The modern zombie novel is a battle between cliché and originality. Mira Grant’s “Feed” is no exception, relying on our conventional understanding of the shambling zombie horde to drive tension in the story. In Grant’s world, though, humanity has found ways to manage and contain the seething masses of infected. In short, the world doesn’t end when zombies attack. That break from convention, told from the perspective of professional bloggers (accepted, in “Feed,” as the most credible news source around), combine to create a really interesting read.
In typical zombie tales, the story ends with the infected inexorably taking over the planet. We see humanity brought to its knees, each survivor eventually cornered and chewed upon. While watching zombie movies, I always find myself wondering a few things: How does the military fail to defend against slow-moving and mindless creatures that lack ranged weapons? A zombie can’t claw its way into a tank or armored car.
Have you ever seen modern body armor? Good luck getting through that with your teeth. I’m sure we could whip up some stormtrooper armor that would keep the infected at bay without any significant vulnerability. There’d probably be designer body-armor stores cropping up by the dozen within days. Sure, the outbreak would take a lot of people by surprise, but as soon as people realize what’s going on, zombies would have a tough time finding a meal. Zombies simply aren’t smart enough to take over the world.
I like “Feed” because the zombies don’t really win. At least, they don’t in the first book (which is the only one I’ve read thus far). Zombie outbreaks are tightly controlled and monitored, and people have used their brains to build security into daily life. It’s a different take on the traditional zombie uprising. Mira Grant has taken the old and made it new through a combination of unique perspective, and simple common sense. George A. Romero’s zombies aren’t taking the world over any time soon, but they certainly aren’t inconsequential.
The writing itself is mostly great. Grant expertly maintains a constant, subtle tension throughout the story. My only complaint lies with some questionable character decisions, but I’m picky. The story flows along beautifully.
If you find zombies even remotely entertaining, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book. There’s a reason “Feed” and “Deadline” (the sequel) have both been nominated for a Hugo for best new Sci-Fi.
Quinton Lawman is a technical writer at OverDrive.
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