In the twenty-fourth chapter of Feed, everything is just wrong. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feed.
This is just downright difficult to write. I have to admit that a character I like a great deal has made a mistake and a terrible one at that. The dread. THE DREAD. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
Before Georgia confronts Senator Ryman, though, there’s a lot that happens that I do want to discuss. First of all, this:
My dress was custom-made. The skirt is breakaway, the bodice is fitted to allow me to carry a recorder and a gun, and there’s a pocket concealed at the waist for extra ammo. Even with all those alterations, it’s the most confining garment I own, and the situations that call for me to wear it almost invariably require hose and heels. At least modern pantyhose are made with a polymer weave that’s virtually puncture proof.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW AMAZING THIS IS? Look, it’s just plain cool all on its own, but Georgia had an outfit commissioned specifically to buck the unchanging formal wear available for women. This is such a powerful thing to read, and is beautifully in character for Georgia. She does exactly what she needs to get what she wants, and damn it, she will not be constrained by archaic clothing options!
Once dressed, Georgia decides she needs to get into the party her brother and Rick are covering. Whatever it is that Georgia learned is so important and mind-blowing that she risks everything to get inside. Of course, I desperately needed to know what it was Dave and Alaric discovered in Buffy’s files, but Grant was clearly going to hold on to that for a while. Instead, Grant writes with a growing intensity and urgency, giving us a Georgia who is frighteningly determined. She’s willing to outright confirm to Steve that she’s learned something about Eakly. Despite that I know Georgia likes Steve, I wouldn’t say she trusts him with the inner workings of her writing, so to me, this moment demonstrated just how important this was to her.
The two of them move with purpose as Steve arranges a way for himself to be covered while he drives Georgia to the ball. It’s a silent drive, and it’s what I expected of Steve. He’s not a talkative guy. Plus, what the hell is Georgia supposed to say? He already knows that whatever she just found out is big enough that she’s got to break protocol a bit just to tell someone. And when they do arrive at the hall where Ryman was speaking, it’s a nightmare. I mean, shit, guards with automatic weapons stand near the valets who have all the blood test kits? There’s no chance of survival if you test positive. You’ll be gunned down on the spot, a mere unfortunate moment to an otherwise extravagant gala. Security in general at this place is just bewildering. A blood test to get out of the elevator? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Well, that’s the price paid for an event that gives the appearance that the world never faced a zombie outbreak. And that is a fascinating thing to me: a political event purposely pushes the world’s problems outside the building. Dare I say this is a bit of subtextual political commentary? Let a boy dream.
Once Georgia got inside and manage to communicate with Shaun (I loved their code about a punchline), I started to wonder what the fuck Georgia was going to do. Obviously, she needed to tell Shaun whatever it was she learned. But then what? If they discovered the organization that Tate belonged to, what would their next move be? To be honest, I don’t even know what I would do in a situation like this. I want to admit that straight-up because I think it’s relevant to what Georgia ultimately decides to do with the information she has.
Bless Rick, by the way, for pretending to be drinking and for being so astute about all the signs Georgia sends him during this scene.
So, let’s just do this.
” ‘Where’d it come from?” would be a better question. It went to Tate. It came from the tobacco companies, and from some people they haven’t traced yet.”
“We knew it was Tate.”
“The IPs they’re pulling are from D.C…. and Atlanta.”
In an instant, this book becomes something else. The center of the American government. The Centers for Disease Control. What was once (in my mind) a fringe right-wing, religious conspiracy is now something so much bigger and so much more terrifying. People in government organizations are behind the attacks??? That can’t possibly be true. What is their gain? What are they doing? Why are they doing this???
And then Georgia makes a decision. At the time, it didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal, but I figured that she thought she could trust Ryman. I assumed that this was her thought process. She had finally reached a breakthrough in this mystery, and now was the time to share this information with Ryman.
Except it wasn’t. In hindsight, reading this section is painful. I don’t know how Georgia though Ryman was going to react. He’s in the midst of running a campaign, at an extremely important event where appearances mean everything, and he hasn’t got the time or motivation to spend it talking about a possible conspiracy. On top of that, her entire approach is sloppy at first, and it exacerbates Ryman’s growing irritation with her behavior since Buffy died.
In short, everything about it is wrong. I know Georgia is right in her heart, and I know she wants the best for Ryman and herself, but the timing of it? I can’t imagine a worse scenario to tell Ryman that his running mate is part of the conspiracy. Like… Georgia, my god, what were you thinking? Ryman’s reaction is so fucking horrifying that it filled me with a sickness in my stomach. He’s so shocked and offended that he nearly raises his hand to hit Georgia. It’s a moment of pure anger and rage from him, and suddenly, Ryman is not the same character he once was. At this point, I had never seen him angry, and now I never wanted to again.
I felt awful reading his response. He kicks the entire team off the premises and threatens to revoke their press passes. Even though he says he’ll come by later to look at proof, I wonder what damage has already been done. I wonder if Georgia has lost her case already. How? How do they recover from this?
The truth had never felt like it was further away, or harder to make sense of. And I had never in my life felt like I was more lost, or more alone.
Sweet fucking hell. And Shaun’s blog entry at the end of this – about the day he and Georgia discovered this existence of their dead brother, Phillip – does not make me feel any better. What have they done? Y’all, I am so fucking nervous.
Mark Links Stuff
– You can follow me on Twitter for any updates and live commentary on upcoming reviews I’m writing.
– You should read this very important post about supporting Mark Does Stuff!
– I have just released Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for $4.99!
– I’ve started reading The Shoebox Project for Mark Reads, the first fanfic “series” I’ve ever covered! Join me!