Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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Off The Shelf

by Mira Grant

Review by Larissa March

You got your zombies into my politics!
You got your politics into my zombies!
(It’s delicious, delicious!)

Ahem. Slightly more seriously, Feed is the first book from Mira Grant (actually the third to hit the shelves from Seanan McGuire, who needed a pseudonym to differentiate these books from her fantasy series with October Daye) and it’s a great start for a trilogy.

Georgia and Shaun Mason (yeah, you know the names were chosen on purpose) are beta level bloggers who just need the right break to step up to the big leagues and start their own site. An invitation to embed themselves in Senator Ryman’s presidential campaign is just the ticket, until the story turns into a scoop too hot to handle. Zombies have been a fact of life since the Kellis-Amberlee virus infected every mammal over 40 pounds twenty years ago, causing the Rising, and now someone is trying to use the virus, and the zombies, for political assassination!

Mira’s world building is excellent, and she extrapolates the post-virus society in gruesome detail. During the initial outbreak bloggers, with fewer editorial restraints and less to lose, were the main source of news and tips gleaned from George Romero movies on how to stay alive while mainstream media dismissed reports of zombies and laughed, leading to a huge surge in respectability for bloggers. Since the virus is ubiquitous in dormant form, then death by any cause will bring on amplification and rising, but of course it’s not so simple. Spontaneous conversion can occur, as can odd partial conditions like Retinal K-A (a condition where the virus presents as active in the eyes, causing permanent dilation of the pupil). Naturally, a zombie bite is death but fear is so pervasive that blood tests are obsessively repetitive anywhere people may contact each other. A whole generation is growing up with a paranoia of groups of more than 15 and a strong inclination to stay inside, where it’s safe. Well, safer.

If you want a simple, standard zombie story where you know who’s going to live and who’s going to die, and why, then this is not the book for you. If you want a political potboiler without humor or surprises, this is not the book for you.

If you want a vividly written science-fiction novel in a painstakingly detailed dystopian world about strong, snarky characters who will make you care desperately about them and keep you from putting the damn book down when your lunch break is over, well, then I can tell you from experience that this is the book for you.

Damn you, Mira. That was AWESOME.

Feed is published by Orbit Books. You can find more information about Mira Grant at her website, http://www.miragrant.com/

© 2010 by Larissa March

Larissa March is a New Englander who has been sucessfully transplanted to Georgia, where she has put down roots with her husband, two cats, and an improbable number of books.

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