Friday, July 8, 2011

Feed by Mira Grant

Another Hugo award nominee.
I believe this was the first book about zombies I have ever read.
A new disease which appeared when two genetic treatment for separate diseases accidentally combined. It is dormant in everyone and in every warm bodied animal which weights over certain limit. When someone who is carrying the virus dies (that means everyone) he reanimates as a zombies who is extremely hungry for any animal protein. And any contact with any bodily fluid of a zombie also wakes up the dormant virus causing a viral amplification and the person who has been bitten turns to a new zombie usually in under an hour. A massive trauma to brain prevents that in a classical zombie movie manner. The book has lot of references to zombie movies, for example George Romero is hailed as one of the saviors of the humanity as people who had seen his movies instantly knew how to fight against the hordes of undead. All this has happened years before the events of the book, when the book happens things have stabilized more or less and the zombies are a known threat.

The book is told mostly in fairly light, sometimes tongue in cheek manner. For example one of the heroes is called Shaun, and another ( a blond girl) has a nickname “Buffy”.
The heroes of the book are bloggers who are blogging especially about zombies, but they are dealing with other newsworthy subjects, also. The book starts when they get invited to follow the presidential campaign of a promising candidate. And the campaign trail turns out to be a lot more than they were expecting...

This book has a strong young adult vibe. The heroes are young, hardly out of their teens and they are smart, brave and resourceful. Most adults are more of less clueless. The plot is pretty entertaining and fast moving, but there are some zombie sized plot-holes. There really was no reason for the bad guy to do what he was doing, I can't really see what he thought he would gain by playing his cards that way he did. Also, the threat of the zombies seems to be overplayed with ever present blood-tests, as it is stated in the novel that 2653 persons lost their lives by zombie attacks on the previous year. This is around 7-8% of people who lose their lives on traffic accidents in the US every year.

I also wonder why the main hero is using ergots and codeine for migraines. Have the more effective medications been forgotten?

A “side-effect” of the zombie plague is a total resistance against all forms of cancer (and common cold has also disappeared – come to think about that, if only 2600 people lose their lives for zombies yearly, the net effect of the zombie menace seems to be very heavily positive .-) ) and because of that smoking isn't frowned upon anymore. In reality the cardiovascular effects of the smoking are much more important as a whole than the cancer and removing that threat would certainly not make smoking cigarettes safe.

But is spite of a few fairly stupid points the book was enjoyable and entertaining, a fluently written very fast read which felt shorter that the stated 592 pages. This book is also supposed to be a start of a trilogy, but as in case of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K.Nemisin I think that the story was finished in sufficiently satisfying manner in this first volume and I have no compelling urge to read the next part of the series. About Hugo: this seemed a somewhat light book for that award.

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