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.
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