Author: MT Anderson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: 2004
Length: 308 pages
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Purchased on my Nook
“We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away.” — MT Anderson, Feed
According to MT Anderson, the future is pretty grim. But on the surface, it looks awesome. In Feed, everyone had a feed hooked up directly to the brain. Installed pretty much at birth, users have access to information, chat, music, and TV shows. They are also constantly bombarded with advertisements and are encourage to shop directly from the feed. When Titus and his friends visit the moon for some anti-grav fun, he meets an intriguing girl named Violet…and the whole crew meets a hacker who malfunctions their feeds. Titus recovers, but Violet does not.
Feed is dystopian, but instead of focusing on government it focuses on the oppression by capitalism and consumerism. I honestly was not expecting the book to be as incredibly dark as it was. The United States is completely crumbling, but no one seems to notice or care because the feed is too entertaining. The characters, including Titus, are fairly vapid in their daily concerns. You think text-speak sounds bad? MT Anderson’s vision for the future of the English language is pretty grim, too. The slang, the syntax, and the minuscule vocabularies of these characters didn’t leave me feeling optimistic, to say the least. Yes, it’s fiction. But ten years have passed since the release of the book…ten smart phone-filled, Googliscious years that have brought us closer the Feed‘s vision of the future.
This may be a spoiler, but I also want to point out that the story shares many similarities with books about cancer. In this vision of the future, hacking one’s feed is essentially attacking the victim’s brain and body functions, too. Depending on the person and his/her situation, hacking can result in the long-term deterioration of the body and mind. And for the “healthy” characters in the story, the negative effects of the environment have left them with terrible, oozing lesions. The whole thing made me want to put my computer away, go outside, and read a book in the fresh air.
FINAL GRADE: B+ How long has this been on my TBR list? I don’t want to talk about it. Too long. It wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, but it was definitely worth reading. I have MAD respect for MT Anderson for writing this book, and I need to look into reading more of his books. He executes the story perfectly, never assuming that teens are too young/immature to understand the society in which they live. To me, this book is the perfect example of YA books that are well written, accessible, and thought-provoking.
REQUIRED READING: Required for anyone who wants to shake a fist at consumerism and our society’s overindulgence in technology. Required for all high school teachers.
LIBRARY RECOMMENDATION: Buy it for middle or high school. Middle schoolers may not “get” it…but they might. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I can see the book going over well in an 8th grade class, for sure.
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