All Your Emotional Baggage is in a Zip File
A scathing satire and a harrowing work of sci-fi YA fiction. Not a fun read, but it’s something that sticks with you.
In the future world of Feed, everyone is born with internet access implanted into the brain. This allows everyone to instant message one another telepathically, and enables corporations to continually bombard all individuals with advertisements and entertainment specifically catered to their personal interests. People don’t need intelligence, because answers can be obtained faster than the questions can be asked. In this environment, the teenagers of this story are consumerist and hedonistic to an astounding level, and all the while their natural dialogue reads like the worst of Youtube comment conversations.
The protagonist of this brave new world is neither a hero nor a rebel, and the relationship that develops between him and the lead girl is about the least romantic subplot you will find in the young adult aisle. But this time it’s on purpose! The point M. T. Anderson repeatedly makes is that when everyone is connected, nobody is connected. This isn’t a happy story, but the prose was engaging enough to get me to see its cautionary tale to the end.
I’ll recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the genre, or who likes to read stories that have a big message to tell. How well this message holds up today, considering this book was released all the way back in 2002, will depend on the reader. How well do you feel society has fared since the advent of television? Or over the past decade, as guided by the omnipresent force that is online social media? Feed may be a work of hyperbole, but that is how satire elicits discussion.