- Paperback: 299 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 17, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763662623
- ISBN-13: 978-0763662622
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (515 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Feed Paperback – July 17, 2012
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This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people's brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment--even on trips to Mars and the moon--and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy.
Anderson gives us this world through the voice of a boy who, like everyone around him, is almost completely inarticulate, whose vocabulary, in a dead-on parody of the worst teenspeak, depends heavily on three words: "like," "thing," and the second most common English obscenity. He's even made this vapid kid a bit sympathetic, as a product of his society who dimly knows something is missing in his head. The details are bitterly funny--the idiotic but wildly popular sitcom called "Oh? Wow! Thing!", the girls who have to retire to the ladies room a couple of times an evening because hairstyles have changed, the hideous lesions on everyone that are not only accepted, but turned into a fashion statement. And the ultimate awfulness is that when we finally meet the boy's parents, they are just as inarticulate and empty-headed as he is, and their solution to their son's problem is to buy him an expensive car.
Although there is a danger that at first teens may see the idea of brain-computers as cool, ultimately they will recognize this as a fascinating novel that says something important about their world. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this chilling novel, Anderson (Burger Wuss; Thirsty) imagines a society dominated by the feed a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. Teen narrator Titus never questions his world, in which parents select their babies' attributes in the conceptionarium, corporations dominate the information stream, and kids learn to employ the feed more efficiently in School. But everything changes when he and his pals travel to the moon for spring break. There Titus meets home-schooled Violet, who thinks for herself, searches out news and asserts that "Everything we've grown up with the stories on the feed, the games, all of that it's all streamlining our personalities so we're easier to sell to." Without exposition, Anderson deftly combines elements of today's teen scene, including parties and shopping malls, with imaginative and disturbing fantasy twists. "Chats" flow privately from mind to mind; Titus flies an "upcar"; people go "mal" (short for "malfunctioning") in contraband sites that intoxicate by scrambling the feed; and, after Titus and his friends develop lesions, banner ads and sit-coms dub the lesions the newest hot trend, causing one friend to commission a fake one and another to outdo her by getting cuts all over her body. Excerpts from the feed at the close of each chapter demonstrate the blinding barrage of entertainment and temptations for conspicuous consumption. Titus proves a believably flawed hero, and ultimately the novel's greatest strength lies in his denial of and uncomfortable awakening to the truth. This satire offers a thought-provoking and scathing indictment that may prod readers to examine the more sinister possibilities of corporate- and media-dominated culture. Ages 14-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A brief quip on Anderson – he was born and raised in Massachusetts and lives there today. He has been a radio DJ and a college professor and currently sits on the board of Vermont College of Fine Arts and National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance. Anderson has published over a dozen books since 1997.
Feed takes place in the future…a future that isn’t too far away. All-powerful American corporations are obsessed with controlling consumerism, by any means necessary and at the expense of everything else. The planet is ecologically devastated, seemingly beyond repair, the mass production of goods too much for the planet to continue to handle.
Despite environmental risks and pleas from world’s leaders, American corporations continue to encourage consumerism. 73% of American citizens are connected to the feednet, a digital network accessible via an implant in the brain called a feed. The feed gives consumers direct access to digital information, instant purchasing, and if shared, memories of others. In return, consumer profiles are created for each individual, allowing the feed to cater its advertising to the needs of that individual.
Sounds a lot like the targeting advertising on desktop and mobile devices today, huh?
What’s impressive is that Anderson wrote this story back in 2002, before Facebook’s infamous newsfeed and before tech companies had enough consumer data to create the algorithms of today that make ad tech intelligent. Some scifi geeks (me included) like to say that many a scifi idea has inspired many an inventor, and maybe Feed is one of them. Google revolutionized modern intellectualism by making information so easily accessible, yes, but when Feed was published, online advertising was NOTHING like what we see today…or in what Anderson depicted. That alone, fascinated me enough to keep reading.
The story follows Titus and Violet, a teenage couple that meet, by accident, on the Moon during spring break. They are caught in the crossfire of a feed hack and wake up in a hospital. Their feeds have been shutdown for repair and their minds are quiet, forcing them to communicate the old fashioned way, without private feed chats (m-chatting). Titus’s feed was installed when he was an infant, but Violet’s wasn’t installed until age 7. Unlike any of his other friends, Violet questions the feed, the government, and their way of life. Refusing to allow the government to categorize her based on her data, she decides to make it her mission to confuse her feed. Titus, in love, tags along.
I’ll stop there before I start to give too much away…but if I haven’t made it clear yet, READ THIS BOOK! As far as anti-consumerism books, this one is tops….I think it’s almost as good as Fight Club. Where Fight Club takes place in present day, Feed’s setting is more technologically advanced, like Minority Report. If you like either of those stories, you’ll like Feed, guaranteed.
I despised reading this book. Each chapter was akin to pulling teeth, and the moronic characters made my skin crawl in the worse way possible. I wanted nothing more than to read the last page and be done with it, never to think of it again. The exact opposite occurred. The meaning began seeping into my head hours, days, weeks after I finished reading. My burning hate for this novel dwindled to a mild dislike to passing indifference and finally to pure enjoyment and appreciation.
The prose is purposefully painful to read, and for this fact, it's wonderful. Anderson crafts his characters to be the worse humans possible at no fault of their own--they are oppressed under a capitalist system that has destroyed the environment and sucked away any intelligence they may have had. The opening section bombards the reader with fabricated slang, but as the novel progression, the slang becomes less distracting as you, the reader, becomes acquainted with the feed.
"Feed" is different from other dystopian young adult novels out there, and it's unfair to compare it to others. Anderson doesn't want to give us strong characters we can relate to, and he doesn't want us to think everything will be fine in the end. This novel is a warning. We have to stop being distracted and controlled by media and electronics and focus on fixing the issue that will eventually lead to humanity's demise down the road. The ultimate message of Feed? Once you've reached a certain point, there is no hope; there is no turning back.
"Everything must go."
The main character, Titus, is just a bit brighter than his friends, which isn't saying much; he seems to realize there should be something more to their lives. The group goes to the moon for spring break & he finds himself attracted to Violet, as there's something out of the ordinary about her.
Being an Internet junkie myself, I found this story compelling & thought-provoking, touching, yet darkly amusing at times. I've been impressed by the 3 novels I've read by M.T. Anderson so far (the lightweight Whales on Stilts, read in 2005 and the more complex Octavian Pox read earlier this year) & will be on the lookout for more.
Current thoughts - Jan 2012 (first read Mar 2007)
Seems semi-ironic that I read an electronic copy of this novel - tho it was requested vs the "get it whether you want it or not" aspect of The Feed. The future presented in this novel seems even more possible than it did 5 years ago - with Gmail, Google Docs & such serving up targeted ads alongside your own content; and virtual ads displayed during sports broadcasts... maybe it's just a matter of time. I'd love to see this as recommended/required reading in middle & high schools - makes me (almost) want to get back to teaching.
Titus - talking about the pre-Feed world "Computers were outside the body, they carried them around outside of them, in their hands, like if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe."