Feed by M.T. Anderson
Published by Candlewick Press on February 23, 2004
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen, Young Adult
Length: 308 pages Source: Borders
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Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.
I simply cannot express how much I love this book. These are the reasons why:
- It’s a dystopian novel. I have a weak spot for dystopian novels.
- The characters feel real to me. Not an adult trying to write a teenager. I never doubt Titus as a character, never second-guess his motives. Perfectly crafted.
- The language. This is a pitfall for many people, but for me, it just ropes me in closer to the story.
- The questions it asks about technology and our dependence on it. And on instant gratification.
I can see where this novel would be immediately flagged “Evil! STAY AWAY!” for some people, mostly for the reasons I have listed that I love it. In that, it must be understood that not all books appeal to all people. This book has, in my experience, always sparked controversy among its teen readers (see my incredibly biased entry, The Book Bias, for more on exactly how this book has been flagged by real teens), and is therefore a perfect choice for reading in high school. If nothing else, the students will want to discuss how much they hated it… which is the starting point for a wonderful discussion.
But I didn’t hate this book. As I said, I loved it. I have read it multiple times, and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. I love being able to walk away from a book and ask questions about it. I love being so wrapped up in a fictional universe that I’m watching the clock at work not just because I’m excited to get out of there, but because I want to immerse myself in the literary world again. Feed did that for me, and does that every time I read it.
Feed explores not only the dangers of a reliance on technology and instant gratification (those happen to be my favorite topics) but also criticizes the way we are destroying the ecosystem, taking education for granted, the sheep-like nature of the populace to follow the lead of celebrities, the declining rate of general health, overspending, substance use, negligent parenting, and on and on I could go. If there’s a controversial topic you want to touch on, Feed probably has something to say about it. That, I would say, is probably Anderson’s greatest fault in the book – he tried to say a little bit about a lot of things. It makes the book a little overwhelming, if you are reading it closely.
Then again, maybe that’s the point.