Mira Grant's Newflesh Trilogy opens in an eerie post-apocalyptic world where zombies, pandemics, bloggers, and White House occupant would-be vie for our attention. Twin web reporters Georgia and Shaun Mason are flattered when a presidential candidate invites them to cover his campaign. Before long though, they are engulfed in a story far more serious and infinitely more dangerous. A mass-market original; a new series to set your sights on.
Feed (Newsflesh Series #1)by Mira Grant
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their… See more details below
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.
FEED is the electrifying and critically acclaimed novel of a world a half-step from our own-a novel of geeks, zombies, politics and social media.
For more from Mira Grant, check out:
Newsflesh Short Fiction
Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea
The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell
Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus
Read an Excerpt
By Grant, Mira
OrbitCopyright © 2010 Grant, Mira
All right reserved.
You can’t kill the truth.
Nothing is impossible to kill. It’s just that sometimes after you kill something, you have to keep shooting it until it stops moving. And that’s really sort of neat when you stop to think about it.
Everyone has someone on the Wall.
No matter how remote you may think you are from the events that changed the world during the brutal summer of 2014, you have someone on the Wall. Maybe they’re a cousin, maybe they’re an old family friend, or maybe they’re just somebody you saw on TV once, but they’re yours. They belong to you. They died to make sure that you could sit in your safe little house behind your safe little walls, watching the words of one jaded twenty-two-year-old journalist go scrolling across your computer screen. Think about that for a moment. They died for you.
Now take a good look at the life you’re living and tell me: Did they do the right thing?
—From Images May Disturb You, the blog of Georgia Mason, May 16, 2039
Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot—in this case, my brother Shaun—deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we didn’t already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isn’t a surprise. It hasn’t been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasn’t a surprise then.
When the infected first appeared—heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at hand—they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.
There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came into range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were past being upset about that sort of thing. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, that being the way of things. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have idiots prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my brother and why he probably won’t live a long and fulfilling life.
“Hey, George, check this out!” he shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with his hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swiping at him ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and didn’t have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Shaun’s hands. I’ll give Shaun this much: He knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. “We’re playing patty-cake!”
“Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike,” I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. His current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a healthier pack roaming the area. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You don’t go there unless you’re suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I can’t guess which of those options applies to Shaun.
“Can’t talk right now! I’m busy making friends with the locals!”
“Shaun Phillip Mason, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to God, I am going to drive away and leave you here.”
Shaun looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as he planted the end of his hockey stick at the center of the zombie’s chest to keep it at a safe distance. “Really? You’d do that for me? Because ‘My Sister Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle’ would make a great article.”
“A posthumous one, maybe,” I snapped. “Get back on the goddamn bike!”
“In a minute!” he said, laughing, and turned back toward his moaning friend.
In retrospect, that’s when everything started going wrong.
The pack had probably been stalking us since before we hit the city limits, gathering reinforcements from all over the county as they approached. Packs of infected get smarter and more dangerous the larger they become. Groups of four or less are barely a threat unless they can corner you, but a pack of twenty or more stands a good chance of breaching any barrier the uninfected try to put up. You get enough of the infected together and they’ll start displaying pack hunting techniques; they’ll start using actual tactics. It’s like the virus that’s taken them over starts to reason when it gets enough hosts in the same place. It’s scary as hell, and it’s just about the worst nightmare of anyone who regularly goes into zombie territory—getting cornered by a large group that knows the land better than you do.
These zombies knew the land better than we did, and even the most malnourished and virus-ridden pack knows how to lay an ambush. A low moan echoed from all sides, and then they were shambling into the open, some moving with the slow lurch of the long infected, others moving at something close to a run. The runners led the pack, cutting off three of the remaining methods of escape before there was time to do more than stare. I looked at them and shuddered.
Fresh infected—really fresh ones—still look almost like the people that they used to be. Their faces show emotion, and they move with a jerkiness that could just mean they slept wrong the night before. It’s harder to kill something that still looks like a person, and worst of all, the bastards are fast. The only thing more dangerous than a fresh zombie is a pack of them, and I counted at least eighteen before I realized that it didn’t matter, and stopped bothering.
I grabbed my helmet and shoved it on without fastening the strap. If the bike went down, dying because my helmet didn’t stay on would be one of the better options. I’d reanimate, but at least I wouldn’t be aware of it. “Shaun!”
Shaun whipped around, staring at the emerging zombies. “Whoa.”
