FEED, by M.T. Anderson, is one of those books that has voice galore.  It had so much voice, it was kind of hard to read.  In fact, as one point in the first forty pages, I got so frustrated with it, I put the book down and didn’t know if I would pick it back up.

This is a book that’s told from the first person point of view of a teenager who is connected to internet feed.  The feed is yelling at him all the time: ads, news stories, TV shows, games.  It was like reading a book with a stereo blaring in the background.  To add to this kind of distracted feel, Titus, the point of view character, thinks in sentence fragments and run-on sentences.  Not all the time.  The author varies the sentence length and type enough to not be tedious.  Still, it gives the reader the sense that the main character’s thoughts are all over the place, which, of course, they are.

To make things even more complicated, the teen slang is logical but not familiar.  They use the term “Unit” like “Dude”.  Things are “null” instead of “lame”. When something is very uncomfortable or very expensive, it’s “meg” uncomfortable or “meg” expensive.  Also, because we’re in a future setting, there are going to be some things that are completely new to the reader.  For example, they fly upcars through tubes.  It’s not the biggest stretch a writer ever asked a reader to make, but it does take more work than imagining someone in a car driving down the street.  Layered on top of that is the world-building of a decimated Earth, lifeless oceans, and an outdoors so artificial that the clouds have to be manufactured.  And then, the experience of being a person living in this environment with a constant feed of information running through you head…well, this is active readership.  You’ve got to work at this.

And here’s the brilliant thing: about forty pages in, you get a breather.

When Titus and his friends get hacked, their feed gets blocked for a while. For about thirty pages things slow down, back story is filled in, and writing style gets a little easier to read.  It’s here that you really start to like Titus.  You get the sense that there’s more to him than just the superficial, fad-driven consumerism that his friends embody.  And by the time the feed is back up and running, the author has you hooked.  You like him.  You like Violet and you’re rooting for them as a couple.  So you deal with the frenetic frenzy that is the writing style of FEED.

So that’s FEED by M.T. Anderson.  I think my next book is going to be a little different.  I’d like to take a look at SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson.  It’s not a fantasy; it’s an issue book.  I left this SPEAK wishing that I could write a book this amazing.  So, until then…

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