the Rising, our own standards of health, safety, and even humanity rarely apply.
That’s the thing about Feed. It’s set in an internally consistent world, its main characters are consistent and trustworthy even when they’re unreliable. (Even Georgia, with her devotion to the truth, isn’t telling us everything.) I’m in the middle of rereading the sequel right now, written from Shaun’s point of view, and we learn more about them from inside his mind as well. Everything I learn just makes me want to know more.
These books have zombies, the news, politics, epidemiology, technology, discourses on different kinds of writing and why it matters, pop-culture references that have me laughing out loud, massive government conspiracies, and miniature epileptic bulldogs. But at the heart of it, these books are a love story between two people that trust each other completely, wholeheartedly, and with a fierceness that most of us in this world really are never going to experience. And that, my friends, is what good fiction does best. Makes us feel things and see things that we would never know otherwise.
June 1st, and the next book in the series, can’t come soon enough for me.