Sunday, June 20, 2021

Feed by M.T. Anderson


I'm doing this project where I'm rereading books I enjoyed from my adolescence and seeing how they hold up. FEED was a book that really stuck out to me as a candidate because I still remembered it so strongly despite not picking it up for several years. It's kind of like a YA-ed up version of BRAVE NEW WORLD. In a future where the earth is suffering from multiple environmental crises, humans take solace in an electronic soma: the internet feeds wired into their brains.

Titus, the hero, is the main character. He's just an ordinary teen who likes to do dumb stuff with his friends. When we meet them, they're partying on the moon, wanting to hook up and get wasted. Then he sees a girl who isn't like other girls. Her name is Violet and she uses big words and actually cares about the world beyond what it can offer up to her for sale. But when a rioter hijacks their computers to make a political statement, something goes wrong with Violet's... and as she struggles with her health, she tries to make Titus see without the influence of his feed.

This is a very depressing book but I think the author did a really good job with it. All the slang is a bit tricky at first, but the words the author chose all make sense and I picked it up pretty quickly. Some readers complained about the swearing and graphic content, but again, I think it sets the stage for the vapid, superficial world the author created and it never crosses into explicit.

Some sci-fi books don't age well but this one actually got better with age. The author actually predicted so much-- doom scrolling, toxic positivity, physically harmful trends for the sake of virality, and so much more. What makes this even more impressive is that social media was still kind of a gleam in the internet's eye when this was published, and so were the shopping algorithms that are now economical powerhouses online. I can't say that this book filled me with joy but it was incredibly intelligent and insightful for a YA dystopian and I think I liked it more as an adult than I did as a teen.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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