At first, Mira Grant's zombie novel might seem an ironic choice for my Royal Wedding day reading, however it ended up somehow completely relevant. Not that Will and Kate's big day was interrupted by the flesh-eating undead, more that if you'd popped onto Twitter this morning, everyone was talking about The Wedding.
Zombies aside, Feed is a commentary on the changing world of reporting. Yes, most of those tweeters were tuning in second hand via the BBC, but it just goes to show how effective the internet has become in delivering news and opinions.
I'd had the book at least a week before it dawned on me that the cover had the RSS symbol on it and Feed wasn't just about zombie appetites. I'm not big on researching books before I read them, I like to dive in sight unseen and without preconceptions. It was big on Goodreads last year (scooping up the Science Fiction category in the end of year awards) and it had zombies in it. That was enough for it to go on my wishlist.
The story starts with a man poking a zombie with a stick...
The main characters are bloggers in a world where people have lost faith in corporate news. If the big fish told everyone the schools were safe just before your children got infected whilst the blogosphere was alerting people to the true threat, who would you trust?
The plot follows the blogging team as they join a senator on his presidential campaign. Whilst the politics have been amended to fit the international zombie crisis, they can easily be applied to current affairs. Feed raises some very topical questions such as, which is more important, freedom or safety?
The presence of zombies does tend to place this book in the horror genre, but its themes put it firmly in the science fiction camp. What's scary is not really the zombies, but what humankind is capable of and when characters die, it's not about gore but about loss. It's overall much more thought-provoking and moving than horror ever is.
If you were avoiding this book because of the zombies don't. It's for anyone interested in the changing face of journalism and the rise of social media. The zombies just accelerated the process...