For this week's "Thursday Treat," I decided to continue with the focus I had last week on literature for teenage boys. Like I said in last week's post, finding good young adult literature geared towards boys is very difficult. Book shelves are stocked with interesting things for girls and the variety is very good, but not so much for boys. In their teenage years, most boys pull away from reading. I think a large part of that is a lack of suitable reading material.
I read Feed by M.T. Anderson as an assignment for a teacher education class at Michigan State. For this assignment, we all picked a book from a list based on a description, then worked in small groups to create lessons. Since Feed is science-fiction and most of the girls (okay, all except me) in my section hated Sci-fi, I was the only girl in my group with 4 guys. We all loved the book and when it came time to create lessons, we really talked about the two things we all loved: the technology and the fact that it seemed like something teenage boys would like.
But, I also really liked the novel. At first I was kind of afraid of the depth of Anderson's world. Right from the beginning the reader is thrown into this dystopian society where lesions are the height of fashion and slang is overly abundant. Right away action hits and the reader is hooked.
The "Feed" is actually a device that almost every individual has implanted at a young age. The feed is essentially a technological device that allows the person who has it to have the internet directly in their head. In this world, you don't even necessarily have to talk to another individual, you can simply chat via the feed. Schools are owned by corporations and since the students have total access to any information they want at any moment, schools don't teach anything, but gear products towards their students. Ads flash up in front of the feeds and direct themselves to the things you talk about in chat mode, or what you search.
It is a world dominated by technology.
Titus, the main character, shows us this world through his observations of the events of him and his friends. None of them seem to care that the corporations have control over their lives and can hack into their brains to target them for products.
This all changes when Titus meets Violet, a girl who thinks about things a little differently.
The result is a book that challenges the reader to think hard about the impact of technology as well as consumerism. When we were creating our lessons in that class project, we focused a lot on those two themes. All of us were deeply moved by the story and the ending and hoped that we could one day teach the novel.
To give you a small taste of Feed, here are some favorite lines;
"We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away."
"The natural world is so adaptable...So adaptable you wonder what's natural."
"I am messaging you to say that I love you, and that you're completely wrong about me thinking you're stupid. I always thought you could teach me things. I was always waiting. You're not like the others. You say things that no one expects you to. You think you're stupid. You want to be stupid. But you're someone people could learn from."
If you like YA fiction, dystopian worlds, or science fiction, this is the novel for you.
I will warn you, however, that there is a lot of language in this novel. Be prepared for it because it'll surprise you.