Feed by Mira Grant
Feed is the first of the Newsflesh trilogy, which is about zombies. I like reading horror much more than I like watching it in movies or TV, but David has gotten me hooked on zombies, thanks to Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead. This series is a unique entry in the genre, one that uses well-established tropes but provides a slightly new take on many of them.
This series is set in 2040, years after the first outbreaks. The first outbreaks were caused by scientists trying to cure cancer and the common cold. They succeeded, but the viruses they were using as vaccines interacted with each other, creating a supervirus that caused the dead to reanimate. All the living are carriers of a dormant form of the virus and convert immediately upon death, even if they weren’t bitten. This seems a logical and rational way to explain something totally crazy, right? The science behind these explanations seemed plausible enough, and all of this world-building seemed necessary to make the later action make sense.
Feed isn’t about zombies just shambling around pointlessly: as in all good science fiction, the zombies are just a means of creating more dramatic situations and choices for characters to be faced with. The characters in this case are Georgia and Shaun, a brother/sister blogger team that becomes attached to a political campaign. There are a series of outbreaks on the campaign trail that are revealed to have been caused by sabotage and betrayal. The journalists have a mystery to solve, and though it is fairly obvious that the outbreaks are not accidents and who is responsible for them, it holds attention and does a good job of driving the plot.
The best thing about this book is its portrayal of a passionate journalist devoted to the truth. It shows the election process as something full of intrigue, drama, and even hope. Obviously, the zombie-free nature of real life politics makes it much less interesting, but the book doesn’t glamorize zombies at all. But showing the political process as something that incredibly cool young characters are immersed in, showing policy as consequential and fraught with moral dilemnas, can only be a good thing. I think the book could even inspire young readers to get interested in politics, as well as science.
The relationship between Georgia and Shaun is the book’s core. It’s rare to see such devoted, even passionate brother/sister relationships in fiction. The tragedy that befalls them at the end is moving, and feels both surprising and inevitable.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Deadline!