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Feed / M.T. Anderson.
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Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 October 2002
Gr. 9-12. In this strange, disturbing future world, teens travel to the moon for spring break, live in stacked-up neighborhoods with artificial blue sky, and are bombarded by a constant advertising and media blitz through their feeds. They live with a barrage of greed and superficiality, which only one teen, Violet, tries to fight. Intrigued by Violet's uniqueness, Titus begins a relationship with her in spite of his peers' objections. Yet even he cannot sustain the friendship as her feed malfunctions and she begins to shut down. "They" refuse to repair her feed because she is too perceptive and rebellious. This didactic, also very disturbing book plays on every negative teen stereotype. The young people are bored unthinking pawns of commercialism, speaking only in obnoxious slang, ignoring or disrespecting the few adults around. The future is vapid and without direction. Yet many teens will feel a haunting familiarity about this future universe. As a cautionary tale, the story works; it is less successful as YA literature. ((Reviewed October 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
In this ingenious satire of corporate America and our present-day value system, Titus and his bored suburban friends are connected to one another, to merchandise, entertainment, even School(tm), through the ""feed,"" a brain implant that provides instantaneous communication and information. Inventive details help evoke a world that is chillingly plausible. Like those in a funhouse mirror, the reflections the novel shows us may be ugly and distorted, but they are undeniably ourselves. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #5
M. T. Anderson has created the perfect device for an ingenious satire of corporate America and our present-day value system. Titus and his friends are connected to one another, to merchandise, entertainment, even School(tm), through the "feed," an implant in the brain that provides instantaneous communication and information. As the group arrives on the moon for spring break, they are barraged with banner ads on the feed-images of hotels, restaurants, casinos; the "braggest" styles and places to be. The scene is like a nightmarish cross between Valley Girl and The Matrix: bored suburban teenagers with painfully limited vocabularies seeking new stimuli, oblivious to the vast technological infrastructure that controls their decaying world. While partying on the moon, Titus meets Violet, a girl noticeably different from his friends; that same night they are all "attacked" by a dissident who hacks into their feeds. Anderson wisely refrains from explaining the workings of the feed for the first thirty pages; instead he immerses the reader in Titus's head-a frenzy of sight-, smell-, and sound-bytes-so that when Titus wakes in the hospital with his feed temporarily shut off following the attack, the reader, too, can feel the immense quiet that Titus has never known. "Normal" life on Earth resumes quickly, however, once the feed is reconnected. Anderson's feel for American teens translates easily to this new dystopic arena ("Omigod! Like big thanks to everyone for not telling me that my lesion is like meg completely spreading"). Between chapters, snips from the feed broadcast advertisements but also reveal the state of the world: destruction in Central and South America, hatred for America and threats from the "Global Alliance," whole suburbs vanishing mysteriously. Anderson's hand is light throughout; his evocation of the death of language is as hilarious as it is frightening. "Could we like get a thingie?" the doctor asks while treating Titus. Reading and writing are as outmoded as speech; Titus is perplexed by Violet's use of pen and paper. After all, the feed " knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are." Violet's efforts to enlist Titus in resisting the feed compete with tremendous peer pressure from his friends, who turn the oozing skin lesions they're developing into a fashion rather than consider what might be causing them. In a dramatic outburst (strongly recalling Charlton Heston in Soylent Green) Violet screams, "Look at us! You don't have the feed! You are feed!... You're being eaten!" Yet here there is no climactic uprising, no heroic transformation. Titus is a believable teenager, both intrigued and threatened by Violet's intelligence and new ideas. And when Violet reaches out to Titus while dying from a technical malfunction of the feed, he fails her utterly, heartbreakingly, by closing himself off. Right there, Anderson hands us the worst of ourselves-erecting blinders to the pain and suffering of others in order to protect our own way of life The world of the novel is wholly and convincingly realized: on an Earth that no longer supports life, suburbs are stacked vertically upon one another, each home with its own bubble of sun, sky, and air; Titus and Violet stroll through fields of genetically grown filet mignon, "huge hedges of red," while other life-forms mutate to survive-"slugs so big a toddler could ride them side-saddle." These inventive details help evoke a world that is chillingly plausible. Like those in a funhouse mirror, the reflections the novel shows us may be ugly and distorted, but they are undeniably ourselves. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
PW Reviews 2002 July #4
In this chilling novel, Anderson (Burger Wuss; Thirsty) imagines a society dominated by the feed a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. Teen narrator Titus never questions his world, in which parents select their babies' attributes in the conceptionarium, corporations dominate the information stream, and kids learn to employ the feed more efficiently in School . But everything changes when he and his pals travel to the moon for spring break. There Titus meets home-schooled Violet, who thinks for herself, searches out news and asserts that "Everything we've grown up with the stories on the feed, the games, all of that it's all streamlining our personalities so we're easier to sell to." Without exposition, Anderson deftly combines elements of today's teen scene, including parties and shopping malls, with imaginative and disturbing fantasy twists. "Chats" flow privately from mind to mind; Titus flies an "upcar"; people go "mal" (short for "malfunctioning") in contraband sites that intoxicate by scrambling the feed; and, after Titus and his friends develop lesions, banner ads and sit-coms dub the lesions the newest hot trend, causing one friend to commission a fake one and another to outdo her by getting cuts all over her body. Excerpts from the feed at the close of each chapter demonstrate the blinding barrage of entertainment and temptations for conspicuous consumption. Titus proves a believably flawed hero, and ultimately the novel's greatest strength lies in his denial of and uncomfortable awakening to the truth. This satire offers a thought-provoking and scathing indictment that may prod readers to examine the more sinister possibilities of corporate- and media-dominated culture. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 2004 February #3
In this chilling novel, Anderson imagines a society dominated by the feed-a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. In a starred review, PW called this a "thought-provoking and scathing indictment of corporate-and media-dominated culture." Ages 14-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.