Feed, by M.T. Anderson, left me thinking about it for months and I even forced a friend to listen to the audiobook. I needed to share with someone this inexplicable, yet totally real, world Anderson creates in Feed. This review is long overdue. I read this–actually I listened to the audio version of this book quite a while back, perhaps a few months ago. There is something about this book that intrigued, frightened, and repulsed me–but I loved it. My friend enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I. He just couldn’t find the main character, Titus, in any way likeable. Titus is not likeable. He is a quintessential teenager in a future that is dominated by consumerism and instant gratification. He is not meant to be likeable. I look back on my teen years and at times I find myself unlikeable. The choices/decisions I made that were usually driven by a hormonal and insecure ego led to some ridiculous moments. I look back and shrug my shoulders, chalking it up to my age, but when I am forced to relive teenage years through Titus it is almost unbearable. He is utterly self-centered! But again, he is also intriguing. He develops a relationship with Violet, a socially aware teenage girl who contributes to Titus’ development as a character. His fascination with her and her fascination with him is what drives this book. You love her. She forces Titus to confront issues of consumerism, the deteriorating natural world, and the global impact of technology on society in the most pleasantly benign manner. She does not preach at Titus, but wholeheartedly shares her concerns as with a lover or an intimate friend.
Anderson never specifies how far in the future the novel takes place, but it is clearly the Future with a capital “F.” The first scene features Titus and his pals taking a trip to the moon as if it were the same as going to the mall. The slightly annoying vocabulary of these futuristic teens captures the age perfectly. In Anderson’s Future, most humans are implanted with a “feednet” that delivers pop-up like advertisements directly to your brain the minute you step into a store or look at a billboard. Imagine walking around and you happen to catch a glimpse of an empty Starbucks cup, immediately the Feed will shoot a verbal advertising assault to your mind. It’s like having radio commercials broadcasting directly into your brain. Corporations are capable of monitoring what your interests are directly from your brain waves. It is kind of creepy. Privacy is non-existent.
The thing that makes this young adult Sci-Fi novel postmodern is its ability to create a world where language has become stupified by the future and by technology. Titus is unable to write because all messages are sent through the mind, like a telepathic instant messenger. The novel focuses on an uneasiness and suspicion towards the future, as well as the past. The short snippets of the Feed disorient the reader at times, always reminding the reader of the constant pro-consumerism intrusion into the internal self. Interiority is being exploited. The result of such a world leaves humans only able to ingest information but never digest, resulting in a shallow humanity and utterly vacuous teenagers. The question remains–Is there redemption for Titus?
Did I mention I kind of love this book?
Age Group: 16 and up (Contains bad language and teenagers being teenagers)
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Themes: Science Fiction, dystopian, social issues, postmodernism
Publisher: Candlewick Press