Feed by M.T. Anderson
I read Feed by M.T. Anderson when it first came out in 2002 and the thing I remember the most about the experience is that I didn’t trust my initial reaction to it. My initial reaction? Wow. Then I asked myself, well, why “Wow?” I decided that I felt “wow” because while I had read a few dystopia books, they had all been based on the idea that an evil dictatorship had taken over a body of people. I had never read anything in which people destroyed the world through consumerism. This concept rang much more true for me than the dictatorship concepts I was familiar with. However, I discredited my opinion for two reasons:
1. I had never heard of this book, or the author. I picked it up by accident because it was shelved right next to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than the fact that the spine said “Anderson” and I bought it because I thought it was hers. What an ironic way to pick up a book about a consumerism induced dystopia! Reason
#2: It was Y.A. Mind you, this was 11 years ago. Y.A. didn’t have the reputation then that it does now, and moreover, I didn’t have the relationship with it that I do now. In other words, I didn’t trust that this was a good book because it was written by a Y.A. author that I had never heard of before. How 11 years can change things! If I encountered a gem of a Y.A. from an unknown author today I would be singing its praises from the rooftops! (insert visual of Bert dancing on chimneys here).
In a book purge craze a few years ago, I got rid of my copy. A few days ago, I found a paperback copy at a library sale. I bought it for one dollar, and spent an evening realizing that my initial reaction still rang true for me.
In this pre-dystopian story, everyone has a feed inserted into their brains. The feed is basically what we now know as a smartphone, only even more sophisticated. In this story, we explore a futuristic, corporate run, pre-apocalyptic America through a relationship between teens Titus and Violet.
In the Classroom
This book is going in my classroom library. There is some swearing in it, so some schools may object to it, but the subject matter is so relevant that I feel I must include it. I am itching to get it in the hangs of a teenager so I can compare his/her reaction to it with mine. A great deal has changed with technology in the last 11 years. Eleven years ago, my peers and I (and pretty much the entire American adult populations, uber-techs not included) were turning in our pagers and buying our first cell phones. Now, cell phones do- well, we all know what cell phones can do now. They aren’t even “cell phones” anymore- they are “smart” phones. Will they share the same opinion that I have- that we are nearly already living in this terrifying world?