Feed – M.T. Anderson
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon—a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world—and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.
Review: I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book when I started reading it. It’s written in a futuristic dialect that’s slightly difficult to get used to, and the characters aren’t the brightest crayons in the box.
In a futuristic world, almost everyone has a “feed” in their brain. The feed controls their bodies, provides entertainment, allows them to chat telepathically, and tells them which products to buy. Like almost everybody else on Earth, Titus only cares about having fun and being cool. Then, he meets Violet, an unusual girl whose malfunctioning feed is slowly paralyzing her.
I struggled with this book at first, but then I started loving it. It’s a very clever satire about our culture’s obsession with advertising, technology, and owning the next great product. Titus’s characterization is brilliant because he’s the result of his environment. He wants to go to clubs and drive around in expensive hover cars. He doesn’t care about his education or think about his future. When the fun suddenly stops and life gets serious, he has no clue what to do.
I love Violet and Titus’s relationship. It starts off cute and playful, but both of the characters are flawed. Their relationship is far from perfect. Violet is intense, and Titus is immature. Violet is an intellectual, and Titus barely knows how to read. They come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and Titus’s friends don’t like Violet. The struggles that their different lifestyles cause are realistic. I liked watching them try to work out their problems.
I also started to like Titus more and more as the book went on. He has lived such a sheltered life that he doesn’t know how to cope with Violet’s illness or her unrealistic expectations of their relationship. It’s hard to watch him struggle. It’s also hard to watch his parents shelter him from life. When he asks them about the hacker who messed with his and Violet’s feeds, his parents buy him expensive gifts instead of telling him the unpleasant truth.
My biggest issue with this book is that it’s predictable. To me, it was obvious early-on how the story would end. There are some surprises along the way, but the book ends exactly how I thought it would.
Even with the slow start and the predictability, this is a great science fiction story. It’s funny, creative, and full of realistic characters. Also, Titus and Violet go on a date to a filet mignon farm that has a maze made out of raw steak. Who doesn’t want to read a book that has a steak maze?