In the first chapter of Feed, we’re introduced to a future where at least a third of the world died off from a brutal infection, and the survivors are left to cope with the living dead. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start the Newsflesh trilogy.
Before I get into this review properly, a few things we need to discuss!
1) This is fun! This series is both ridiculously popular and one that no one seems to know about. I thought it would be fun to do another series where most of the people commenting and participating had not read the books. I love when there are folks following at the same pace that I am! So, if you have read these books and this is your first time on the site, please consult the Site Rules and Spoiler Policy. We use rot13 to cypher any and all spoilers in the comments so that myself and other folks can still participate without being spoiled. There’s also a fairly strict set of community guidelines in place about how to conduct yourself here. Please familiarize yourself with this before you ever post a comment, because you’ll likely only get a warning or two after this before your commenting privileges are revoked.
2) Running the Mark Does Stuff community continues to be rather expensive, as there are a LOT of you, and y’all tend to show up at one time. (Especially for Mark Watches.) I’m always trying to find ways to respectfully keep this place afloat, and I’d like to start using my Amazon Affiliate account to hopefully raise a few dollars a month to go towards hosting, spam removal, and my glorious server that I had to get last December when Buffy fans fried a server in less than sixty seconds. Occasionally, you’ll see me link to books, movies, television shows, etc., and I’ll probably explicitly tell you what the link is for. Basically, if you purchase stuff through Amazon, I can get a small percentage for directing you there.
3) This series will be alternated here on Mark Reads with Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lionness quartet. Like I do on Mark Watches with Buffy/Angel, that means we will take turns each day. Please check out the Master Schedule, which contains the official post order and all plans for future reviews for both sites!
4) Oh my god, I am so unprepared.
No, seriously, I am! Here’s what I know about Newsflesh as a trilogy:
That’s it. That’s all I know. I LOVE WHEN THIS HAPPENS. I chose this trilogy solely because of quite a few vocal fans (like fellow mod SpectralBovine and one of my editors, Shiyiya) told me that it’s a series that is full of things that seem to be catered specifically to me. And it’s becoming kind of popular? And one of the books is up for a Hugo Award? Oh god, let’s do this.
I love zombies. I really do. I think I went through a bit of an overload at one point in my life, binging through Romero’s films and trying to get my hands on every issue of The Walking Dead, and spending way too much time watching subpar and downright terrible zombie movies on Netflix. I stepped away from the zombie world and only recently got back into it with AMC’s version of The Walking Dead. (I have so many goddamn thoughts about that show, so if anyone would like to start an rot13-laden comment derailment about this show, I will give you all of my feelings forever.)
Here’s what I’m looking for in Feed: I love zombies in general, but I need to know how this book is different. What sets it apart? What does Mira Grant do differently in her version of this dystopian future? Does she utilize the common rules of zombies or twist them in a unique way?
I can see how some of my concerns are answered pretty much immediately. It wasn’t until the end of the first chapter that I understood that this was going to be an epistolary novel, the first I’ve ever read where the documents are blog posts. OMG, I’m writing blog posts about blog posts. I’ve gone too deep. Anyway, by framing the narrative this way, Grant does a few things I rather like:
- The zombie apocalypse already happened. I’m not going to see it go down. The narrative is set in the dystopian world as it’s already formed.
- We already know how it started! It was caused by the Kellis-Amberlee virus, and no one really knows where it came from. But it was set loose, people became the living dead, and there’s no mystery about it.
- We get pretty much all the basic rules of how the zombies will operate in this series in the first chapter. That’s exciting to me! Getting expository stuff out of the way means we can plow through to… well, whatever this book is going to be about.
- Using the blog posts means that Grant gets to narrate in the first person for both of the main characters, the Mason siblings. That also means their narration is actually the characters’ writing. It’s an interesting lens to view the events of the book through, so I’m fascinated to see how this is going to be used.
There’s a clear dynamic set up between Georgia and Shuan right from the get go. Shaun is far more reckless and humorous than Georgia is; she appears to take her role quite seriously. I think that’s apparent from how short Shaun’s blog entry is in this chapter. He’s not a man of many words (at least not yet), but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to say. But I admit I’m far more intrigued by what Georgia has to say about all this than him. What’s the Wall? Is it a Memorial of sorts? I got the sense that while there are zombie hotspots across the United States, there were certainly a lot of safe zones. How else could anyone be “safe” in this world? Or wait… what if the Wall is some giant wall that separates the living from the dead? LOOK, I’M TRYING TO GUESS.
I’m interested to know why Georgia is blogging this. Is it a personal thing? Is she a famous journalist covering the zombie epidemic in an intimate, emotional way? What sort of audience does she have? I get the feeling that she understands the responsibility she has as a journalist to report news. With all the meta theories and conversations about the world spreading like wildfire, I can tell she just wants to report the truth while acknowledging the bias inherent in such an act. Her reality is biased, and it always will be. Her experience in Santa Cruz could have looked completely different to an outsider, and she admits her blog is an opinion piece.
So exactly how do people get their news in 2039?
Mark Links Stuff
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– I am now putting Mark Watches videos on Vimeo as well (they’re all located here) to avoid copyright issues I’m having on YouTube. This also means that all videos CANNOT have audio from the show in them, or I risk losing my YouTube AND Vimeo account and then no one gets videos. So for now, this is the solution to this problem.