Thursday, December 8, 2011

'Feed' by Mira Grant

Georgia (call me George) Mason and her brother are bloggers who bring the world news from the zombie-occupied fringe. They’re on the cusp between medium fry and large when opportunity knocks: they and their partner Buffy get invited into the press corps of a United States senator who’s running for President. Bloggers. In the press corps.

Zombies seem to be stalking the senator. In fact, if Georgia didn’t know better, she’d say the undead seem to have a clear agenda when it comes to this presidential race. Since that’s not possible, it’s got to be a conspiracy, one she and Shawn must race to unravel. They believe in two things: truth and each other. And the truth will get them killed.

***** ***** ***** *****

This book just broke my heart. Interestingly enough, in the last month of a very long year, it’s also the best book I’ve read in that year. Bar none.

I don’t regret it. No part of me wishes that I’d ignored that oh-so-tantalizing review, or resisted the dark amusement brought on by the word and image play that is the cover. I don’t even blame the author. She knew her characters better than I did, she was there when they were born. They lived in her head and her house and her peripheral vision for months if not years. I’m also sure she knows the rules of zombie stories as well as I do: if you don’t lose people along the way, it’s not much of an exemplar for the genre, is it? She did what she had to do.

Even better, she didn’t flinch. The characters that needed to died. Some died incredibly well despite wretched circumstances. I cried. A lot. I hate it but I did it anyway. I don’t regret that either.

There’s something that I do to double check a book that just blows me away. I strip out whatever whizzbangy gimmick, whatever shiny special FX, informs the story and I look again. Is there anything left?

If the answer’s no, then the glitter dazzled me, which is hardly surprising. I’m something of a magpie and have a weakness for sparkly things. It doesn’t make me dislike the story but I give it less of my heart once I can see through the illusion that made the magic.

Every so often though, the answer is yes. Yes. There’s a meticulously detailed slice of altered reality under all that shine. Characters with faults and fears and heart. Lord love us all, a genuine plot. You scrub the zombies from this book and it’s a beautifully crafted story about truth and love, fear and politics, free speech and betrayal. You’ll fall in love with the people there and you won’t count the cost because they deserve to be known and loved.

Read it.