WEEK 7, Feed by M.T. Anderson
In this strange, disturbing, futuristic world you will find teenagers following the typical stereotype – traveling to the moon to party on spring break, disrespecting adults, and even becoming consumed and essentially brainwashed by the commercial advertisements constantly playing on the feed. It is almost haunting as a reader to follow the characters in their boring day to day lives which are consumed by the feed telling them what to do, buy and eat. One day, a particularly rebellious and unique teen, Violet, winds up in some serious trouble as her feed shuts down and malfunctions with nobody willing to fix it. Why does this society not want a unique teen like Violet? Follow along as this dreary dreadful world gets turned on its side.
Keywords: advertisements; implants; lesions; futuristic; friendship
What I Think:
This is another book that I decided to listen to instead of read because I knew I would have to spend a lot of time in the car driving for this week. Although this might have been a coincidence, I was definitely glad I made the decision to listen instead of read. One of the reasons I feel this way is because of the format of the book. At the end of many of the chapters are some weird excepts that appear to be advertisements. For example, there is an advertisement for a radio station, hit song, and restaurant (Lo, 2009, p. 15). These advertisements are meant to show exactly what the characters in the book experience through their implanted feeds that basically take over their lives. I felt that reading these ads would not have given me the same great experience as I had listening to them. By hearing the ads, I could actually experience how the feed would feel and sound as a character in the book, instead of just reading and imagining what it would be like. This allowed me to relate better with the characters. However, regardless if a person reads or listens to the book, the advertisements give the book a unique and interesting structure.
One reason that I did not enjoy listening to this book was because of the person reading the different characters’ voices. There was only one reader, a man, attempting to do all voices in the book. However, when a girl was speaking, this reader sounded almost a bit offensive, like a silly valley girl. Although this is not related to the actual text or content of the book, it was simply an observation and one downside to the audio version of such a great book.
What the Experts Think:
In this strange, disturbing future world, teens travel to the moon for spring break, live in stacked-up neighborhoods with artificial blue sky, and are bombarded by a constant advertising and media blitz through their feeds. They live with a barrage of greed and superficiality, which only one teen, Violet, tries to fight. Intrigued by Violet’s uniqueness, Titus begins a relationship with her in spite of his peers’ objections. Yet even he cannot sustain the friendship as her feed malfunctions and she begins to shut down. “They” refuse to repair her feed because she is too perceptive and rebellious. This didactic, also very disturbing book plays on every negative teen stereotype. The young people are bored unthinking pawns of commercialism, speaking only in obnoxious slang, ignoring or disrespecting the few adults around. The future is vapid and without direction. Yet many teens will feel a haunting familiarity about this future universe. As a cautionary tale, the story works; it is less successful as YA literature. — Frances Bradburn
In the classroom, I would use this book to talk about dystopian societies and how they might come about. Many great discussions could be prompted by this book. Additionally, I would have my students create an advertisement that they think might appear on the characters’ feeds. This could be an advertisement that would make sense in the context of the book or even an advertisement for the characters to actually read the book, Feed. The students could be creative with this assignment while also having to know about the book to create an accurate advertisement. Students could choose to use a video, podcast, digital story or other form of media for their advertisement on the feed. After creating these advertisements, the students could share these with their peers!