Book Review: Feed by M. T. Anderson
Titus is your typical teenager of future America. He lives in a suburb where his parents program the weather. He drives an upcar. He’s got a feed–a microchip in his brain that allows him to chat silently with people, shop, look up anything he wants to know more about, etc… He’s also got a lesion, but a lot of people have those now. He is quite ordinary. But he meets a girl on a trip to the moon who is anything but ordinary. A girl who got the feed late and dares to question it.
This book has a great concept, essentially exploring what the world would be like if twitter was implanted into our brains. This is rather extraordinary given that twitter didn’t even exist yet when Anderson wrote it. It explores losing our individuality to machines and consumerism. Ceasing to care about important information due to being bombarded by inane information at all hours of the day. I just wish Anderson had taken this concept a different direction.
I immediately connected with Violet, the girl Titus meets on the moon. She’s quirky, is homeschooled, and really is a bit of a nerd who just wants a chance to try out hanging out with the popular kids and doing what they do. Titus is a complete and total asshole to her. I suppose I could forgive him for that if he showed that he learned anything from coming into contact with a person as powerful as Violet, but he doesn’t. He ditches her when she needs him most because she’s making him uncomfortable. He wants to stay in the cocoon of his feed-driven life, and nothing she does or says can change that. He clearly goes from girl to girl, using them up like paper towels or tissues, and then on to the next one. Maybe that was Anderson’s point–that the feed has dehumanized the people who have it–but it made for a less powerful book than if Titus had learned something. Anything.
Similarly some questions just aren’t answered simply because Titus doesn’t care, so we aren’t allowed to know. In particular the lesions are set up as some sinister mystery, but then we never find out why they are occurring. Nobody even really speculates as to why they’re showing up. They’re just there. I seriously doubt there’d be zero speculation over such a phenomenon, even in a future where people are obsessed with consumerism.
Overall, the concept and writing on a sentence level are good, but the story as a whole left me feeling empty and disappointed. There’s telling a bleak story, and then there’s telling a story that’s sympathetic to a jerkwad. This is the latter. If that type of story is something you enjoy, you will enjoy this book. Everyone else should look elsewhere, perhaps to The Hunger Games if you’re looking for a YA dystopia.
3 out of 5 stars