Unfortunately for Shaun, the addition of that many zombies had turned his buddy from a stupid solo into part of a thinking mob. The zombie grabbed the hockey stick as soon as Shaun’s attention was focused elsewhere, yanking it out of his hands. Shaun staggered forward and the zombie latched onto his cardigan, withered fingers locking down with deceptive strength. It hissed. I screamed, images of my inevitable future as an only child filling my mind.
“Shaun!” One bite and things would get a lot worse. There’s not much worse than being cornered by a pack of zombies in downtown Santa Cruz. Losing Shaun would qualify.
The fact that my brother convinced me to take a dirt bike into zombie territory doesn’t make me an idiot. I was wearing full off-road body armor, including a leather jacket with steel armor joints attached at the elbows and shoulders, a Kevlar vest, motorcycling pants with hip and knee protectors, and calf-high riding boots. It’s bulky as hell, and I don’t care, because once you factor in my gloves, my throat’s the only target I present in the field.
Shaun, on the other hand, is a moron and had gone zombie baiting in nothing more defensive than a cardigan, a Kevlar vest, and cargo pants. He won’t even wear goggles—he says they “spoil the effect.” Unprotected mucous membranes can spoil a hell of a lot more than that, but I practically have to blackmail him to get him into the Kevlar. Goggles are a nonstarter.
There’s one advantage to wearing a sweater in the field, no matter how idiotic I think it is: wool tears. Shaun ripped himself free and turned, running for the motorcycle with great speed, which is really the only effective weapon we have against the infected. Not even the fresh ones can keep up with an uninfected human over a short sprint. We have speed, and we have bullets. Everything else about this fight is in their favor.
“Shit, George, we’ve got company!” There was a perverse mixture of horror and delight in his tone. “Look at ’em all!”
“I’m looking! Now get on!”
I kicked us free as soon as he had his leg over the back of the bike and his arm around my waist. The bike leapt forward, tires bouncing and shuddering across the broken ground as I steered us into a wide curve. We needed to get out of there, or all the protective gear in the world wouldn’t do us a damn bit of good. I might live if the zombies caught up with us, but my brother would be dragged into the mob. I gunned the throttle, praying that God had time to preserve the life of the clinically suicidal.
We hit the last open route out of the square at twenty miles an hour, still gathering speed. Whooping, Shaun locked one arm around my waist and twisted to face the zombies, waving and blowing kisses in their direction. If it were possible to enrage a mob of the infected, he’d have managed it. As it was, they just moaned and kept following, arms extended toward the promise of fresh meat.
The road was pitted from years of weather damage without maintenance. I fought to keep control as we bounced from pothole to pothole. “Hold on, you idiot!”
“I’m holding on!” Shaun called back, seeming happy as a clam and oblivious to the fact that people who don’t follow proper safety procedures around zombies—like not winding up around zombies in the first place—tend to wind up in the obituaries.
“Hold on with both arms!” The moaning was only coming from three sides now, but it didn’t mean anything; a pack this size was almost certainly smart enough to establish an ambush. I could be driving straight to the site of greatest concentration. They’d moan in the end, once we were right on top of them. No zombie can resist a good moan when dinner’s at hand. The fact that I could hear them over the engine meant that there were too many, too close. If we were lucky, it wasn’t already too late to get away.
Of course, if we were lucky, we wouldn’t be getting chased by an army of zombies through the quarantine area that used to be downtown Santa Cruz. We’d be somewhere safer, like Bikini Atoll just before the bomb testing kicked off. Once you decide to ignore the hazard rating and the signs saying Danger: Infection, you’re on your own.
Shaun grudgingly slid his other arm around my waist and linked his hands at the pit of my stomach, shouting, “Spoilsport,” as he settled.
I snorted and hit the gas again, aiming for a nearby hill. When you’re being chased by zombies, hills are either your best friends or your burial ground. The slope slows them down, which is great, unless you hit the peak and find out that you’re surrounded, with nowhere left to run to.
Idiot or not, Shaun knows the rules about zombies and hills. He’s not as dumb as he pretends to be, and he knows more about surviving zombie encounters than I do. His grip on my waist tightened, and for the first time, there was actual concern in his voice as he shouted, “George? What do you think you’re doing?”
“Hold, on,” I said. Then we were rolling up the hill, bringing more zombies stumbling out of their hiding places behind trash cans and in the spaces between the once-elegant beachfront houses that were now settling into a state of neglected decay.
