I had no idea that it was going to be turned into an upcoming series by Amazon Video sometime this year!
The book has a bit of a slow beginning. I wasn't sure how much I would get into it, but once you get past the initial premise and world-building, it picks up the pace and becomes significantly more interesting.
The title is derived from a futuristic social network that allows omnipresent livestreaming, content creation, connection and communication simultaneously. It's described in one section as:
"Quickcodes? Very clever...They were scanned directly by the feed and only relevant ads were shown. A huge source of revenue, and for the consumer -- such convenience. The Feed knew what you thought, what you bought, even when you needed to drink or what your body should eat. So food packaging was personalized. A million ads, personalized for each and every product. For me, for you, for children -- different for everyone, depending on your needs."
The Feed has become so indispensible, so necessary to people's day to day lives, that when a major death is livestreamed on the platform, and then The Feed itself stops working, the world is plunged into chaos and the darkness of disconnection.
Our protagonists Tom and Kate were anachronistic - resisting the lure of The Feed inasmuch as it was possible when it was working - and now that they are stuck having to try to activate rusty memories to survive six years after the Feed crashed.
"And then the Feed collapsed and we were like cows. Our lives were so fragile and we didn't even know it. I didn't even know what panic meant until then... But... listen...can you remember when you first GOT it? When you first realized the power, as you slid in, and the speed of the world it opened up? Who did you first share your thoughts with? It was the most intimate feeling, wasn't it? Nothing between you, no way to lie, just pure and perfect thinking. All of us, plaited together."
As Kate and Tom try to survive in a relative's farmhouse outside the city along with a handful of other people and their family, they also must continually keep watch on each other while they sleep lest they wake up...not quite themselves. As The Feed vanished, people not only went through severe withdrawal or inability to function without the collective knowledge and experiences of billions of others, but there also appeared a mysterious phenomenon when someone would be taken in their sleep and wake up violent and ready to harm others.
Guy continues to twist and chew on nothing, even as Tom hauls him up and shakes him. But he will not wake --it's like he's tethered too hard to sleep. His eyelids flutter and his mouth stretches into a tighter and tighter grimace until suddenly the spasms stop. Then a breath escapes his lips, his face eases to peace, and he starts to breathe normally again.
No one knows why people are Taken. When someone is Taken in their sleep, you have eliminate them to pre-emptively stop them hurting others. But when Kate and Tom's 6 year old daughter Bea disappears, they are driven from home in a desperate quest to get her back. And along the way, you as the reader learn more than you ever could have anticipated in this gripping dystopian sci-fi piece that asks how far would you go for family, and examines the unintended consequences of that grasping for survival.
I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but I did think the book had interesting elements of a zombie survival piece, as well as what I'd imagine to be a drearier dystopian epic. The desperation of the parents made me think of BIRD BOX, but with a social networking component that ties everything together really neatly, as well as a lot of commentary on climate change and the environment. I was truly surprised at some of the twists and turns this book made.
Will you check out THE FEED (book or TV series)?