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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feed - Mira Grant

Dear Ms. Grant,

My name is Justin and I write a speculative fiction review blog. I recently finished your Hugo nominated novel, Feed. First off, congratulations on your success. Before I go any further I want you to know that I enjoyed your novel very much. It was emotionally charged, suspenseful, and perhaps most importantly authentic. Still, I am compelled to ask, why on God's green earth did you write about zombies?

Don't get me wrong, who doesn't love a little zombie killing from to time? Like the Twilight series or a Dean Koontz novel, zombie killing is a time honored guilty pleasure that deserves to be explored every so often. Unfortunately, of late the publishing industry seems inclined to publish zombie killing about as often as John Grisham writes about snot nosed lawyers in over their heads. If zombies was the price you had to pay Ms. Grant, I say I understand, but I also must say this novel is better than zombies. You're better than zombies.

I read your afterward and the brief interview you gave at the end of the eBook. You obviously have a deeply rooted passion of epidemology and virology. This passion is one of the reasons Feed is so good. It comes through in your writing. You have obviously spent countless hours researching how to construct an outbreak. But in the end you wrote about an outbreak the public has read a hundred times over. Zombies eat people, bites bad, head shots good. You did it better than anyone else I've read. I feel more than comfortable calling Feed the quintessential must-read zombie book. But why, oh why, in all your research and passion did you choose such a tired idea?

I think what frustrates me most of all is that the book isn't even about zombies - not really. It's about people (the non-shambling, non-flesh eating variety) and how they communicate. It's about how humanity is developing digitally and how things will change whether we want them to or not. You didn't need the zombies. Your outbreak could have been syphilis on PCP or airborne HIV or some new disease you invented all yourself. All the zombies did is take a really brilliant novel and made it feel like a cookie cutter bestseller.

And that what worries me, Ms. Grant. I have a sneaking suspicion that zombies gained you more readers than it lost. How many people bought what they thought would be a nice airplane ride zombie book and got a lot more? Quite a few I bet. But how many never picked it up because they were just sick of zombies? We'll never know, but I can tell you I was one. I read Feed's blurb months ago and shrugged - just another zombie book I said. If not for your Hugo nomination I would never have picked it up. Feed deserves better than that.

Last year I read The Passage by Justin Cronin. It was pretty good. Before that I read The Strain and before that World War Z. I'm worried that these successes have prompted a rash of clones that will continue to flood the market. Just looking at release schedules in the months to come, zombie novels are on the rise and not slowing down. I hope that Feed won't find itself someday in the future lost among the pile of genre flotsam. I hope we look back on it and remember the glimpse it gave us into the future of human communication. I'll also hope that when you're done with the Newsflesh series you write stuff without zombies and I hope I haven't amplified too far to read it.



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At February 26, 2012 at 3:01 AM , Blogger A Question Of ITIL said...

Please help Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) in her fight against Amazon!
Mira Grant Seanan McGuire Amazon dispute


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