M. T. Anderson’s Feed imagines what the world would look like if we all had “feeds” (like today’s smart phones) implanted in our brains.
Feed by M. T. Anderson. Candlewick, 2012 (reprint; originally published 2002). 299 pages.
Reading Level: Young Adult, Ages 12 and up
Recommended For: Ages 16-up (note considerations below)
Imagine a smartphone with unlimited text, internet access, and Google’s ability to target you with relevant ads (sound familiar?)–imagine a such a smartphone in your brain. This is what Anderson’s done in Feed–and nearly 20 years ago, before smartphones as we know them now were available. He calls it the “feed.” Everyone has one. Or, nearly everyone. And when a few teenagers are visiting the Moon over Spring Break (everyone’s doing it), and their feeds get hacked, they don’t know how to interact without it. What do they talk about? How can they keep up with what’s happening? It’s so much more *effort* to shop in person! How do they know what they want without the feed’s help? And can a lone teenager stand up and resist?
Feed is a dystopian/science fiction work that examines what might happen to our actual selves were we to have smart-phone like “feeds” in our brains. The result? Without coming right out and saying this, Anderson reveals that humans are more robotic, cyborgs, if you will. Since Anderson wrote this before smart phones were a “necessity” for contemporary teenage life, his work enters in the canon of eerily prescient works such as 1984. For exactly what Anderson predicted is seems remarkably close to our present times.
Feed is an incredibly thought-provoking book, but a depressing one as well. There is no hero in this dystopia. Good people die. Bad people live. And the ramifications of technology mixed our corporate society are scary. The tone in the book will remind readers of The Cather in the Rye; the narrators have similarly jaded, crude viewpoints on their current reality. But where Holden Caulfield simply wallows in his angst, Titus does begin to ponder ultimate meanings.
- There is a mountain of profanity and swearing in this book. Every bad word you can think of is probably in here….
- Titus is a stereotypical high school boy, thinking and talking about stereotypical high school boy concerns–especially those relating to girls. And he is not discreet.
Overall Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
- Worldview/Moral Value: 2.5 (out of 5)
- Literary/Artistic Value: 4.5 (out of 5)
This may not be a book most Christian parents and educators want to assign, but like Fahrenheit 451 (another book heavy laden with bad language), it may promote thoughtful discussion in the right setting. Some possible discussion topics:
- What would happen if we had smartphones in our heads? Would our ability to think for ourselves be compromised? Would we simply follow the ads and our friends’ opinions?
- Should Titus have acted differently towards Victoria at the end? What would you have done?
- Is communication technology (or any technology for that matter) a right? That is, should everyone be entitled to it, or only those who can afford it? Where does your family fall in the lineup of electronic gadgetry?
- What makes us human? What are the differences between us and machines? Can a machine ever be as intelligent as a person?
Related Reading From Redeemed Reader:
- A Review: The Assassination of Brangwin Spurge by M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
- A Review: Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
- A List: 7 Books for Thoughtful Teens