Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #15. This satirical novel, however old it may be, shows a message which is more and more relevant to today’s society.
You know what’s the first word that I would use to describe Feed? Depressing. It’s as depressing as all nine hells. And this is the thing which makes this book one of the best and most interesting reads which I have had the pleasure to experience. Set in the far future where the norm of computing is to have a chip implanted into your head which allows you to instantly access all of the internet without moving a muscle, Feed explores what happens when this is turned off. And for any member of this generation, that concept alone is what makes this book so terrifying and sad.
Now, I’m no tech-head. I have outdated technology at best, and while I use it probably more than is healthy I hardly take full advantage of it. As I’ve said, I don’t do Facebook and have an email address, a mobile chat client and this blog as far as my social media goes. Yet that doesn’t stop me from being horrified and spiteful if someone removes something as small as a readily-available source of reasonable-speed internet. And since the computers in Feed are wired to your brains, [turning them off can have serious repercussions for a person’s nervous system and normal brain function]. And I thought I was bad without internet.
But the biggest thing which I would say shook me about Feed is the style. It is instantly recognisable as a (better spelt) version of how a teenager would speak to you if they have been living their life constantly chatting to their friends online. They all speak, like, meg funny with their words in wrong places and use small words with not many syllables and have sentences which aren’t broken up right and stuff.
And this is told to you, dictated for the entire book by the main character (whose name shows up once in the middle of the book and is never seen again, so from here on shall not be named as I actually don’t remember what it is), all in the style of a far-future teen. And it’s not just how he speaks in his head. Everyone in the book speaks like that. It’s brutally consistent, and this makes it all the more soul-crushing when you realise these people, with all the technology one could wish for, are still people, with the same problems we have.
You could substitute [Violet slowly losing mental faculties as her feed stops working, and eventually becoming a vegetable] with a story of a person with early-onset dementia losing their memories and eventually dying, and you would still have this powerful feeling of helpless loss. But this is where the two stories would split, as though they both show the character’s best and worst sides, Feed shows how technology marching on will eventually consume us. It shows how if we progress to the point where people have to be connected to live and die if their link to the digital world is cut, what happens to those left behind won’t even matter to those privileged few who still live in cyberspace. And this, dear readers, terrifies me.
Feed was published in 2002 by Candlewick. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear