Feed is M.T. Anderson’s absolutely wonderful YA dystopian novel about a world where almost everybody has supercomputers planted into their brain, and thus is subject to 24/7 information, shopping, chatting and a veritable advertisement blitzkrieg. The novel focuses on Titus and his friends who, on a trip to the moon, meet a strange girl named Violet and end up getting touched by a hacker, which breaks their ‘feeds’, their name for the stream of information that is always incoming. Titus and his friends are fixed relatively easily, but because Violet had her feed implanted later than all the others, her feed isn’t as easily fixed and begins to break down more and more. The worst thing about this, however, is the fact that the feed is also tied to every singly bodily function, so as the feed begins to break, so does Violet’s body – she becomes sicker and sicker, presenting a large obstacle for Titus, who above all desirese normalcy and the staus quo. Also at had is Titus’s social standing, as Violet is not widely accepted in to his group of friends, mainly because she continues to talk about a life without the feed, which Titus and his friends can’t imagine.
The book isn’t very long, and may take a bit of getting used to. Like Burgess and Zamyatin (godfathers of dystopia, as far as I’m concerned), Anderson takes the time to semi-invent a new language, introducing a kind of futuristic slang where “null” means bad and people are referred to as “units” (male) or “unettes” (female). Because of this slang, and because the characters have gotten used to a life without verbal communication – the feed allows for instantaneous mental chatting – the importance of language is a key theme in the novel, especially what happens to the rest of society when language begins to disappear. The book also poses commentaries on the rising influence of commerce on every aspect of life, and just how dangerous it could be to become a completely consumption based society, where a person’s worth isn’t based on intrinsic value, but on how much money they spend.
I read this book in my children’s literature class, and there were a number of my classmates who didn’t like the book as much as I did, mostly because they thought the language presented far too large a challenge. However, the context clues are more than helpful enough, and so I would recommend the book to anybody, really, but especially people who love dystopian fiction or are just looking for a nice introduction to science fiction in general, because the book, although possessing a number of sci-fi scenarios, is still somewhat grounded in a familiar reality. The book is only about 250 pages long (maybe a little more than that) so it couldn’t hurt to give it a read either way! Happy reading!