Most of California was reclaimed after the Rising, but no one has ever managed to take back Santa Cruz. The geographical isolation that once made the town so desirable as a vacation spot pretty much damned it when the virus hit. Kellis-Amberlee may be unique in the way it interacts with the human body, but it behaves just like every other communicable disease known to man in at least one way: Put it on a school campus and it spreads like wildfire. U.C. Santa Cruz was a perfect breeding ground, and once all those perky co-eds became the shuffling infected, it was all over but the evacuation notices.
“Georgia, this is a hill!” he said with increasing urgency as the locals lunged toward the speeding bike. He was using my proper name; that was how I could tell he was worried. I’m only “Georgia” when he’s unhappy.
“I got that.” I hunched over to decrease wind resistance a few more precious degrees. Shaun mimicked the motion automatically, hunching down behind me.
“Why are we going up a hill?” he demanded. There was no way he’d be able to hear my answer over the combined roaring of the engine and the wind, but that’s my brother, always willing to question that which won’t talk back.
“Ever wonder how the Wright brothers felt?” I asked. The crest of the hill was in view. From the way the street vanished on the other side, it was probably a pretty steep drop. The moaning was coming from all sides now, so distorted by the wind that I had no real idea what we were driving into. Maybe it was a trap; maybe it wasn’t. Either way, it was too late to find another path. We were committed, and for once, Shaun was the one sweating.
“Hold on!” Ten yards. The zombies kept closing, single-minded in their pursuit of what might be the first fresh meat some had seen in years. From the looks of most of them, the zombie problem in Santa Cruz was decaying faster than it was rebuilding itself. Sure, there were plenty of fresh ones—there are always fresh ones because there are always idiots who wander into quarantined zones, either willingly or by mistake, and the average hitchhiker doesn’t get lucky where zombies are concerned—but we’ll take the city back in another three generations. Just not today.
Zombies hunt by moving toward the sound of other zombies hunting. It’s recursive, and that meant our friends at the base of the hill started for the peak when they heard the commotion. I was hoping so many of the locals had been cutting us off at ground level that they wouldn’t have many bodies left to mount an offensive on the hill’s far side. We weren’t supposed to make it that far, after all; the only thing keeping us alive was the fact that we had a motorcycle and the zombies didn’t.
I glimpsed the mob waiting for us as we reached the top. They were standing no more than three deep. Fifteen feet would see us clear.
It’s amazing what you can use for a ramp, given the right motivation. Someone’s collapsed fence was blocking half the road, jutting up at an angle, and I hit it at about fifty miles an hour. The handlebars shuddered in my hands like the horns of a mechanical bull, and the shocks weren’t doing much better. I didn’t even have to check the road in front of us because the moaning started as soon as we came into view. They’d blocked our exit fairly well while Shaun played with his little friend, and mindless plague carriers or not, they had a better grasp of the local geography than we did. We still had one advantage: Zombies aren’t good at predicting suicide charges. And if there’s a better term for driving up the side of a hill at fifty miles an hour with the goal of actually achieving flight when you run out of “up,” I don’t think I want to hear it.
The front wheel rose smoothly and the back followed, sending us into the air with a jerk that looked effortless and was actually scarier than hell. I was screaming. Shaun was whooping with gleeful understanding. And then everything was in the hands of gravity, which has never had much love for the terminally stupid. We hung in the air for a heart-stopping moment, still shooting forward. At least I was fairly sure the impact would kill us.
The laws of physics and the hours of work I’ve put into constructing and maintaining my bike combined to let the universe, for once, show mercy. We soared over the zombies, coming down on one of the few remaining stretches of smooth road with a bone-bruising jerk that nearly ripped the handlebars out of my grip. The front wheel went light on impact, trying to rise up, and I screamed, half terrified, half furious with Shaun for getting us into this situation in the first place. The handlebars shuddered harder, almost wrenching my arms out of their sockets before I hit the gas and forced the wheel back down. I’d pay for this in the morning, and not just with the repair bills.
Not that it mattered. We were on level ground, we were upright, and there was no moaning ahead. I hit the gas harder as we sped toward the outskirts of town, with Shaun whooping and cheering behind me like a big suicidal freak.
“Asshole,” I muttered, and drove on.
News is news and spin is spin, and when you introduce the second to the first, what you have isn’t news anymore. Hey, presto, you’ve created opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, opinion is powerful. Being able to be presented with differing opinions on the same issue is one of the glories of a free media, and it should make people stop and think. But a lot of people don’t want to. They don’t want to admit that whatever line being touted by their idol of the moment might not be unbiased and without ulterior motive. We’ve got people who claim Kellis-Amberlee was a plot by the Jews, the gays, the Middle East, even a branch of the Aryan Nation trying to achieve racial purity by killing the rest of us. Whoever orchestrated the creation and release of the virus masked their involvement with a conspiracy of Machiavellian proportions, and now they and their followers are sitting it out, peacefully immunized, waiting for the end of the world.
