04 April 2014

Feed by M.T. Anderson

I can't remember where I first heard about M.T. Anderson's Feed; it was quite a while ago, it was on a blog, and the review was positive and intrigued me enough to add it to the wishlist. Now if I was a nicely organized blogger, I would have added the link or at least the blog name where I read about this one, but alas, I am not that on top of things - or at least I wasn't at the point in time.

The plot of this novel revolves around consumerism - specifically media manipulated culture creation. Every person in America has their brain wired in to the "feed." They are constantly bombarded with advertising specific to their preferences; they can chat each other mentally; pretty much everything we can do on a computer they can do in their heads.

On a party trip to the moon, the protagonist, Titus, meets a girl who will change his life, Violet, a latecomer to the wired-in world who can't fully commit to the experience. Titus and Violet, along with other friends of Titus's, are hacked and left, brains empty, for days before the feed can be fixed. Once rewired, Titus and Violet begin a romance continuously marred by Violet's resistance to the feed, its pervasive selling and its control over humanity.

Clearly allegorical of the world we live in, Feed does a decent job of calling attention to the weakness of humanity in the face of media manipulation, and our ability to ignore clear and present dangers due to media distraction and deception. In other words, thematically the book rocks. And I really enjoyed the way Anderson used language to reveal large scale personality shifts and intellectual loss to the American people. The diction, vocabulary, syntax, sentence structure, etc. are made obviously simplistic to mimic the loss of intelligence. Characters speak in questions rather than declarative statements to suggest the loss of confidence in thought. It was quite nicely done.

In the end though, the book could just not quite grab me, and I ended up feeling rather indifferent to the story. Not enough happens, no character really changes, and the ending was remarkably flat for me. So, while artfully constructed and thematically significant, Feed ended up being just okay for me due to a lack of interest in the plot and relation to the characters.

15 comments:

  1. Great review! I agree, the themes and idea sound fascinating to explore. I was just thinking about that confidence in thought you mention, when kids in class often add 'like' and 'kind of to' phrases to opinions, not necessarily out of habit.

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    1. "like" and "kind of" are definitely phrases that jump out at me too

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  2. It has been awhile but I remember loving this one on audio. I remember it being very clever. Hmmm. I'll have to go back and read my review...

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    1. I can definitely see this one being pretty awesome on audio (especially if done really well and creatively with the feed sections).

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  3. Maybe it was my review, Trish: http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/feed-by-m-t-anderson/ Sorry it wasn't as good as you hoped.

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    1. Definitely a possibility! I do wonder if my expectations were too high....

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  4. I haven't seen this book reviewed before. The premise does indeed rock. So sorry the execution fell flat for you.

    Upon reading about the plot I was reminded of Lenore's Level 2 (Memory of After) and how they were kept busy and distracted and preoccupied with reliving memories to realize what was going on around them. While they are dissimilar in many ways, the whole "plugging in" thing made me think of that book.

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    1. That sounds like an interesting book. I am rather intrigued by the concept of distraction as a method of public control.

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  5. Sorry this one fell flat. It's one of my fave books to teach because it's amazing to probe some of the issues: environmental, commercial, consumerism, etc. I find that students find an easy "way in" even though many of them detest the characters. Those iffy books can make the best, most passionate discussion. :)

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  6. I bought this book for my classroom library, thinking my high school students would like it. So far not many have even attempted it, but I may give it a try soon. I like the idea of Feed, even if the execution sounds less than stellar.

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    1. I would think that younger readers would like this one's style. I may have to pawn off my copy on one of my students to test that theory.

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  7. Okay this sounds like a book to pass up. The premise sounds interesting but no one wants to leave a book feeling indifferent about it. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I don't know that I would take my word for it as so many bloggers seemed to love this one.

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  8. I love the concept of this book - too bad it wasn't better executed.

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