Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feed by Mira Grant parts 1 and 2 - readalong

Text reads, "To Alice & Josh" and "Rise up while you can."
I read Feed when it first came out in the summer of 2010. When the group started talking about horror for a February readalong, though, the idea of a reread held a lot of appeal. After all, I had appreciated the book when it first came out. But, having read another book in the trilogy, and with the anticipation of the third coming out in June, I wanted to refresh my memory and see if anything changed the second time around.

It did, indeed. However, I will be avoiding discussion of the early foreshadowing I'm noticing, for the sake of not spoiling anything for the rest of the readalong crew.

I do want to discuss the pacing of the book. I didn't remember it starting off slow, but, now that I'm rereading it, I do notice that the building of tension is subtle, and what's meant to grab the reader initially is the concept rather than the plot or characters. Georgia Mason (George), the narrator, keeps her sense of humor limited to wry observations about the world. She's writing for posterity, so everything she writes is cited by historical context, much like those found in newspaper stories or online news sites.

In retrospect, I do remember saying that it felt like the first two-thirds of the book were like being cranked up to the top of a roller coaster.

I'm much better able to appreciate the pop culture references throughout the text now, having read several interviews which confirmed my suspicions. In addition to the obvious George Romero references (and the director's fate, after passing along peacefully in his sleep), we have characters named after Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the title character in Shaun of the Dead. I know Shaun isn't described as anything like that Shaun, but I still picture Simon Pegg in the role.

I didn't catch the reference to Steve Irwin (of "Crocodile Hunter") fame until someone pointed it out to me, though I did know that Stewarts, the Newsies who put a humorous spin on the facts, were an homage to The Daily Show. George also skewers several modern political and pop culture artifacts (or rather, things that are artifacts to her), including reality shows, the death penalty, and partisanship which suggests you're one the zombies' side if you don't take ridiculous measures to get rid of them.

What I'm really appreciating in my second read-through, though, is the allegory. This is a story about a world driven by fear. Just because people are right to fear zombies doesn't mean the hypervigilance has created a better society. People are afraid to gather in groups or leave the house. Meanwhile, the political landscape had changed, because it makes no sense to let people starve to death when they'll reanimate to munch on their neighbors. What separates the haves from the have-nots is how much security they can afford to fend off the zombies.

The worldbuilding and crunchiness of the science is even more impressive the second time around. I'm glad I'm getting the chance to explore this post-zombie world all over again.

More readalong posts:
Grace at Feeding My Book Addiction
Jennifer at Book Den
Britt at Self-Styled Bibliophile

Part 2 of the readalong is here.


  1. I didn't make the connection with either Irwins or Stewarts until reading this, and felt I deserved a smack on the head for both.

    Speaking of Simon Pegg, I believe you also follow The Bloggess on Twitter. I love her recent obsession with him.

    1. I do, indeed. I was most amused, especially when it started trending worldwide.

      There's a LOT of pop culture crammed into this book, and not all of it's obvious. Apparently there's a page on TV Tropes that outlines all of them, but I'm wary of getting sucked into the ultimate time sink.

    2. I am the originator of the Newsflesh TV Tropes page, which goes to show you how carefully and devotedly I read the series.

      So yes, there are a lot of references, and I only get some of them because Grant and I do not have 100% overlap in our fandoms.

    3. I thought you were, but I didn't want to out you if I was mistaken. Good work! It's really thorough.

    4. Thank you. I took notes on my first read through. Nice thing about having a Nook.

    5. That still has to take a lot of concentration, to be able to read and enjoy and still stop to make note of references as you're going through. That's way more work than I ever put into reading something.

  2. I love the pop culture references. It's funny how all of the names didn't snap into place for me until I saw the name "Barbara". :D

    This sounds like a great reread with the last book coming out.

    1. It is, indeed. The hard part is not accidentally spoilering people, which is why I'm reading slower than I normally would on a reread. I have to make sure something I thought happened this book really did, and not in book 2 or the preview for book 3.

      There are definitely hints of things to come, but I have to keep from highlighting them, in case anyone wants to read more.