The year 2014 should have been a banner one for humanity with cures for the common cold and cancer hitting the market. But then something went terribly wrong as the two cures worked together to create a virus that turns human beings into zombies, bringing on the zombie apocalypse.
Twenty years later, the world is still dealing with the fallout from the creation of the brain-eating dead and working within the new world order. Professional bloggers and adopted siblings Sean and Georgia Mason are chosen to follow the presidential campaign of a young, rising Senator who hopes to lead the nation and world in the wake of the zombie uprising. With fellow team member Buffy, they hit the campaign trail and slowly become drawn into a vast conspiracy to not only derail their candidates campaign but may also have some frightening implications for the future of the world and humanity.
At close to 600 pages, "Feed" feels like and is an epic first entry in a new zombie trilogy by writer Mira Grant. Unlike many other zombie stories, "Feed" begins twenty years past the zombie uprising, looking at the implications and ramifications the zombie apocalypse had as well as how humanity is coping with day to day life in the new world order. In some ways, "Feed" is reminiscent of "World War Z" by Max Brooks, though I’d argue that "Feed" has a more solid and thought-out world than "World War Z."
In the world of 2034, regular routine blood tests are a norm for those who have yet to exhibit signs of the zombie disease. The novel establishes early that the zombie virus lives dormant inside of everyone either waiting for death or another trigger to set it off and create the brain eating dead. The routines and scientific methods to screen for infection are intriguing and pervasive throughout the story. It could be argued that Grant spends too much time concentrating on the every day scans for zombie infection but since there’s no cure for the disease, it’s easy to see she does.
"Feed" earns its epic running length from a fascinating set of characters and well-explored universe and story. In a future in which the media has been given over to blogging and where the life of the new breed of journalist is driven by your web ranking, Georgia and Shaun Mason are compelling, driven and fascinating protagonists. The story is told from the first-person perspective of Georgia, a woman so driven by the need to find and tell the truth that she rarely has time for many interpersonal relationships beyond the friendship she shares with her adopted brother. When the zombie infection began occurring, it was bloggers who got out the news and helped humanity survived. And that’s a responsibility that Georgia takes very seriously in her work to cover the campaign of the rising Senator.
Georgia isn’t a superhero though. She has her weaknesses and strengths. One weakness is Retinal KA, a side affect of the zombie virus that has damaged her eye-sight requiring that she wear heavy sunglasses or thick contacts in most light sources to prevent migraines and other afflictions.
"Feed" is fascinating, compelling and while it runs for close to 600 pages, the novel never feels long or drawn out. Grant expertly sets up the world within the first 100 pages and then slowly begins to examine the implications of what we’ve learned about her universe over the rest of the novel. She keeps revelations coming at a nice pace to keep readers interesting but also spaced out enough to allow the implications of what we’ve learned to sink in with her characters and readers. And the book does what any good first entry should–leaves you satisfied with the first installment as a reading experience but still wanting to explore more about the characters and universe in the next book.