Gr. 9-12. In this strange, disturbing future world, teens travel to the moon for spring break, live in stacked-up neighborhoods with artificial blue sky, and are bombarded by a constant advertising and media blitz through their feeds. They live with a barrage of greed and superficiality, which only one teen, Violet, tries to fight. Intrigued by Violet's uniqueness, Titus begins a relationship with her in spite of his peers' objections. Yet even he cannot sustain the friendship as her feed malfunctions and she begins to shut down. "They" refuse to repair her feed because she is too perceptive and rebellious. This didactic, also very disturbing book plays on every negative teen stereotype. The young people are bored unthinking pawns of commercialism, speaking only in obnoxious slang, ignoring or disrespecting the few adults around. The future is vapid and without direction. Yet many teens will feel a haunting familiarity about this future universe. As a cautionary tale, the story works; it is less successful as YA literature. ((Reviewed October 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Seeing into the future
M.T. Anderson has come up with a mantra for the 21st century: "I wanted to buy some things, but I didn't know what they were." So says Titus, the protagonist of Feed, a very scary and provocative look at what the future might be like for teenagers.
It's no wonder Titus wants to buy things; he's subject to a never-ending bombardment of advertisements that come through an internet hookup, or feed, hardwired into his brain. His every movement is tracked, his every taste is tallied and pandered to. He can barely read; he can't write, and his only thoughts are of what fun things he and his friends are going to do.
Titus and his pals begin this roller-coaster ride into the future by spending spring break on the moon. While there, he meets Violet, a shy, cerebral young girl who teaches him the importance of fighting against the power of the intrusive feed. Shortly after they meet, Titus and his friends are the victims of a creepy stranger's "terrorist" attack, the consequences of which affect all their lives, one of them tragically.
It's exhilarating to decipher Anderson's futuristic adolescent slang, but his story is a serious one. He has an uncanny gift for depicting how teenagers see the world. The way in which he envisions their future lifestyle feels believable. With a manipulative corporate monster that puts a trademark on both school and the weather, trips to the beach in protective suits and mysterious lesions that become fashion accessories, Titus and Violet's world seems ominously possible.
Feed is a cautionary tale for young people, but be warned, parentsthis is a book for young adults. Feed has profanity, drinking and drug use, as well as sexual situations. You might want to read it yourself before passing it on to your youngster. It's certainly worth your time.
James Neal Webb has raised two teenagers. Copyright 2002 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews
In this ingenious satire of corporate America and our present-day value system, Titus and his bored suburban friends are connected to one another, to merchandise, entertainment, even School(tm), through the ""feed,"" a brain implant that provides instantaneous communication and information. Inventive details help evoke a world that is chillingly plausible. Like those in a funhouse mirror, the reflections the novel shows us may be ugly and distorted, but they are undeniably ourselves. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
M. T. Anderson has created the perfect device for an ingenious satire of corporate America and our present-day value system. Titus and his friends are connected to one another, to merchandise, entertainment, even School(tm), through the "feed," an implant in the brain that provides instantaneous communication and information. As the group arrives on the moon for spring break, they are barraged with banner ads on the feed-images of hotels, restaurants, casinos; the "braggest" styles and places to be. The scene is like a nightmarish cross between Valley Girl and The Matrix: bored suburban teenagers with painfully limited vocabularies seeking new stimuli, oblivious to the vast technological infrastructure that controls their decaying world. While partying on the moon, Titus meets Violet, a girl noticeably different from his friends; that same night they are all "attacked" by a dissident who hacks into their feeds. Anderson wisely refrains from explaining the workings of the feed for the first thirty pages; instead he immerses the reader in Titus's head-a frenzy of sight-, smell-, and sound-bytes-so that when Titus wakes in the hospital with his feed temporarily shut off following the attack, the reader, too, can feel the immense quiet that Titus has never known. "Normal" life on Earth resumes quickly, however, once the feed is reconnected. Anderson's feel for American teens translates easily to this new dystopic arena ("Omigod! Like big thanks to everyone for not telling me that my lesion is like meg completely spreading"). Between chapters, snips from the feed broadcast advertisements but also reveal the state of the world: destruction in Central and South America, hatred for America and threats from the "Global Alliance," whole suburbs vanishing mysteriously. Anderson's hand is light throughout; his evocation of the death of language is as hilarious as it is frightening. "Could we like get a thingie?" the doctor asks while treating Titus. Reading and writing are as outmoded as speech; Titus is perplexed by Violet's use of pen and paper. After all, the feed " knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are." Violet's efforts to enlist Titus in resisting the feed compete with tremendous peer pressure from his friends, who turn the oozing skin lesions they're developing into a fashion rather than consider what might be causing them. In a dramatic outburst (strongly recalling Charlton Heston in Soylent Green) Violet screams, "Look at us! You don't have the feed! You are feed!... You're being eaten!" Yet here there is no climactic uprising, no heroic transformation. Titus is a believable teenager, both intrigued and threatened by Violet's intelligence and new ideas. And when Violet reaches out to Titus while dying from a technical malfunction of the feed, he fails her utterly, heartbreakingly, by closing himself off. Right there, Anderson hands us the worst of ourselves-erecting blinders to the pain and suffering of others in order to protect our own way of life The world of the novel is wholly and convincingly realized: on an Earth that no longer supports life, suburbs are stacked vertically upon one another, each home with its own bubble of sun, sky, and air; Titus and Violet stroll through fields of genetically grown filet mignon, "huge hedges of red," while other life-forms mutate to survive-"slugs so big a toddler could ride them side-saddle." These inventive details help evoke a world that is chillingly plausible. Like those in a funhouse mirror, the reflections the novel shows us may be ugly and distorted, but they are undeniably ourselves. