Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002. $16.99, 240 pages.
Link to Author’s Website: http://mt-anderson.com/
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What if technology could tell you everything you ever wanted or needed before you even knew you wanted or needed it?
Titus and his friends are ordinary teens on spring break to the moon. They are constantly inundated with information from their “feeds,” devices implanted into their brains that customizes and personalizes information about anything from music to fashion to food to international news. Using their feeds, Titus and his friends can even send each other chats and do not have to communicate using speech! Spring break is rather disappointing for Titus until he meets Violet, a girl unlike any he has ever known before. Her father teaches dead languages and wears an outdated feed, she has not always had a feed, she thinks and talks about things other than what the feeds tells them, she even resists the feed and practices delayed gratification, unheard of in their society of instantaneous purchase and consumption. While Titus enjoys this novelty, Violet also enjoys being a “normal” teenager, going to parties and on dates with Titus, who fills the role of the boyfriend she met on spring break. A wrench is thrown in their romance when they are hacked at a club and their feeds disabled. Titus soon resumes life as normal, but the effects of the hack are more severe for Violet. Titus is forced to face the harsh reality of life where customer service doesn’t save the day, where buying a thousand pairs of pants can’t fix all problems, where sickness is debilitating, and where the feed does not overcome all.
In a digital world where technology is ever present, this book foreshadowed the dangers of over-reliance and overindulgence with technology. The writing style is used to symbolize the breakdown of relationships and communication by the difficulty with physical speech. Statements end with question marks, implying that they are questioning their own thoughts. Blocks of speech longer than one sentence that occur outside of the chat are conveyed with a few key phrases between “da da da.” Characters seem to have a hard time finding words to say, using placeholders like “like,” “uh,” and “things” while they are searching for the right words, which, ironically, are often suggested by the feed. The detachment of the characters is terrifying but believable. In a world that is increasingly plugged in and obsessed with possession, the plot is also quite viable. This chilling portrayal of a future society is no doubt why it was nominated for so many awards.
- Popularity: 3
- Quality: 4
Genre and Subgenre: science fiction, sociological science fiction
Appeal Factors: technology, relationships, being constantly plugged in
Readalike Titles or Authors:
- Orleans by Sherri Smith
- Proxy by Alex London
Awards Won and Book Lists:
- National Book Award finalist
- Boston Globe Horn Book Award honor
- Description of what the teens experience through their feeds
- The novelty of a tree in the park
- The crash after the virus
Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:
- How has Titus changed by the end of the novel?
- Is there a danger of overpersonalization of technology?
- Was it worth it for Violet to get the feed to fit in?
Why I Chose This:
I chose this book because of the idea of constantly being plugged in. I thought that this is quite relevant to the youth of today. It also had interesting commentary on consumerism, social class, and the control of the flow of information.