I get to read a lot of young adult/middle reader books because, well, that’s what my boys read. So I picked up this book called Feed by M.T. Anderson, which is a young adult novel set in a future where everyone’s hooked into a constant feed from, well, somewhere – sort of like Facebook and Amazon on steroids. Imagine getting messages beamed right into your head based on what you just looked at or listened to or bought – like what Amazon does with its book recommendations and many other sites do now when we surf the net. (Buy a pair of sneakers for an eighth grader? Suddenly all the ads at your favorite music site are for shoes from Reebok or whatever…) “TV” programming is beamed directly into the characters’ skulls and instead of drugs, they go “mal”, which seems to be visiting a site that sort of scrambles the feed to a point where you’re disoriented and you seem drugged. Everything is at the tip of one’s…well…mind.
The drama in this one comes when the main character Titus is attracted to a girl (Violet) and Violet has problems with her feed, and because these things are so integrated with the brain, it threatens to kill her. How Titus reacts is a large part of the story, but just the way their world works is just as big. It could be falling apart around them and no one would notice because they’re too distracted by their feeds.
It extrapolates what we’re experiencing today, with political distraction from huge, important issues that have the potential to help all of us, and instead are framed to benefit corporations. I’m enjoying the book, though I think it could be better structured. And it’s a bit confusing, being in Titus’ head for much of the book. He’s a teenager in the future, where the slang, the actions, the terminology, are very different from what today’s slang, actions, and terminology are. And then it’s more confusing because I’m not a teen and I don’t understand some of the stuff from TODAY!
I’m not going to have my 13-year-old read it yet because I think it’s a little above him still. But later, it may contain some important lessons and food for thought.
I’ve also started 68 KILL by Bryan Smith. Can’t say too much about it yet. I like Smith’s other horror offerings. Hoping this one is as good.