Pardon the expression, but I can smell the bullshit from here. Conspiracy? Cover up? I’m sure there are groups out there crazy enough to think killing thirty-two percent of the world’s population in a single summer is a good idea—and remember, that’s a conservative estimate, since we’ve never gotten accurate death tolls out of Africa, Asia, or parts of South America—but are any of them nuts enough to do it by turning what used to be Grandma loose to chew on people at random? Zombies don’t respect conspiracy. Conspiracy is for the living.
This piece is opinion. Take it as you will. But get your opinions the hell away from my news.
—From Images May Disturb You, the blog of Georgia Mason, September 3, 2039
Zombies are pretty harmless as long as you treat them with respect. Some people say you should pity the zombie, empathize with the zombie, but I think they? Are likely to become the zombie, if you get my meaning. Don’t feel sorry for the zombie. The zombie’s not going to feel sorry for you when he starts gnawing on your head. Sorry, dude, but not even my sister gets to know me that well.
If you want to deal with zombies, stay away from the teeth, don’t let them scratch you, keep your hair short, and don’t wear loose clothes. It’s that simple. Making it more complicated would be boring, and who wants that? We have what basically amounts to walking corpses, dude.
Don’t suck all the fun out of it.
—From Hail to the King, the blog of Shaun Mason, January 2, 2039
Excerpted from Feed by Grant, Mira Copyright © 2010 by Grant, Mira. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Short version: Overall a pretty good read (characters & plot pretty good); I enjoyed it, and it kept my interest. I would recommend it to people interested in zombies (as those depicted in popular zombie movies). If you don't like the classic zombies or are looking for a smarter or more intriguing depiction of zombies, you might find this book lacking a bit in that area though. Long Version: I bought this book as a random selection after browsing the B&N shelves for about 15 minutes. I like zombies, so I figured this book was worth a shot. I was surprised it is such a new release for being a random pick on my part. Overall I liked this book and was pleasantly surprised that it kept my attention and had interesting characters. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two main characters, Georgia and Shaun, although I couldn't quite identify with their closeness to one another. The other characters through out the book are interesting and well-created. The book starts off great, but then became a little slow-going right after that for a short bit; it picked up nicely after that lull period though to produce an interesting story with some drama and thrill. Overall though a pretty good pace throughout the book to keep interest, especially in the second half. The only negatives I can comment on are that the writing style was a little repetitive at times, but only barely. A couple of the action scenes were introduced the same way, with something like "I only barely had time to do whatever before the gun shots started". Not a big deal though. I did kind of roll my eyes at the George Romero parts in the book, but I guess that's just the author's nod to zombie pop culture. If you like zombies, you know who he is, but I was hoping this book was at least going to provide a new spin on zombies. It didn't so much though, so I guess that's why I felt this book was slightly juvenile and less smart and savvy than I wanted it to be. Lastly, I read the tidbits of the second book "Blackout", and I was a little put off by the amount of f-bombs dropped within the first few pages of that book. I recognize it's based around a different character than the first book, but still I thought "Feed" was tasteful with the profanity, where as I don't know if "Blackout" will show the same tact. The language issue though is just a personal preference kind of thing.
Contrary to what one may think, Feed is not about zombies. To borrow a phrase from the novel itself, the zombies are there, but they’re not the story. Instead, the story crafted is a gripping thriller, a chilling tale of bioterrorism, corruption, humanity, and most importantly, the fight for truth and the sacrifices necessary to achieve it. Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) has created a masterpiece that aspires to many facets of greatness and successfully hits the mark in each case. Witty, heartfelt and relevant, Feed is one novel you won’t regret picking up.
