Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Devouring the News

I'm well aware Mira Grant is a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, but since Feed reads nothing like her fiction published under her real name, I won't be using the "Seanan McGuire" tag with the Newsflesh trilogy. Which honestly doesn't matter to anyone but my inner organizer, but hey...

I've been hearing about Feed for quite some time, but it was always something I was putting off. Recently, though, I ran across a display copy at the library, realize the TBR pile was low, and grabbed it. I'm kind of glad I waited as long as I did, since it takes on new meaning in the current state of affairs.

So, where do we start with this? Probably the best place to start is with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, two manmade viruses with great benefits, but which managed to combine into one really nasty superbug. See, the original two viruses killed off the common cold, and the other cured cancer. Combined, they have the side effect of making those who die while infected rise up and start eating those nearest to them. (Only mammals over 40 pounds, which means most house pets are safe, but it makes things like beef come closer to Apocalypse Cow.) While this does lead to such nifty things as George Romero entering an almost Saint like status, it does mean that most of humanity now lives in tightly secured hazard zones, rather than risking exposure to getting eaten by going outside a safe area.

As it happens, mainstream media wasn't particularly inclined to report on grandma snacking on her closest relatives, which lead to the rise of bloggers as journalists. Which sort out into three groups, who can be further classified by their specialties. We have the "Newsies", who report the news and op/ed pieces, "Irwins", who go out and poke things with sticks (which helps people live vicariously through them), and "Fictionals", who write stories and poems about the post-Rising world.

Most of the book is narrated by Georgia Mason, a "newsie", who works with her brother Shaun (Irwin) and Buffy (Fictional) on the "After the End Times" blog site. The three are tapped early on to report on Senator Ryman, a Republican running for president in 2040. Ryman is a fairly moderate Republican, and seemingly Libertarian in his leanings. He's also one of the only candidates allowing the press corps to include Bloggers.

His main competitor for the nomination, Governor Tate, is one of the folks who thinks the rising would abate if the world flocked back to Jesus. He's a bit further out on the Authoritarian branch than Ryman.

Ryman's campaign seems to be plagued with problems, such as a seemingly random outbreak in Eakly, Oklahoma, following a rally. We come to find out that most of the security measures were sabotaged. A problem that repeats at Ryman's Wisconsin ranch following Ryman receiving the nomination.

By the end of the novel, our protagonists have changed quite a bit (some more than others), and the person behind the sabotage has been revealed, although there's a large hint that there's more behind the main villain.

As I stated at the outset, this setting and writing style is a much different beast from McGuire's normal writing style, being a lot less intimate with the narrator. It's still a fine read, and very engaging, but going in expecting Urban Fantasy will disappoint those seeking it.

As a side note, there's evidently on alternate ending on the author's website that changes around the climax and the after effects.