In the nineteenth chapter of Feed, Georgia discovers what happened to her on the highway. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feed.
I recently brought this up on Mark Watches, but it’s necessary to talk about this here. The trope of using light and dark to represent good and evil is as old as dirt. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but before the word “trope” was even a word, this archetype was around. The use of any trope isn’t bad or good in and of itself, and I’m always fascinated about how writers choose to use these elements of storytelling. So, given the recent events in this book, it’s just damn lovely how Grant subverts the usual use of this trope to give us a place that feels evil and is blindingly white. When Georgia wakes up in the CDC facility, the sterility of the place is frightening. We have no idea where she’s been taken, we don’t know if she’s safe, we don’t now if it’s for some sinister purpose, and where the fuck is she? The clinical nature of this setting is eerie, and a lot of that is because it’s in direct contrast to where these characters were in the last chapter.
Georgia quickly puts together that she’s been kidnapped by the CDC, but that didn’t exactly make me feel better. Why on earth would they go out of their way to do something like this? If they all passed their field tests, surely there was a better way to confirm that they weren’t going to go through amplification than kidnapping.
On top of this, Georgia is in a unique state of mind, one we’ve not seen from here in this book. For growing up in a world with Kellis-Amberlee, Georgia has somehow been able to avoid losing anyone close to her. Buffy is the very first person she has cared about that was claimed by the virus. As Georgia describes it, Kellis-Amberlee was always “background noise” to her and Shaun. So, not only has she been kidnapped, but she has to cope with the fact that she just lost a close friend right in front of her. Oh, and that friend betrayed her and got people killed. Oh, AND SHE WAS KIDNAPPED BY THE CDC.
She does manage to find Rick down the hallway from her, and the two begin their journey out of this creepy place. I just love how much their dynamic is all over this chapter, and Grant explores how these two get along and talk to each other. I guess I’m happy that Rick isn’t a villain? When he was first introduced, I hoped that he was just coincidentally convenient. I DIDN’T TRUST HIM. But now, he’s one of my favorite characters. He straddles this line between being playful and overly cautious. (Which is a great foil against Shaun, for the record.) Plus, he’s more comfortable with Shaun and Georgia, especially since they’ve already been through a few hellish situations, and I find that this means he keeps dropping HORRIFICALLY DEPRESSING DETAILS about his life before After The End Times. Like how he and his ex-wife were super familiar with isolation ward layouts. HELP. Honestly, though, that’s important to his character development. He obviously trusts the Mason siblings enough to share these sort of things, but he certainly wasn’t forthcoming when he first joined the team.
This time, his smile was small and tight and held not a trace of humor. “Ethan taught me about CDC isolation. Lisa taught me about shock.”
Good god, this character, I swear.
Anyway, given that these characters were in a CDC isolation ward, I actually wasn’t nervous about them taking the blood test to get out to see Shaun. This is a first! I will resume feeling awful shortly, and there’s nothing you can do about that. It was a relief to see Shaun and even more pleasant that Senator Ryman was there to greet them and envelope Georgia in a massive hug. But then I started wondering what the hell was going on and if Ryman knew what had happened regarding Buffy.
“That’s a funny story, actually,” said Shaun.
Oh lord. This can’t be good.
“Someone called the CDC two minutes before you did and told them that we’d all been killed in the accident.”
Clearly, whoever shot at the convoy was also responsible for the phone call. My guess is that they panicked when they saw that Shaun, Rick, and Georgia weren’t dead. But my god, the dedication these terrorists show is creepy. They were clearly trying to end the lives of the entire blogging team. It’s unnerving because they’ve already gotten away with so much, and that means they can continue to do worse than this.
But before this is discussed by there characters, there’s a rather touching moment between Georgia and one of the doctors who is actually a fan. It’s initially comforting to Georgia to hear the woman’s kind words, especially since it was Georgia’s family history that helped the Doctor in medical. Before Georgia leaves to change (and rather abruptly so), the nurse reveals that a notice about Buffy was added to the Wall. For Georgia, it’s the moment she can no longer deny that Buffy is gone. She’s dead, claimed by the virus. But I was struck by this comment the most:
We were connected to the rest of the world, even when we were isolated.
I think it’s applicable to the world we live in now, but it’s absolutely crucial to understanding the world that Grant has crafted. It’s a fascinating statement about loneliness and connectivity, and it’s not necessarily comforting either. Georgia and her friends were still isolated out on that highway, despite that they were “connected” to the world around them. While this has a more logistical meaning here (Georgia realizes that the entire accident was recorded), I think it’ll prove to be an important theme of the series.
The final portion of this chapter address the head-scratching weirdness of what the blogging team has gone through. No one tries to hoax the CDC, so whoever they’re dealing with has a serious sense of dedication to killing off these people. But for the first time in the book, Georgia and Ryman square off and don’t ultimately agree on the end result. And that kind of disturbs me. I don’t necessarily think Ryman is being disrespectful or unreasonable, and that’s what bothers me the most. Ultimately, I do agree with Georgia that it’s highly absurd that information regarding the case is being kept from the bloggers, and I was glad Ryman agreed to hand over the reports. But it’s the first time Georgia verbally spars with the Senator, and it worries me. Was this the whole point? Are these terrorists trying to break up this group in more ways than one? Will we see more conflicts like this in the future?
Ugh, Shaun’s goodbye to Buffy just hurts, y’all. This goddamn book is gonna destroy me AND I STILL HAVE TWO MORE.
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