Monday, February 16, 2009

Finished: "Feed" by M.T. Anderson

Finished: Feed by M.T. Anderson, 2002, 0763617261.

Not bad. Not really good. A sort-of science fiction novel that at it's heart is about a failed teen romance.

Set in about 2200 AD or so. Titus and several friends go to the moon for Spring Break. Titus meets Violet, an odd but pretty girl he really likes. They are at a dance club when some guy goes around with a steel stick that zaps the programming in their "feed". Most everyone - at least 78% of the population Violet says - has an implanted computer called a feed. The computer is inplanted at a young age and becomes an integral part of the brain. Violet's feed is damaged by the guy and starts to fail. She will lose feeling in a limb for awhile, lose memories, and it is only a matter of time until the Feed fully fails and kills her.

The feed drives a consumer culture. People can do chat on the feed, get bombarded with advertisements, tells them when to change the part in the hair for when the style changes, make "phone" calls, etc. The world is a mess. The environment is ruined. Forests are gone and parks are knocked down to build air factories. The ocean is polluted, the third world is a cesspool and there is international political upheaval. People get bleeding lesions on their skin. The rich live in suburbs where individual homes are in bubbles with their own climates and artificial rising and setting suns. Anderson adds in all sorts of made-up slang that gets annoying.

The center of the story is the teen romance between rich kid Titus and poor kid Violet. Titus is not too bright and knows it. Violet is poor and did not get her Feed until she was seven. (Only then because her father decided she would be at an extreme disadvantage without one.) She is smart, home-schooled, and rebellious.

Titus and Violet start dating. Violet gets along at first with Titus' friends but then starts to clash. Violet's thinking and behavior change as she realizes she is terminally ill. Titus wants to hang out and have fun; he cannot deal with a dying girlfriend. They split up, she slowly dies, Titus is sad and confused.

Afterthoughts: I was hunting for more information about Anderson with the vague idea of setting up a phone call for the book club tomorrow. Many comments on Feed discuss the impact of technology on life and the possibilities and abuses of technology. I call bullshit and stand by my comments. This is a romantic tale.

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