Sunday, August 29, 2010

Feed Review

Book Talk: Titus is an average American teen:  he chats with his friends on the internet, he tries to pick up girls, he goes to parties and tries to sneak into 21 and up clubs, he vacations on the moon, and he has a feed implanted in his body that allows his mind constant access to the internet and allows corporations constant access to his mind.  You know, just a typical teen.  But one day he meets a girl who isn't so typical: she goes on about current events like the lesions that keep appearing on people and the effects of pollution and the looming war and she even writes by hand!  She's pretty cute, but she can be such a downer.  After all, Titus is an average American teen, what does he care if the world is ending?

Rocks My Socks:  The opening sentence: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."  How could I not want to read more?  I love the first-person perspective on this story because it makes Anderson able to narrate a truly chilling dystopian scenario without sounding preachy.  I also love how the narrator does act more or less like an average teen; he's not an unlikely and inspiring hero we should all emulate. He is confronted with some pretty big issues and while he may not always deal with them nobly he does act realistically for his character and seeing the consequences of that is more moving to me than if he had broken character to play the white knight.  I also love how it's never really revealed how things got to be the way they are.  There's excerpts from the feed at the end of some chapters that contain clues but really we never find out because the narrator doesn't know. The slang and the ridiculous trends followed by the teens are also deliciously disturbing although also, sadly, realistic.  There's not much you could say that teens would find trendy that I wouldn't believe, even outside of dystopian fiction.

Rocks In My Socks: If I really want to get nit-picky and find something to criticize, it does get on my nerves that even though the book is set in the future the gender roles seem pretty traditional.  Just like in Fahrenheit 451 it's the attractive young girl with the old-fashioned family who inspires the male narrator to re-examine the role of technology in his life.  It never seems to be the old-fashioned boy who gets the girl to re-examine her priorities.  Among his friends the girls are obsessed with fashion and re-styling their hair and boys are concerned with looking macho for one another. 

Every Book Its Reader: The book is geared toward young adults but there's enough there to make it an excellent read for adults as well.  I highly recommend it with the caveat that since the book is partly about the degeneration of language the narrator employs a fairly constant stream of language that some readers (or more likely their parents) might find inappropriate.  We did get a complaint from a parent at my school about it, although the wonderful librarian that I work with (who also was the one to recommend the book to me) was able to defend it to the parent by citing its necessity for the narrative that is, after all, casting the harsh light of dystopia on it rather than encouraging it.  On the plus side the coarse language means that it is at a very easy reading level, and as it is also high-interest and fast-paced it would be a great book to give to teens who are struggling with reading.

Feed  by M.T. Anderson

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