Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Feed

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
HarperCollins Publishers: 3/13/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062651853

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo is a very highly recommended postapocalyptic dystopian debut thriller that begs the question: How would you live without technology?

Everyone is connected to the Feed. It is an implant, directly to the brain, that allows instantaneous access to... everything. Everyone is on, all the time, and able to follow all interaction, emotions, images, thoughts, and linked to all information and global events. There is no need to read - or even talk. It is "an internal global cityscape where everyone lives close by." Tom and Kate use the Feed, but Tom has resisted the addiction to it and insists that he and Kate live life slow sometimes, quiet, no Feed. It is a healthy thing to do - even though Tom's father is the one who invented it. When the Feed suddenly collapses, the collapse marks the end of modern civilization too. When the Feed stopped, most people died too, unable to function or help themselves. The end was facilitated further because something or someone was hacking people while they slept, and then had the taken-over people kill others.

Now, six years in the future, it is a dangerous world where you have to watch each other when sleeping to make sure that your mind is not taken over. People have to live by scavenging and trying to figure out how to survive and rebuild a world when they have no practical experience to accomplish this. They can look for books, which are rare, but can they read them? Tom and Kate have managed to survive in a small group, but when their daughter, Bea, is kidnapped they need to try and find her in a dangerous world without the help of technology.

Going from a world where your every thought and emotion can be shared instantaneously with millions of other people, to a society where you have to speak and explain yourself in order to be understood is captured by the reticence of his characters to say what they are thinking in this changed Feed-free world. The characters may seem to be under-developed, but I thought it was done purposefully to mirror the unconnected world, where you can't trust people to sleep without watching them. And then you have to kill them if they show signs of being taken over.

I enjoyed The Feed immensely. The writing is excellent and the tone is very apropos for the subject matter. The reluctance to share inner thoughts with others is well established at the beginning, when you didn't need to say anything, your thoughts were automatically known. These people are all still learning to express themselves. The pace is slow as the story begins to unfold and we learn what the new world is like. When Kate and Tom must travel along dangerous paths to try and find their daughter, the pace and tension increase. Then The Feed becomes the story of a quest, with a journey and lessons learned. They meet various characters along the way. They face dangers. They overcome adversity. They set a goal. There are a couple of startling developments in the narrative that blindsided me and are both game changers. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

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