In the fifteenth chapter of Feed, the team faces a squad of guards when their conversation with Senator Ryman is picked up, and JESUS CHRIST THIS IS SO TENSE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feed.
HA HASJDLFKH ALJH AL;LJHDSF AH OH MY GOD THIS CHAPTER. Look, I’m at a point where I’m just expecting everything to go wrong. It’s gotten so bad that I am just waiting for the inevitable moment when someone fails a blood test. They’re so routine and often that I know they’re not here just to build the world. Someone is going to fail one. It’s going to be awful. Hell, I half expected someone to fail one before they left the ranch.
I did not expect them all to get surrounded by the army. It’s so instantaneous that I had to read the opening paragraph again. Did that seriously just happen? Even worse, it became clear to me (or so I thought) what direction this story was going: the government was going to confiscate the evidence Shaun just found, ruining the team’s chance of getting to play detectives. And that’s an entirely believable thing to have happen. In hindsight, it’s something I should have seen coming. With government control in a Kellis-Amberlee world being so harsh and regulatory, it would only make sense that the government would monitor as many transmissions as possible in the name of public safety. So just how far is the United States government willing to go? How many times have they stopped such a discovery from seeing public light in the past?
Unfortunately, for them, the army severely misjudged who they were talking to and who the After the End Times team were working for. Going after bloggers known for their honesty and integrity was already a bad idea. Choosing a group that’s not only one of the most popular blogs on the web and expecting that they could sweep it under a rug? This is downright criminal in its foolishness. What did they expect? I mean, look, I do understand that these people just found a syringe full of a frightening dosage of a regulated virus, so it’s not like I don’t get just how serious this was. But this whole thing was a mess. How did the general running this operation not know the bloggers had Senator Ryman’s explicit permission to be there? Why treat them so terribly? It was fucking scary when they made Georgia take off her sunglasses. I had a brief thought at this point: I was sure Georgia would receive irreparable damage from this.
However, I really missed the mark on my preconceptions for this story. Senator Ryman comes through to support his bloggers. Actually, Rick does as well, especially when he’s able to recite Secor vs. the State of Massachusetts, 2024 as proof that the army cannot take possession of the syringe for reasons of national security. (Consider this the moment I needed to trust Rick. I like him a lot now, and I think he’s genuinely in it for the long haul. His blog entry that ends this chapter is all the proof that I need.) Oh gosh, I know this is just a bad idea, considering my track record, but this seriously can’t be the first time Ryman/ATET will clash with the government. It can’t! The overreaction on the part of the army here just seems too volatile and overreaching. Again, which is not to deny how fucked up this discovery is. I get that the government wants to put a lid on this as soon as possible. But the bloggers embarrass them here. Buffy’s technology allowed them to livestream the entire exchange, so now they have, on record, the government doing something that’s most likely very illegal. I don’t think that will amount to more than a small scandal, since the discovery of the vial completely overshadows that.
Bless Shaun, by the way, for purposely antagonizing the “red-faced general” (General Bridges) who ordered the army to intervene. He really is suited for the Irwin life, poking things with sticks that shouldn’t be poked with sticks. He’s also a tad insensitive here, talking openly about ratings in front of Senator Ryman, who just found out his parents and daughter were murdered. I know it’s a very short moment in this chapter, but it was a chance for me to see that Grant could make her characters flawed, even in subtle ways. Shaun’s excitement and swagger gets in the way of his understandings of social nuance at times, and this demonstrated that to me. But he’s a good dude at heart, and I like that as well.
I’m still very thankful that this book is seen through Georgia’s eyes as well. She’s got this refreshing, no-nonsense view of everything, and it helps with sifting through all the chaos. She’s not emotionless, so it’s not like she makes a very bare-bones narrator. I find that I use her as a filter. When she freaks out or is overwhelmed, then I understood just how serious everything is. In particular, she’s extremely upset about this discovery and its implications. Clearly, the attack earlier in the book and this one have to be connected. I’m not sure that I have enough information to even guess who might go after Peter Ryman like this, though. Who would be both desperate and determined enough to use terrorism to take him down? I DON’T GET IT.
How great is the hotel set-up? I liked that it was basically a smaller version of what the Mason siblings had at their house. It also helped me understand just how “the science of moving people” has changed in the Kellis-Amberlee world. Shit, that’s something a lot of us take for granted, isn’t it? Because of the nature of the virus, society had to re-think just how people enter buildings. And Grant thought of that. And it’s all in this book. How does one person think of so many things? Okay, granted, I’m trying to keep four fictional worlds in my head at any time right now, so I’m being ridiculous, but seriously, the depth of the world-building in Feed is probably its greatest treat. That’s also clear in the way Grant describes the Internet, and I’d like to state that this is the first book I’ve read in a long time that doesn’t make me cringe when the Internet is brought up. It’s just such a patently hard thing to write about because it generally comes across as very silly. But the Internet is integrated into the lives of these bloggers, so the narration of things like checking message boards is natural instead of clunky. For Georgia, she’s got to manage the people in her community, her staff members, and the way that information passes between the two groups.Â It doesn’t feel gratuitous; it feels necessary.
AND HOW AWESOME IS THE MASSIVE CHAT ROOM THING WITH ALL THE VIDEO SCREENS? I mean, I figured that the team needed some way to communicate all at once during big events, but it was awesome to see how it was pulled off. Which, again, spoke to me of how incredibly fucked up this twist was. Good lord, I have no idea what happens next. H E L P.
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