Feed by Mira Grant

Note: This review was originally posted on my blog "Shelf of Friends" on February 28, 2012.

Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Pages: 571
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic (Zombie)
Age Range: Adult
Publication Date: 5/1/2010
Publisher: Orbit
Series Name: Newsflesh Trilogy

What's it about?

It's been twenty years since the zombie apocalypse, and zombies are now a way of life. Georgia and Shaun Mason are siblings who can't even remember a time before zombies. They live in a world that's been changed, but not that much. There is still politics. And candidates still go on campaign tours for the job of America's president.

When the Masons are selected to follow the campaign of a presidential candidate as reporters, they jump at the career-making opportunity. But going on campaign means leaving the safety of the fortified cities where non-zombies live in fear. They must brave the zombie ridden countryside of America on this campaign to the White House.

The Masons expect political drama and zombie threats. What they don't expect is to uncover an assassination plot and a dark government conspiracy that threatens them all.

Zombies? Really?

Yes, zombies. Don't roll your eyes. This isn't another zombie apocalypse novel where the main characters are minding their business and then--bam!--zombies. Rather this is a novel where zombies have been around for twenty years, and people have survived. Life goes on. A lot of zombie novels and movies are extremely bleak. Either everyone pretty much dies as zombie food (and then becomes a zombie) or the world breaks down into a Mad Max level of disorder. Mira Grant doesn't present that sort of bleak outcome. Zombies are an obstacle, and like any other obstacle people learn to deal with them.

Granted zombies aren't like you're regular vermin that people deal with in our modern era. The book presents a constant fear, a constant danger in the background mindset of everyone. Sure life goes on, but it's a life where anyone around might become a zombie at any moment. It's not just a bite that can turn you into a zombie (though a bite guarantees it). At any moment a person could just randomly become a zombie, because the zombie virus is present in everyone at every moment.

The book also presents interesting mutations of the zombie virus that affect people without turning them into a zombie, and I love that. Because viruses rarely stay in one form. I love the Georgia's eyes are extra sensitive to light because she has a mutated form of the zombie virus. I think that's fantastic. (And that's not a spoiler. That's like chapter one.)

So yes, this book is about zombies. But it's zombies as you've never seen them before. I promise.

Wait...a presidential candidate campaign? Is this just a political novel in disguise?

No! Be not afraid! This novel isn't preachy. Don't worry about it preaching politics you don't believe in at you. Don't worry about your children being brainwashed to one side or the other of the political spectrum. Unless you have really strong feelings on how the government should behave in the case of a zombie apocalypse.

The presidential candidate the Masons are following is a Republican, and he's also a genuinely good guy. But there weren't any rants on Republican values or anything like that. It's mostly concerned about politics in a post-zombie world. Policies are keeping people safe from zombies, searching for a cure, etc. And the Masons bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the campaign. They don't blindly follow this presidential candidate. Georgia openly tells the the candidate that if they're looking for people to write propaganda they've found the wrong reporters. The Masons are there to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

If this was a movie, what would its rating be?

I'm fairly certain that zombie movies are almost always rated R. Zombies pretty much equal violence. Though the language of the writing isn't coarse, the characters sometimes use rather coarse language, including the f-word. But there isn't any sex. I can't even recall any kissing other than the candidate kissing his wife in a sentence here or there. These people are too concerned with surviving zombies and uncovering conspiracies for any lovey-dovey stuff.

Overall, how was it?

Let me see: politics, conspiracies, and ZOMBIES! I loved it. Articles written by the reporter main characters are interspersed throughout the novel which give it an extra feel of reality. And I was surprised how quickly I became attached to the Masons, and the risks that Mira Grant was willing to take with them.

This is a fantastic novel with an end even I didn't see coming. If you like zombies or conspiracies or fast paced novels with a strong voice, Feed is the right book for you.