Monday, February 7, 2011

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Feed is a dystopian novel set in the United States of the future, in which 73% of Americans have an Internet "feed" implanted in their brains. The feed blasts advertising, music and movies, and lets people "chat" each other instead of speaking out loud. (Initially, I thought this meant texting, but then one of the characters asks another if he can read, so I think chatting is more like a private phone call.)

Feed begins when teenagers Titus and his friends, including a clone of Abraham Lincoln, go to the moon for spring break and their feeds get hacked. Titus meets his girlfriend, Violet, there, and after the hacking she begins to experiment with her feed, questioning whether it is a good thing. Feed is a short novel - mostly slangy teen dialogue - but it brings up interesting issues about the future of consumption, American society and technology. The library's evening book group will have a lot to discuss at their meeting tomorrow, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. Questions are available here.

M.T. Anderson discusses Feed on his website. You can also read his acceptance speech for the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award that Feed received. His next teen novel, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Part I: The Pox Party (try looking that up in a library catalog), won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006.

I have a few discussion questions to add to the others floating around on the Internet:

1. Read page 160 (hardcover edition). What new meaning or connotation does Violet's outburst give to the title of the book, Feed?

2. This book was written in 2001. Do any parts of it feel outdated to you, or does it seem timeless? Is it already coming true?

3. Reread pages 76 and 122 in the hardcover edition. Who do you think is responsible for the "nudging"? What do you think the motives of the hacker on the moon were?

4. How does page 174 (hardcover) change the way you thought about Violet's To Do List?

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