‘”No one with feeds thinks about it,’ she said. ‘When you have the feed all your life, you’re brought up not to think about things. Like them never telling you that it’s a republic and not a democracy. It’s something that makes me angry, what people don’t know about these days. Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots. Ignorant, self-centered idiots.'”
Titus got his feed when he was an infant, like most people. The feeds are basically computers integrated into people’s brains. They let him know what’s cool, what new malls are open, what new things to buy, and where to go for fun.
When Titus and his friends head to the moon for a vacation, he meets a different girl, Violet. Violet didn’t get her feed until she was seven, a rarity these days. Because of that, it didn’t integrate properly into her head, and she’s having some very real physical problems. Because the feeds control parts of the physical body, and it’s malfunctioning, she will eventually die. But before she does, she wants to experience the world.
So, Violet and Titus go see the ocean, as ravaged as it is. They start trying to check off things from her “Things to Do Before I Die” list, like going to a motel in the mountains. However, Titus is being pulled in two different directions: his friends, always in pursuit of stimulation, parties, shopping, and then, Violet: different, perceptive. She makes him think about things that make him uncomfortable, and makes him challenge the messages of the feed. Why, she asks, is the earth such a disaster? Why can’t people reproduce naturally anymore (they need the help of artificial insemination banks)? Where are all the animals?
When I first began this book, I was put off by the language. Titus’ language is stripped-down, non-descriptive, and full of slang. He seems to have a hard time expressing himself, and so do his friends. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Then, I realized that it’s not poor writing; it’s actually the opposite. Anderson is evoking the sameness, the bleaching of the world’s creativity, that having the feeds entails. It’s an incredible way to make you feel the importance of thinking for yourself. It’s a dark satire that targets corporations and warns against accepting everything we’re told. Clever, creative, and provides real food for thought. Also, it has received numerous awards, including a finalist nomination for the prestigious National Book Award.
Author’s website: http://mt-anderson.com/
Anderson, M.T. Feed. Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2002. 299 pp. Ages 15 and up.