Feed - M. T. Anderson

Genre: Dystopia/Young Adult 
Synopsis: 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.


Review: Books like this irritate me, because I end up feeling left out and/or stupid. I just cannot relate to them. Before I write any more, I am pointing out that I gave this book a low mark not because I think it's a bad book, but because it did not work for me. I don't rate books on objective quality. I also realise I am probably taking it far too literally and as such am missing the entire point, but the below is what I felt while reading it.

I read the whole thing, which says something for it, especially considering I can't stand the kind of made-up slang that features in it, or in A Clockwork Orange, or in any book. I've never encountered a book that did it well enough for it to seem natural to me; it simply grates and distracts me from the story. I understand the point of it is to immerse the reader in a different world, and by the end of it have them adapted to slang the way we actually adapt to new slang in the real world. I will admit my own casual use of the slang word 'bae', which started (as these things do) ironically, has turned into borderline sincere use of the word in greeting to a close friend and I hate myself a little bit for it. I do only use it with the one friend who also uses it semi-ironically, so I think there's actually more to be said there on the topic of adapting one's personality to slot into varying company and social situations. As such I don't think the slang thing will ever ring true with me.

There are basically two characters in this novel of relevance, and a third who is underused, and all three fail to capture my interest. Titus, the product of his time, is an impassive guy who goes with the flow and never really questions anything until he meets Violet, a remnant of a time when people used their brains as more than an internet connection. Her role is to occasionally jerk Titus's attention out of its usual hazy stupor and illicit momentary clarity about the state of the world which is, literally, collapsing around them while what's left of the human race is soothed into annihilation by consumerist comforts. This collapse is further exemplified quite literally by the physical degradation of human physiology in the common and aesthetically popular lesions most people are sporting. The third, underused character is Violet's father, who is a prototype Violet who gets through life somewhat more quietly, by trying to avoid letting the feed simplify him.

The general gist of the novel is that people are already pretty susceptible to becoming stupid, and that their descent into total stupidity and blandness is being facilitated by the narcissistic and materialist attitudes espoused via technology and the internet, even to the point of not seeing the world around them collapse. This is not something I can relate to. Sure, I'm addicted to the internet. Sure, I'm a materialist, and I too am surrounded by people who are too fixated on the new Urban Decay palette of extortionately ridiculous cost to think about global warming or corrupt governments - I myself am guilty of both at times. But the one thing I would say about technology and the internet, is that they have facilitated my access to people who do not think like that, in a way nothing else ever could. There will always be people who act the way the people in this novel do, with or without technology, and perhaps there is a cautionary tale about government control and who has the power to censor and control what we see and hear. But to reduce the whole human race to mindless consumers who will willingly lie down and care about nothing, because of technology and convenience, is not something I can relate to. At all. I feel like there might have been a better book in the bases of this one - perhaps exploring the world of Violet's father, on the cusp of becoming this mindless consumerzombie race, while a legion of rebels fight back - but the final product, I think, does not account for the sheer volume of Violets and Violet's Fathers in this world.

Rating: 1/5

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