Welcome back to Look! A Book! my Iggles and Miggles. What have I been reading this month? Well, I’m still getting through A Song of Ice and Fire, I seem to be having trouble getting into the fourth book. I would recommend reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: they’re both fantastic coming of age stories (I almost chose those to use as my blog this month).
I have fabulous (almost) unrelated news! Even though it is oldish news now, almost a month old, it deserves repeating. Apple lost the lawsuit where they were accused of conspiring with four of the big five publishers to raise ebook prices. Let me make myself clear, Apple lost. The only reason that we didn’t see a drop in ebook pricing is because the publishers had settled some time ago; if they had gone to court, Apple and four of the big five would have lost. While this isn’t all good news, because it does give Amazon an incredibly big advantage in the market (though I love my Kindle to absolute death) and Amazon isn’t always the most stand up of companies, I think that the move will give us more independent and small publishers publishing ebooks that are then sold by the big guys, which all-in-all is fantastic.
I now return you to your regularly programmed book review.
Feed, by Mira Grant
I admit, I avoided this book for a long time because it has the same title as one of my absolute Young Adult Science Fiction novels, but then it showed up as an ebook for something ridiculous like $1.99. Come on. How could I resist a best-selling zombie novel for that kind of price?
Less than a page into the novel, I knew I’d made a mistake in waiting so long to read this novel. Only days prior, my boyfriend had told me that one of his biggest problems with zombie movies/shows/books etc. was that in these universes people have never even heard the word “zombie.” I mean really, Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 and zombies have been a part of our pop culture ever since. It is rather obnoxious when there’s not even a mention of how prevalent the zombie is in pop culture. It always gives novels an air of falsehood, because then it doesn’t seem to quite happen in our reality. Less than a page into the novel, I came across this passage and I couldn’t help but grin.
“When the infected first appeared — heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgement day was at hand — they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.”
In this universe, not only were zombies a part of pop culture before the infection began, but after it was in full swing George Romero was considered a hero who helped the human race survive. His films became handy instructional films on how not to end up one of the living dead before your time.
One of the most wonderful, unique parts of this zombie novel is that the zombies are really only a side-note. Yes, there are zombies, but life goes on. We have to make a living, someone has to report on the news, and yes, even elections are held. The zombies changed everything, but still life goes on. This novel takes place in 2039 and 2040, really not that far in our future. The infection had started some twenty years prior when the cure for the common cold and the cure for cancer were released and mutated together into something else, the Kellis-Amberlee virus. The novel follows Shaun and Georgia sibling rising star bloggers who are selected to follow the presidential campaign of a hopeful Republican nominee.
Oh, right. Did I mention that when the outbreak happened, the major news networks fell apart? As the world was ending, the news networks were still claiming it was a hoax and that there was no proof. The people, understandably lost faith in the traditional news networks and started turning to the bloggers who were reporting on what was actually going on, who were testing the zombie’s limits, and just generally writing about the new world, rather than ignoring it as it changed around us.
I had a few problems with this novel. Quite a lot of it didn’t quite float: New technology was too quickly too widely available for decent prices. The villain was stupidly obvious, and the political agenda was a little shoved down your throat, even though I agree with the politics of Grant. After only 20 years, there were way too few new problems; everyone acted like this has been the norm forever. Now, I understand that Shaun and Georgia were born after the Rising, so this is all they know, but those not much older than them knew the world before the Rising, and everyone’s just too damn accepting of it. It left a weird “not-so-true” taste in my mouth. It really felt like I couldn’t look too closely at the “established facts” of this reality before it started to sort of fall apart.
All that being said, I’d give this novel 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a fun read, with the added bonus of being a slightly unconventional look at zombies by looking more at the politics and how it would change our world than the horror and blood and gore. Plus, the emotional punches that it throws from time to time left me reeling.