Feed (2002), by M. T. Anderson

Feed contains the most memorable opening line in YA literature: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to totally suck.”  It is a fascinating look at the future of personal connection to advertising and information media, a YA extension of Bill Gibson’s Neuromancer, in a way, but revealing what happens when the system—both technological and political—goes horribly wrong for the individual.
I must say, though, that despite the post-humanist theme of this novel, and its unquestionable success at bringing home to the reader the dangers of capitalist oligarchy and the potentials of technological interventions in human physical development, Titus’s character brings the efficacy of the message into question.
We do not like Titus.  He is weak, a product of the system, a character unable to provide emotional support for his dying girlfriend. But his very weakness perhaps one of the strengths of the text?  In my estimation, in the end, Titus remains a willfully static character, unable or unwilling to learn from his rather traumatizing experiences.  Or rather, experiences that are traumatizing for the reader; they don’t seem to be sufficiently so for Titus.  Is the message here that there is no hope? The only character who stands up to the system is ultimately defeated by her own resistance. What message is Anderson giving us? As a cautionary tale, a là Mrs. Sherwood, it is superb: but are young adult readers sufficiently familiar with the genre to extrapolate from the text the cautionary message?
Perhaps I give the young reader too little credit and Anderson is right: unless we prevent such a situation from developing—and we can see very plainly how we can get there from here—then perhaps the Tituses of the world will be all who are left; the Viotlets will be slowly removed from the system.


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