So I said in my post about what reading rules you would break that I was reading a book about zombies. Well, I finished it and literally 5 minutes later, I bought and was engrossed in the second in the series, so it’s safe to say that I liked it.
Feed, by Mira Grant (Orbit 2010), is actually more of a political thriller than a post-apocalyptic story – think “All the King’s Men” meets “Dawn of the Dead”. It’s been 25 years since a virus that cures the common cold was released into the populous before it was fully tested. When it met another virus that was intended to cure cancer, they combined to form Kellis-Amberlee, an infection that brings the dead back to life and the living into zombies. And since it was built on the cold virus, everyone has the dormant phase. On the plus side, no more colds or cancer. On the negative, we now have a world where folks mostly hide in their homes and have to take blood tests everywhere they go to make sure they aren’t infected.
In this future world, bloggers have a lot more respect and power. When the infection first started effecting people, the governments and medical professionals hid the truth. It was a doctor at the CDC who used his 8 year old’s blog to spread the word. Bloggers picked up the story and blasted the story to the world, including the realization that George Romero’s films actually had it correct (he is an international hero). There are Stewarts – newsies who try to find the truth in new stories (named for Jon Stewart), Irwins – bloggers who like to go poke zombies with sticks and film the results (named for Steve Irwin), and Fictionals – poets and authors who post about the world they live in.
The store revolves around a group of 3 b-level bloggers – Georgia, Shaun and Buffy, who chose her name because “I live in a world filled with zombies – what else should I call myself?”. They are picked to follow the presidential campaign of a very popular senator, though things quickly become complicated when someone tries to assassinate the senator. What follows is an intense, exciting thriller with some heart-breaking moments and true seat-of-your-pants action. Grant’s writing is so sharp and her story so compelling, I finished the book in just a few hours.
The best thing about these books is the huge amount of thought that Grant has put into this fictional future. Every aspect of the world, including in-depth science behind the virus that causes zombies, is fleshed out and makes this future seem terrifyingly real. Here’s an example: the virus can amplify in any mammal over 40lbs. Which means that zombie cows, deer and dogs are a reality, so no more red meat and no more man’s best friend in the house.
This book is not for the faint of heart – I’ve been having zombie-tinged dreams for a week now – and Grant isn’t afraid to kill off characters. She Jossed me several times in the books and I’m not gonna lie, there may have been tears. But the writing and story are so sharp, it was worth the pain.
Hey, it didn’t hurt as bad as a zombie bite. Shoot ’em in the head!