This is now one of my all time favourite books. I was almost physically incapable of putting it down this weekend, to the chagrin of anyone who wanted to have a conversation with me. Grant has written a dystopian future zombie sci-fi thriller that’s so good it’s not gripping. It’s throttling. Every chapter was better than the last. The brother-sister team she builds the story around are the sort of characters that get made into action figures. I want someone to make this book into a movie. And then I want them to make the rest of the series into more movies. And then make them into extended cut DVDs so I can buy the box set and watch them until I wear that shiny coating off the disc. That’s assuming the rest of the series is only as good as Feed was, and Grant didn’t get even better writing the rest of it. If she has I may have to see about having the books surgically implanted into my brain, or something.
At least, the parts of them that aren’t already. Gripping books have that danger. If you can’t look away, you can’t blink at the tragic, bloody parts. There are a lot of deaths in this book. Zombies show up a lot, so there are guns and gunshot wounds and murder. Like many popular zombie stories, the apocalypse is caused by a virus. Anyone can catch a virus, and in Grant’s world anyone does. Youth is no protection. I’m grateful there are only casual mentions, background details filling in the twenty years between the outbreak and the story’s present. But if you’re sensitive to that at all, there are going to be hard parts. I guess it’s all part of writing a believable, enthralling story. On top of that, Grant uses the plot and the world she’s constructed to get you to think about some hard questions: what sacrifices to your freedom are you willing to make to guarantee your safety? How much does the environment you live in shape your opinions on social issues? Do people have a right to the truth about things that could endanger them? When do laws to contain, control and respond to disasters cross the line separating reasonable from paranoid? If you can sacrifice one person to save a country, do you? If your answer to that question is yes, at what number does it change to no? Who should have the power to make those choices? What happens when someone disagrees with your answers?
Is it a privilege to live in a world where you don’t have to worry about the answers to those questions? Or is it naive to think that anyone lives in that world? It’s been a long time since we lived in the kind of world where a disaster in one country doesn’t reverberate globally. Where an outbreak in…say, Africa, couldn’t possibly cross a couple oceans. Part of being a mature adult involves recognizing our interconnectedness. Our responsibility to each other. And choosing leaders who respect and reflect that we are all connected, and that if one of us goes down, all of us will. We do not have infinite lives. Let’s not screw this up.