In the near future scientists attempt to cure cancer and the common cold using genetically engineered viruses. They succeed in curing both diseases but with one small side effect: zombies. Feed is not a story about the zombie apocalypse. Instead it is a political thriller which takes place twenty years after the plague which wiped out most of humanity. It is not the only book to skip the initial catastrophe and focus on what happened afterwards (The Walking Dead and the Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry spring to mind), but the story contains many original elements.
Even readers who don't like zombie stories may enjoy this book since it contains surprisingly little gore for the subject matter and is more about the characters' relationships with each other than the undead. However, it will particularly appeal to fans of the genre, with references such as the main characters being named Shaun (Of the Dead), George (Romero) and Buffy ("I'm cute, blonde and living in a world full of zombies. What do you think I should call myself?").
Society was not completely destroyed by zombies but it has been irrevocably changed. People are, understandably, afraid to go outside or gather together in large numbers. They live in heavily fortified buildings with high tech security systems that require anyone entering to give a clean blood sample before being granted entry. Traditional broadcasters are no longer trusted since they initially tried to suppress news of the plague, so people look to bloggers for their news and entertainment.
Two American siblings, Shaun and Georgia (George) Mason, and their friend Buffy run a website called After the End Times. Buffy writes fiction and poetry and handles the site's technical side. George is a "newsie", or gonzo journalist. Shaun is an "Irwin", happy to take stupid risks such as poking a zombie with a stick all in the name of ratings. The trio are overjoyed when they are chosen to accompany a presidential candidate on his campaign trail. But the assignment proves much more dangerous than they anticipated and it soon becomes clear that a sinister conspiracy lurks behind a recent outbreak. As is so often the case in zombie survival stories, the real danger comes from other humans.
Feed is an exciting read and easy to finish quickly despite being quite a hefty 600 pages. The story is detailed and the young bloggers' fight to survive and get their story out to the public is inspiring. I recommend it for zombie fans, but also for people who just like a gripping yarn.
Feed is the first book of the Newsflesh Trilogy. The second two books in the series, Deadline and Blackout are available now online and in stores.