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
"I don't know when they first had feeds. Like maybe, fifty or a hundred years ago. Before than, they had to use their hands and their eyes. Computers were all 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." Titus and his friends have grown up on the feed-connected on a 24-hour basis through brain implants to a vast computer network, they have become their medium. "The braggest thing about the feed . . . is that it knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are." Titus is a master at navigating this world where to consume is to live, but when he meets Violet, a distinctly unusual girl whose philology-professor father has chosen to homeschool her instead of sending her to School(tm), he begins, very tentatively and imperfectly, to question this equation. Thrown together when their feeds are hacked at a party and they are temporarily disconnected, their very hesitant romance is played out against the backdrop of an utterly hedonistic world of trend and acquisition, a world only momentarily disturbed by the news reports of environmental waste and a global alliance of have-not nations against the obliviously consuming US. Anderson (Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, 2001, etc.) has crafted a wickedly clever narrative in which Titus's voice takes on perfectly the speech patterns of today's more vapid teens (" 'Oh, unit,' I was like, 'is this malfunction?' "). When Violet's feed begins to fail, and with it all her life functions, she decides to rebel against all that the feed stands for-the degradation of language, the self-absorption, the leaching of all culture and independent thought from the world-and Titus must make his choice. The crystalline realization of this wildly dystopic future carries in it obvious and enormous implications for today's readers-satire at its finest. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
In this chilling novel, Anderson imagines a society dominated by the feed-a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. In a starred review, PW called this a "thought-provoking and scathing indictment of corporate-and media-dominated culture." Ages 14-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up-For Titus and his teenaged friends, having transmitters implanted in their heads is as normal as going to the moon or Mars on vacation or as common as the lesions that have begun to appear on their bodies. Everyone's "feed" tells them everything they need to know-there's no need to read or write. All purchases are deducted from the credit account that's part of the feed. Talking out loud is rare because everyone "chats" over the feednets. Then Titus and his friends meet a girl named Violet at a party on the moon, and a hacker attacks them and damages their feeds. Everyone is OK except for Violet, who is told in secret that hers is so damaged that she is going to die. Unlike other teens, she is homeschooled and cares about world events. She's not afraid to question things and is determined to fight the feed. Anderson gives his characters a unique language that teens will relate to, but much of it is raw and crude. Young people will also appreciate the consumeristic lifestyle and television shows that are satirized in the book. Violet and her father are the only truly sympathetic characters. The other teens are portrayed as thoughtless, selfish, and not always likable. Only Titus learns anything from his mistakes and tries to be a little less self-centered. A gripping, intriguing, and unique cautionary novel.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
This powerful dystopian novel by the author of Burger Wuss (Candlewick, 1999/VOYA December 1999) reads like a twenty-first-century cross between Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange. The Earth's environment is collapsing and everyone with enough money lives in a sealed ecosystem, yet Americans continue their rampant consumerism. Their selfish impulses are reinforced by the Feed, a communications system installed in most children's heads at birth. The Feed educates and entertains, but mostly it is like having the Shopping Channel going on in one's head all the time. Titus is a typical product of his environment, hyperactive, shallow, obsessed with buying whatever is in at the moment. Then he meets Violet and his world changes. Violet also has the Feed, but did not receive it at birth. She has been homeschooled by her eccentric father. Less obsessed than other kids with commercialism, Violet is interested in ideas. At a club on the Moon shortly after they meet, Titus and Violet have their Feeds hacked by an anti-Feed protester. Titus soon recovers, but Violet is less fortunate. Her Feed gradually breaks down. She slowly loses control of her body, and death seems imminent. Although set in the future, Anderson's novel is a stunning indictment of contemporary America and its ever-increasing obsession with consumerism even in the face of impending environmental collapse. Narrated by Titus in a sometimes obscene, sometimes almost incoherent future slang designed to highlight the emptiness his life, the novel is both intense and grim. It should, however, appeal strongly to mature and thoughtful readers who care about the future of their world.-Michael Levy. 5Q 3P J S Copyright 2002 Voya Reviews