Review: Feed by MT Anderson

Feed - M.T. Anderson

 So I was reading this like brag buk, Feed by some like unit named MT Anderson and it was like meg not was I was expecting, it was all like big about consumerism and like all that.


Argh! Brain ache!


God I hated the language in this book. I was very close to hulk smashing it straight into the recycling (that's right - I still buy paper copies. I'm not meg into downloading from the feed yet units. Okay, okay - I'll stop. No more teen speak!) It was very frustrating what with all the "likes" and what have you. It was bringing to mind the skin-crawling annoyance I endured while slogging my way through the revolting slang inflicted on readers during A Clockwork Orange (although to be fair, Feed was nowhere near as bad) - it's so irritating to not have a fucking clue what characters are talking about when dialog includes so much imaginary future slang words and abbreviations.


However let's put that aside. The god-awful language is not what this book is all about ...... Consumerism, advertising, you need this NOW to enhance your life. We are being sold something almost constantly: on the radio, the television, billboards, in magazines and newspapers. There's a constant noise that you have to travel a long way to escape from. I live in the centre of the city. All around me I see posters telling me what car I should buy, what movie to see, what to eat and drink. It's relentless. And the worst of it is I allow myself to be sucked in, yanked by the wrist down the rabbit hole of shopping, gorging myself on sales, bargains, 3-for-2s ...... My wardrobe is jammed full of dresses I'll never wear, heels I cannot walk in, jeans that really don't flatter my shape, all because advertising convinced me I need them. But you know what? I do need them! I love to buy things! I love the rush, especially when there's a bargain involved. This morning I got an extendable dog lead, a sandwich box in the shape of a pig and a water bottle with a handle in the middle (?!!) all for £5 ..... Now look me in the eye and tell me that isn't really something!

We can harp on about consumerism and evil corporations and capitalism all we like but at the end of the day it's the world we live in. Feed was kinda fun as it showed a glimpse into the future of our world gone mad: everything is disposable, everything is easy and everything is centred around money. Anderson provides his vision of consumerism literally consuming society as lesions spread, skin is lost and hair falls out as the earth becomes steadily more poisonous while Titus and his friends and family are blinkered by something new and shiny to buy. It not a particularly realistic vision, but I guess it's thought provoking in the sense of thinking about reviewing our priorities. Is it right to prioritise fashion, fun and fancy things over the health of our planet? There are questions in there about pollution, genetic modification and depletion of fossil fuels. Yes, I usually hate this kind of thing passionately but actually I didn't hate it in Feed. It was an interesting take on the subject of conservation, and it wasn't rammed down my throat which I appreciated.


The characters in this book were largely unlikeable. But it didn't really matter ....Titus was a spoilt brat, but he was a believable spoilt brat. Violet was an insufferable snob, but she felt genuine. The other characters were really just vaguely floating in the background, bobbing into view when the plot required to change gear. But this suited the feel of the relationships in the book - everyone was very disconnected from each other, all sealed off in their own little bubbles within the Feed. With the ability to constantly be in contact with each other, in reality no-one was truly connected. No-one spoke about the important things, the big stuff. Bleak.


I especially enjoyed the demise of Violet. I hated the bitch so it didn't break my heart, but I very much liked Titus' opinion and view on the situation because it was very relevant to his character and the situation he was in but it was also different from any other YA relationship I have read about. It was not the usual insta-love, it was not falling for each other and hanging off each other's every word, every minute of every day. For Titus their relationship was a fling, a fleeting moment in existence which he hoped to enjoy and move along from. Some will say this is just another symptom of his throw away society, it's wrong, it's shallow blah, blah, blah. No. It's reality. Titus and Violet are teenagers. Just because they had fun hanging out for a few months and made out a few times doesn't mean they are then bound together for all eternity. They are young, they are learning about themselves and their place in relation to others. It's normal to have short, lively relationships that ultimately fizzle out to nothing. What isn't normal is this constant love at first sight I keep reading about. I applauded Titus when he refused to sleep with Violet as he didn't feel deeply for her. I thought that was a very respectful thing to do and pretty much the most admirable thing he did in the entire book. Yes, Violet was dying but Titus didn't want to be a part of that. Yes, Violet felt like she needed comfort and support, but Titus didn't feel like he was able to provide that and instead of faking it and lying to the girl he fazed himself out of her life and left it for her Dad to be there for her which in my opinion was entirely appropriate. I'm sure she would rather have had her beloved, caring and doting Father bathe her and feed her and reassure her than some questionable, dumb-ass guy she met like, two months previously and who has never shown one upstanding quality or skill in all that time. I thought it was perfectly reasonable that Titus didn't feel able to tend to Violet on her death bed.


I guess I thought in general the thing was inventive and entertaining. I'm taking it at face value and not thinking too hard, because I think if I think too hard I'd start to hate it and I really don't want to because I was amused and it was a nice quick, easy read. I suppose I would start to hate it just because I normally can't stand any kind of preaching, especially sneaky-sneaky preaching that's just slotted in there alongside the story so it creeps up on you until you're like HEY! Stop teaching me! I think it depends on your expectations. My expectations when reading fiction, especially YA fiction is for fast paced, snappy, smart entertainment. I don't want a lesson. And Feed is just almost bordering on telling me what a terrible person I am because I like to shop and I listen to advertising, and I live in a capitalist society. I really don't want to finish reading a book feeling like a horrible person who doesn't deserve clothes. I just want to enjoy the story. But ..... As I said Feed was bordering, teetering and never quite, in my opinion hit the tipping point so I can see past the lectures I did endure and give it four stars.


With best wishes for all your future endeavours ( don't forget to stop at the store downstairs on your way out and grab a supremely refreshing, ice- cold Coca Cola! Sorry our entryway inexplicably smells like vomit ..... Oh, it won't matter when you have your Coca Cola! Go! Go now!)