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I know the writer, Seanan McGuire from the filking community, here writing as her alter ego Mira Grant.  McGuire's elf noir books are light reading, engaging and good urban fantasy, above-average genre mystery with fantastic world-building and good characterization.  So I was ready for FEED to be good.

The name change for Mira Grant is appropriate, because it feels like a different person wrote it.  FEED is excellent speculative near-future science fiction.  The fantastic world-building is still present, as the future Grant creates is believable.  The way the zombie virus, Kellis-Amberlee, works also sounds scarily possible.  Plot-wise, the clues to where it is going are straightforward; you know exactly who the enemy is, more frightening than the zombies, and even more relentless.

But the voices and personalities of Grant's narrator and viewpoint blog characters come alive, and suck you in.  I cared desperately for our team of reporter-bloggers, and had my heart in my throat at the action scenes.  Grant intersperses the ongoing action with "quotes" from her bloggers' sites, and the insights into the characters carry over meaningfully into the story.  I am also very pleased with the characters in that they are all very competent in what they do; and events around them require them to exercise those skills to the maximum.  The English teacher in me admired the structure and format even as the characters became "real" for me.  It gave me a breathing space for the ramping tensions.  FEED is a very emotionally engaging book.

At one point in the book, towards the end, I trembled so hard reading the story, and bawled so much, I actually had a low blood sugar reaction.  (Yes, I am diabetic, and no, that has never happened before.)  And even as I cried, I couldn't put the book down.  I held it to my chest as I cried, waiting for my eyes to clear enough to read on again.

The book deserves to be called a part of the horror genre, not for the blood spatters both on and within the covers, but for the gut-ripping emotional response it evokes.  Those of you who pick this up, be warned:  Grant will get her teeth into you and shake you up hard!  Fear of the zombies is only the backdrop for the horror rising in the plot.

And yet, for how emotional FEED made me, I hunger for the next book, BLACKOUT (The first chapter of which is contained in the "extras" section of FEED.)  Highly recommended.

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December 2011

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