Author: M.T. Anderson
Narrated by: David Aaron Baker
Published: 2008 (book: 2002)
Publisher: Listening Library
[Goodreads | Amazon | Audible]
Blurb: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”
So says Titus, whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his “feed,” a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee & Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone’s been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what’s happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.
Following in the footsteps of Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Kurt Vonnegut, M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world–and a smart, savage satire about the nature of consumerism and what it means to be a teenager in America.
I might feel uncertain if I actually liked Feed or not, but one thing I know for sure - the audio version of it is excellent. The book itself is unique because of its narrator - a teen in a future with a device in his head that directly connects him to the internet. Titus, who is constantly fed a cocktail of advertising, entertainment and targeted info, has an almost atrophied brain, he lacks in basic knowledge of speech or reading, because why bother if all communication can be done through the Feed? His "voice" is highly stylized and peppered with "likes," "dudes," "fucks" and "dadadas." This voice can be annoying at times, but the audio truly brings it, as well as the Feed - a constant stream of information - ads, news, chats, whathaveyou, to live.
But other than the high quality of the audio production, Feed didn't really impress me.
For one, I guess Feed failed to properly scare me. You see, even though I am not a particularly tech savvy person, I am sooo far from lamenting the advancement of technology and the "loss of humanity" that comes with it. Yes, yes, Feed draws from present day culture of teens and tweens tweeting and texting in never ending OMGs and LOLs, but I am still not concerned. Somehow, these ignorant pubescents manage to grow up and become functioning members of society and in fact are often at an advantage in our Twitter and Facebook-driven world.
People have been predicting the end of the world due to technological or cultural changes since the dawn of days. Burn those astronomers and scientists! Don't let them women go to school and vote! Nobody writes letters a la Jane Eyre any more! Those telephones are EVIL! EBOOKS will ruin literature the way we know it! Every time there is a change in technology or culture, someone is crying apocalypse.
You know what? I am not scared of the changes. People evolve, communications evolve, and life goes on. Will there be time when internet is directly plugged into our brains? When we communicate mostly electronically? Maybe. So what? I am already plugged into my iPod/laptop/cable a significant amount of time. Would I be better off spending more time outside planting potatoes, picking cotton, turning over hay, grinding flour? You tell me.
In addition to the Feed concerns, there is another layer of the novel where human population seems to be decaying, literally, physically, with people developing lesions on their skin and the planet being destroyed, but that's a completely different story. All of that doesn't seem to be attributed to the evils of the Feed. Just carelessness of people. I am not even sure why Anderson put it into the story, without significantly connecting it to the rest. Was it all supposed to be a treatise against American over-consumerized culture, the cause of everything bad in the world? This side dish of social commentary wasn't flavored enough for my taste.
To me, Feed read a bit dated and a bit young. In spite of massive cursing and sexual content, the book's message is delivered in a simple and obvious way. But that's a normal thing. After all, this YA novel is over 10 years old and lost some of its bite.
I enjoyed the novel's "voice" (thanks to the fabulous audio), but did it provoke any thoughts or emotions in me? Not really. The highly satirized and stylized style of narrative might be at fault here. Satire doesn't work for me usually. Making a joke out of serious issues doesn't compel me to cheer for the cause, no matter how legit it is.
3/5 stars (mostly given for the quality of the audio)