Believe it or not this book is about 12 years old, it was first published way back in 2002. I have never heard of it despite it winning quite a few awards. The only reason I came across is was from a website that posted an article about dystopian society books, or something along those lines, and it was mentioned in the comments section. I looked it up and was sold, I knew I had to check it out. What I did not realize was that it is a young adult book so it is not too long and the words are pretty big, just the way I like them.
Anderson was born in Cambridge, Mass. I guess he is pretty smart as he graduated from Harvard University, Cambridge University (the one in England), and Syracuse University. He is very active in his community as he works for the Board of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, as well as a music critic, and an instructor at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has quite the impressive resume. Anderson is the author of quite a few books as well, I think Feed ranks somewhere in the middle as far as popularity goes. It was nominated for multiple awards and won the Los Angeles Times Book Award. I think his most famous work is the Octavian Nothing series of which consist of two books thus far. That series has also won a few awards.
This story is set in I believe the far future where most of the universe is colonized by humans including Mars, Venus, and many of the moons of Jupiter are hot vacation spots. Almost 70% of people have an implant in their brain that directly connects them to a more advanced form of the internet. The story opens with a bunch of teenagers spring breaking on the moon, of all places. Titus and his friends seem to be like most normal teenagers looking to have a good time. Titus then meets a girl named Violet who he is quite smitten with. While on the moon the group is partying at a night club when a terrorist attacks them with a device that damages their implant and interrupts their feed. The group is taken to the hospital and after some time their feeds are restored. After spring break the two return to Earth where they continue to date and get to know each other. As the couple grows closer Violet tells Titus that because of the attack on the moon her feed had not been right since and the doctors do not know how to fix it. From there their relationship takes a turn and the author shows the read what kind of world the two kids live in.
This is some dystopian society writing at its finest if you ask me. The story is so simple and not complicated in any way. You would expect most novels of the genre to go into elaborate explanations on how the futuristic technology works or how humans came to colonize most of the solar system, but none of that is discussed at length. There are some holes filled in about how the feed works, but nothing that is overly complicated, and it works brilliantly. This is one of the few dystopian society novels that is more focused on the relationship between Violet and Titus and not so much the technology aspect. The cool thing is that he uses these two characters to show what it is like to live in their world.
Technology does play a big role in this story, but it is weird as it was both a focal point and a background device as well. Anderson did a great job of not overdoing this aspect as sometimes is the case for the genre. At times this story reminded me a little of the movie Her (which if you have not seen it you need to, it is one of the best I have seen in a while) as the relationship between Violet and Titus drives almost the whole story.
I have to admit that the story starts out a little slow and kind of just putters along. I had to make myself read it at times in the beginning, but once things got going I really could not put it down and was excited and eager to finish it.
As the story came to an end I felt myself growing angrier with Titus. That little punk still makes me mad and deserves a beating in my opinion. The weird thing is that the story gets more and more depressing as it goes along, and I kept getting more and more interested. I guess I wanted to see how big of an ass Titus could be and that kept me going. I will admit that this story played with my emotions a little, which does not happen very often. You would not think that a YA book would do that but I found myself genuinely upset with the events that unfolded in the book. I liken this to some great characterization from the author, and deserve praise for the style and the characters he created. Really great work Anderson!
Another point that I really enjoyed in the book was how the author blended two people from completely different walks of life. It is not known at first, but slowly the pieces start to come together and you again get to see both sides of the economy and how they live in this future world. Not only that but how their different upbringings define who they are and how they exist in society. To me this is one of the main themes in the book that was not really brought to light till the very end. I liked this aspect and honestly it was alluded to earlier in the story but it took me a while to put it together, and when you realize it is so much easier to see. The haves and have not’s can be seen in the story but what is interesting is how those two cultures clash and as the saying goes ignorance is bliss!
It has been a long time since a book, of any kind has really moved me is some way. When I finished this one I was angry, and quite depressed at how the story played out. Part of me wished that the story would end happily ever after and honestly and mad as I was, I applaud the writer for not doing that. I think too many stories end that way and it takes some courage to end the story in the realest way possible.
I did read a few other reviews in the story and I think the word “consumerism” was use no less than one million times, okay maybe not that much. I did not really take that aspect away from the book, although it is certainly there no doubt. But to me that was not the focus of the story. So you have to take this review and any other with a grain of salt, the most important thing in any book is what you, the reader, takes away from it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a little slow to start but quickly built a disastrous and fascinating dystopian world, a world that was given just enough description to make it real. The characters are great in the story and you will find yourself picking sides and liking one at one time then wanting nothing to do with them the next page. It is honestly an emotional rollercoaster of a read. I also wanted to mention that his book is on recommended reading lists for school children all around the country. I think there are so many themes and issues in this one that it would be a great book for young adults. There are quite a few curse words in the book which I was not expecting mainly because it is a young adult novel so just be warned, and I am not talking the occasional Damn. There are some explicative laden rants that are quite colorful. Regardless I cannot recommend this book enough and could write twice as many words on the novel analyzing every aspect of it, but instead I will let you check it out.
This is the first time I have written a spoilers section but, I really felt that I needed to talk a little more about Titus and his behavior and mindset. Titus is a very interesting character to say the least. He wants a simple life, but Violet complicates it, and that slowly destroys their relationship. He is happy and lives his life in a cocoon as the outside world around him crumbles to pieces, his life is simple, fun, and carefree. I can’t blame him I would not want a dose of reality either, especially if it is dark and terrible. Ignorance is bliss and Titus is very ignorant of the real world and those that are less fortunate that him. It is not only him but his friends and family are the same way. This world is a very divided world and it is easy for the reader to see, but the Titus and his friends have no idea and do not see the division.