Mark Reads ‘Feed’: Chapter 14

In the fourteenth chapter of Feed, Shaun, Rick, and Georgia search the Ryman ranch for foul play. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feed.

Chapter Fourteen

I’d like to speak to Grant’s ability to make me believe her world.

There has been a lot of exposition in the thirteen chapters prior to this. I haven’t complained, but one of my personal friends said they had a hard time getting through the first half of this book because they wanted more action. That’s a fair criticism because that’s what appeals to them. A lot of the films and books that I adore tend to develop slowly, and that’s my personal taste. I worry about recommending films like The Conversation or There Will be Blood or Mulholland Drive because I know the set-up takes a long while. I admit that. The same goes for Perdido Street Station, a book (the first of a trilogy) that I’ve been mentioning every so often. It’s nearly 200 pages of solid character development and world exposition, and I know others who tried to read it, but couldn’t get past this.

And you know, I’m not going to fight people on that. I recall that some of you had the same complaint, and I don’t fault you for that. I enjoy narratives that reward you. I enjoy feeling immersed in a world so much that I believe it’s real. So for me, it was absolutely necessary that Grant spend so much time developing the Kellis-Amberlee world in order for her to pull of, at the very least, what happens in this chapter. I needed to believe the severity of the group going into the Ryman ranch. I needed the information to understand how foolish and risky this was. And when Shaun stepped on that piece of plastic, I absolutely needed to understand what a horrifying, possibly life-altering moment that was.

I actually stopped reading for about thirty seconds ago because I truly believed that Mira Grant was going to kill off Shaun. It actually made a lot of sense. In this very chapter, Georgia talks about how much she loves and respects her brother as she watches him be the very best Irwin she has ever seen. “I don’t care,” she thinks, “I love him, and one day I’ll bury him, and until then, I’m going to be grateful that I’m allowed to watch him talk.” In hindsight, it seemed like obvious foreshadowing. I was about at the halfway mark through Feed, and it could very well be that this was where everything would kick into action in the worst way imaginable. So I developed this instant theory for where this book would go after that, how Georgia would deal with her grief, and then I decided to just read more.

It’s a wonderful moment. I love being able to experience something like. Part of the reason this happened could be because I’m so used to tragedy at this point in the Mark Does Stuff world that I expect. (Goddamn it, Whedon and Martin and Rowling. Goddamn you for this.) Still, I think Grant deserves credit where credit is due. This world is so fully realized and developed that I don’t have to guess how things like Shaun’s accident will proceed. I know that it’s supremely fucked up, and he very well could have died in this chapter. I expected that the team would find something that pointed towards sabotage or murder. Grant had made it clear that things did not add up, especially once she explained (through Georgia) that spontaneous amplification was super rare. What made me so nervous about reading the ranch was that I also knew that there were a million other factors that could ruin everything.

Bless this book. BLESS IT.

There’s just so much incredible information here, and it was nice to get the chance to see Rick in action. Rick is going to die, by the way. I’m sorry, but he ignores protocol, hangs out alone outside his car in a known contamination zone, PICKS UP A LIVE CAT BEFORE TESTING IT FOR PRESENCE OF A VIRUS, and I WILL NOT BE SURPRISED WHEN HE DIES. That being said, I like him. He’s kind of a bumbling fool, yes, but he does care about what he’s doing. Plus, it’s kind of entertaining to have him around, especially since he makes Shaun mad, and when Shaun is mad, I am pleased. IT IS ALSO QUITE ENTERTAINING.

As I said before, this chapter made me extremely nervous. I didn’t expect there to be any living creatures left in any of the barns that the team went into. The process Georgia described concerning de-contamination seemed thorough enough that it would take out any life forms left. Still, the scenes in those gory, blood-soaked barns were eerie and progressively unsettling. There are few violent scenes in this book so far, so having to spend time in the aftermath is creepy. I also know that Georgia has seen fucked up stuff her entire life, so the fact that she vomits in the barn is enough to tell me how terrible this place must have looked.

Of course, nothing could have prepared me for that last barn. My god. I was just imagining some sort of Carrie-like atmosphere in that place. Hell, at best, all I could do was imagine the scene in that barn. The imagery alone was nightmare fuel, right? But when they discover that there is a syringe in the stall, full of “enough Kellis-Amberlee to convert the entire population of Wisconsin,” I knew that I hadn’t even begun to get to the meat of this goddamn book. What the fuck? Georgia’s blog post explains that just ten microns of the virus can infect a creature susceptible to amplification.

The horse that started the infection that killed Rebecca Ryman was injected with an estimated 900 million microns of live Kellis-Amberlee.

Now look me in the eye and tell me that wasn’t terrorism.

What the hell have I signed up for???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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