Mira Grant’s 2010 hit Feed blends the world of American politics with life post-zombie rising. Interesting premise , however in execution I cannot agree with the author’s legions of fans. I will state the Grant’s “worldbuilding” is extensive and thoroughly detailed. From this Feed offers a vividly realistic picture of American society existing after the “rising” of zombies nearly decimates mankind. Grant does give a wonderfully reasonable explanation of the development of zombie-ism, which is not always a luxury given to the genre. Through the main narrator, Georgia “George” Mason explains to the reader, the zombie take over was really just a dreadful mistake in medical science. 20 years prior, after successfully curing cancer, medically managed viruses blended and mutated to form the Kellis-Amberlee strain. KA as it is commonly referred spread quickly throughout the globe, infecting the entire population. Uncommon in the genre, this means that everyone of Grant’s new world is half way to zombie, and that the full breakout or ‘amplification’ of the virus will occur to anyone when their body is harmed/dead. I like this twist in the zombie-by-virus trope, the inevitability of the terror makes escape truly impossible. Unfortunately, this is where originality begins to wane.
Grant’s novel relies so heavily on detailed and well researched technical information regarding pathology that the reader may forget to examine the characters that inhabit the novel. Amidst the virologist jargon and quarantine protocols, George, Shaun and Georgette/Buffy are terribly weak characters. Starting with their names, the feminized George (for father of zombie movies George A. Romero) and Shaun of the Dead references show the author’s habitual spoon-feeding of pop-culture references to her readers. These references become nauseatingly obvious, almost pandering. These characters follow the same uninspired stock-style flatness that many sci-fi/speculative fiction follows: strong, no nonsense females who just can’t figure out how to dress like a lady, the “kid idiot brother”, and the ditzy blonde that really knows how to rewire her monitors. Coupled with cliche statements, this trio forces Grant’s originality to falter.
In a genre dominated by male authorship, I truly wanted to enjoy and praise this series. However, I just can’t get past it’s first instalment. As an area of interest, I was impressed by the pathology discussions and the effect zombification had on public policy, yet Grant didn’t make a meal out of these tidbits. Her decision to focus on the technicalities and moral superiorities of bloggers in a post-media world lost me quite early.