Feed: The Future Looks...Meg Null.


Anderson, M.T. Feed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2002.

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Remember the boring days when technology was outside the body? When you had to carry your computer around with your hands? How mal was that? It was like “you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe” (39). With the Feed you are always jacked in to your shopping preferences with Weatherbee & Crotch, or all of your favorite music. “Feeling Blue? Then dress blue! It’s the blue-jean warehouse final sales event!” (235). Why think, why even feel when the Feed can do it for you? Unit! That’s the only way to have meg fun.

Feed by M.T. Anderson describes a world gone mad with consumerism and the total lack of personal responsibility. Set in a not-too-unbelievable future, Feed exaggerates teenage obsessions with fashion and music, and inflates the young adult stereotypical self absorbed connection to the world. The Feed itself is a wet wired piece off computer technology that caters to a person’s every whim. The characters are constantly barraged by commercials, episodes of their favorite web casts, and recommendations from their private shopping assistants that comment on every emotion trying to find a way to merchandise the experience. The Feed has even taken over vital functions of human physiology.

Our narrator and first person speaker Titus tells us “we went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck” (1). While on the moon, Titus meets Violet, a strange yet beautiful character that brings the voice of common sense to this technological free-for-all. Titus learns that Violet came into possession of her Feed much later than normal children because her parents were poor. Violet’s parents also read books helping her foster a unique and colorful vocabulary, which is simply unheard of in this day of instant technology. As Violet states, “Who are we if we don’t have a past?” (199).

Much like Anthony Burgess’s “A Clockwork Orange” Anderson injects this fast paced world with a new young adult slang familiar to common usage today. Anderson's prediction of a consumer driven Brave New World echo and update Aldous Huxley's vision of distopia on a grand scale. His brilliant use of news snippets and commercial bits let the reader in to the world outside of this corporate run America. A feeling of claustrophobia begins to permeate the book as the more and more people malfunction, unexplained lesions appear and spread, and hints of America being attacked from abroad appear in snippets over the Feed cast. In addition, Violet’s intelligence is mocked by Titus’s friends creating problems in the status quo. When Violet’s Feed is damaged by an attack in a lunar disco, and a slow countdown to inactivity begins, Titus embarks on a harrowing journey of emotional self discovery he was neither expecting nor ready for. But isn’t that exactly what becoming an adult is like?



Recommendations for Teachers (For use in School)

Feed offers a lot of classroom potential because Anderson presents a world that is feasible yet grossly dystopian. Classroom readers get a chance to reflect upon their own lives while reading. For example, the technology presented in the novel has counterparts that can be found in real life. Is mChat the next wave in texting? Will trees become obsolete and replaced by more productive air-factories? Students can think and write about whether or not technology should have limits. By bridging the gaps between Anderson's fictional world and ours, the reader gets pulled into the story. Students may find interest in the idea of school only existing to further the consumerism that engulfs the world. The novel can also be seen in from a marxist point of view. In the world of Feed consumerism and commodities rule. People seem to have instincts to purchase the next new popular item. There is an urge to keep buying and buying until everything seems "null."

Another application offered by this book is the obvious tie to Aldous Huley's Brave New World, specifically focusing upon consumerism. Teacher's may find Feed an excellent bridge to the classic work. Finding comparisons between these two stories is one of the methods teachers could use to help students find their way "in" to a classic book. This same technique could be applied to other distopian works such as Fahrenheit 451and 1984.


About M.T. Anderson
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Author M.T. Anderson
Anderson began life in a rural setting, with few houses and a decent chunk of wilderness in which to play. He attended a boarding school through high school. Though he was once accepted to Harvard, after a year of high-school abroad with Winchester High, Anderson instead chose to accept enrollment at Cambridge University. After graduating in 1992, Anderson took on a job with Candlewick Press- the publishing company who would eventually publish his first book. He still lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Unsurprisingly, Anderson’s somewhat quirky writing matches up well with his personality. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Anderson describes his writing habits; habits which include pacing in certain patterns for hours, eating broccoli, and soul-searching for the perfect word around which to base a section of story. In the end it seems he suffers from writer’s block as much as any other author, and has found amusing ways to avoid the task of writing until he’s ready.

Anderson is now an author of children’s books and young adult literature. He is perhaps most well known for his award winning book, Feed. In 2002, Feed was both a finalist for the National Book Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner. In 2003, Anderson’s Feed went on to become a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award honor book. Feed was one of his first books to win an award, however, it would not be his last.

Along with Feed, M. T. Anderson is the author of several young adult books, including Burger Wuss, The Game of Sunken Places, and his first publication, Thirsty. He has also writes short stories for the young adult series M. T. Anderson’s Thrilling Tales. In the writing realm, Anderson is not solely tied to young adult fiction, as he has written many picture books for much younger children as well.





Multimedia

Below is a teaser trailer for the M.T. Anderson’s Feed created by Annie Behr of Career and Technology Education.



Consumerism! The Musical - A satirical (and musical) take on consumption in America.





Additional Resources:

Feed

M.T. Anderson

Related Information
  • Effects of Consumerism - Learn more about the impact of consumption on the people and our environment from globalissues.org.
  • Really Really Free Market - A movement where people form a temporary market bringing stuff they don't need, and trade it for other people's stuff! They usually involve free food, free music, lots of hippies, and are a lot of fun! Most of our stuff ends up in the trash, why not see if someone else's trash is your treasure?
  • Young Adult Dystopian Future Novels - Hungry for more? Here are suggestions for other dystopian novels within the Young Adult Literature genre.

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Reviewed by:
Kelly Boston
Casey Heath
Greg Heisenfeldt
Shelby Lincoln

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