If you are looking for a typical zombie novel this isn't it. If you are looking for post-apacolyptic this isn't it either. For these reasons I was somewhat disappointed in the book. As others have pointed out it is a slow read, particularly in the beginning. In Feed, there is a different take on the post-zombie world that really didn't do enough for my zombie tastes. There is very little actual zombie in the book and very little struggle against zombies. In this post-zombie world there is electricity, running water, airplanes, and basically all other advanced technology you can think of and many you can't as it is a much more advanced time technologically speaking. People basically just "live" with zombies being out there somewhere on the other side of the electric fences. People still go to work everyday, go out to dinner, etc living very much as they did before with some expected differences. Virtually the only true threat is from people using the virus as a weapon or other living people dying around or near you because in this book anyone who dies can/will become a zombie. Basically the virus is dormant in all living mammals of a certain size and can be triggered by certain biological events. Most of the book is centered around making sure you aren't actively infected by requiring a blood test to do anything or go anywhere. So basically zombies and the post-zombie world are just a back drop for what could be called a thriller novel about the media and the evil right-wing politicos. But a horror novel about zombies it is not which is why I was disappointed with it. Overall it is an interesting premise about censorship of the media and politics and zombies but did not have enough violence, mayhem, horror, or zombie for me. However, it did interest me enough that I will likely finish out the series but with a more realistic and different expectation of what I will read.
This book is a great murder mystery book in a world filled with zombies. Well written with great characters and engaging dialogue. That said, this book isn't for everyone -- if you're expecting a book strictly about zombie survival, this may not be for you.
A weird hybrid of campaign history, memoir, and zombie thriller, Feed didn't take off for me until the second half. But when it did take off, I was fully engaged. Worth reading, with some unexpected turns along the way.
This is one incredible book. It's one of the best I have read in years, and it completely took me over. I ended up reading until way too late -- it was almost impossible to stop. And who would have believed that someone could make zombies real? Both a realistic reason for their existence, and the terrible realities tha they would have brought to daily life -- these sit as background to the story itself as we follow a new kind of presidential campaign. Good stuff, folks. As soon as I finished it I was online for volume 2.
After i first finished Feed, I thought it was a good book, certainly not great. Now that I have completed the trilogy, it is the perfect first book and sets the storyline nicely for Deadline and Blackout.
So I was referred to this book by my boyfriend who really loved the trilogy and I am personally a huge fan of Sci-Fi so I decided I would read it as a free reading book in my English 1A class and I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading it! I did not think I would for some reason, but it pleasantly surprised me and I am so glad I took a chance in reading this book. Unfortunately I can’t go into much detail regarding the plot without giving away any spoilers but this was my first apocalyptic novel (I love movies relating to the apocalypse but I had never read a novel with this specific subject before). I can’t compare this with any other novels or the rest of the trilogy unfortunately but from this first book alone, I can’t wait to read the other two. I do not read as often as I would like to so it takes me a while to get into books that may not be my first pick off the shelf but I was almost instantly hooked and interested just by reading the first page, the first scene helped develop the two main characters and the situation they were in (very adventurous). There was a well-developed plot, not too complex (I believe a middle school student could probably read it and understand a majority if not all of it) but it also had some interesting plot twists. The characters were well described and developed and I felt like I could somewhat relate to the main characters. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes action and adventure along with zombies. This is the first novel I have read from the author but I love her writing style – it was easy to understand, she was incredibly detailed with everything that she described and talked about, and she does not use huge words that are difficult to understand. I loved the way the characters had such close relationships with one another along with the history and background each of the characters had. It is a bit of a long read but it was very entertaining so I did not mind much. Another thing I really found interesting about the book was that it was not just about zombies and the Rising, it was about media culture and politics as well and it was just different. While I myself am not a huge fan of politics, it was still quite interesting to me, I liked it. It does not include all of the zombie gore – the kind of stuff you see in movies and TV shows – it was definitely more about the people who were not infected and how they were surviving the Rising. The genre blend flowed almost perfectly through out the novel and it was very impressive how this author was able to include things from different styles and genres, I give her mad props for that. I am giving it a four out of five because while it was an interesting and captivating read, for me, there was just something missing. I can’t put my finger on it but it just did not feel complete, maybe it is just me. I am still going to read the last two books so I am hoping they will be more complete and filled in, in a way. Anyway, I totally recommend this book, do not let me giving it four stars shun you away from buying it and reading it. If I could, I would be giving it a 4.5 instead. I can’t wait to read the last two!
Politics + blogging + zombies. If you like those things. You'll like this book.
Suspenseful, kickass story; engaging characters; canny depictions of what ethics in journalism might cost in an always-on and broadcasting world.
I had a hard time reading this book. Several times, I almost quit reading it. Normally, I can read a book in less than a week. This one took my 3 weeks because it was uninteresting. I did finally get through it.
Slow until midway. Not about zombies but media culture.
loved it! not your usual post apocalypse life
Not your typical post zombie rising story. I loved it. It was different enough to be refreshing.