Seeing into the future
M.T. Anderson has come up with a mantra for the 21st century: I wanted to buy some things, but I didn't know what they were. So says Titus, the protagonist of Feed, a very scary and provocative look at what the future might be like for teenagers. It's no wonder Titus wants to buy things; he's subject to a never-ending bombardment of advertisements that come through an internet hookup, or feed, hardwired into his brain. His every movement is tracked, his every taste is tallied and pandered to. He can barely read; he can't write, and his only thoughts are of what fun things he and his friends are going to do.
Titus and his pals begin this roller-coaster ride into the future by spending spring break on the moon. While there, he meets Violet, a shy, cerebral young girl who teaches him the importance of fighting against the power of the intrusive feed. Shortly after they meet, Titus and his friends are the victims of a creepy stranger's terrorist attack, the consequences of which affect all their lives, one of them tragically.
It's exhilarating to decipher Anderson's futuristic adolescent slang, but his story is a serious one. He has an uncanny gift for depicting how teenagers see the world. The way in which he envisions their future lifestyle feels believable. With a manipulative corporate monster that puts a trademark on both school and the weather, trips to the beach in protective suits and mysterious lesions that become fashion accessories, Titus and Violet's world seems ominously possible. Feed is a cautionary tale for young people, but be warned, parents this is a book for young adults. Feed has profanity, drinking and drug use, as well as sexual situations. You might want to read it yourself before passing it on to your youngster. It's certainly worth your time.
James Neal Webb has raised two teenagers.