"We enter a time of calamity."
"We enter a time of calamity."

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Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Story:
Imagine taking everything a computer, TV, and radio contains: the internet, IMing, games, advertisements, music, movies, etc. and cramming them all in your head so that at any moment you could access any thing you wanted. Whether that be the latest pop song, the hit show on prime time TV, or what fashion is in and what's out; it's available to you at any time, any place. Feed takes you there. Feed invites the readers to a world in which you control--with a simple thought.

Feed is a young adult novel by M.T. Anderson that has multiple strengths and a fearless message. It has the ability to draw in teenage readers with quick dialogue and unique slang, while still conveying powerful themes about peer pressure, individuality, and love. The main character and narrator, Titus, is a teenager living in a world where a “Feed” is implanted into the brain to guide almost every decision in a person’s life. It has become normal to be completely saturated day in and day out with advertisements, music and TV. The characters believe they are exhibiting free-will and choice, but in reality they are only doing exactly what the Feed Corporation wants. They are essentially brain washed from birth.

In the beginning of the book, Anderson’s teenage characters are frightfully shallow, concerned only with having a good time and spending money. Although the teens do still attend school, it seems to be portrayed as a joke considering they are only taught how to operate their feeds. However, Titus and his 5 friends' trip to the moon changes everything. It is here that he meets Violet. At first he can’t stop watching her; he thinks, “that was why I kept looking at the girl in gray, and started to want, more than anything else that night, to be with her” (25). He is intrigued by her from the moment he meets her, because she is different in a world of sameness and inevitably she changes the course of his life.

Before Titus, his friends, and Violet leave the moon, their Feeds are hacked and they are forced to live without the constant noise in their heads. Technicians fix the problem but some experiences are too big to forget. In the silence that is so unusual for them, Titus begins to bond with Violet, and he learns that her Feed is not completely fixable. She begins to open his eyes to how the Feed manipulates its' users: “What I am doing, what I have been doing over the last two days, is trying to create a customer profile that’s so screwed, no one can market to it. I’m not going to let them catalog me. I’m going to become invisible” (98). Titus is both charmed and concerned with Violet's individuality. Once it is back in working order the Feed doesn’t always comfort him anymore. As Violet’s Feed dangerously deteriorates, Titus must face the truth of his life of making the right decisions even if peer pressure may try and hold him back.

The real power of this story lies in Titus’ relationships and how they affect his path in life. From Violet he learns about the beauty of life outside the Feed; although he is constantly being drawn back by his friends in making this discovery. The reader sees each of Titus' friends' insecurities and how easily they are drawn into conformity by Feed advertising. Titus’ parents even encourage him to fit in rather than stand out and not ask too many questions. His dad states, “there wasn’t any reason for you to know” (127) when Titus finally learns about the death of the Feed hacker. The whole world has bought into something hollow, and as the book progresses the reader sees that something has to give.

These themes will resonate with young adult readers because these are the issues they face everyday. The book also speaks about our choices as a world and where they leave us. This novel is sure to leave the reader wondering about their own life’s choices and which choices are even their own anymore.

Notes for Teachers:
M.T. Anderson wrote the first two parts of the book before the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States. It wasn't until the day after that he was sitting in a music store, in which he overheard a conversation, that he decided to create the novel. Teachers could use the themes of the 9/11 attacks and the parallels between Feed to invite discussions about world issues or even how young adults view these types of "tragedies" in the novel and real world scenarios. The way Titus and his friends react to the "hacking" of their "feed" is parallel with the way Americans reacted towards the attacks on the World Trade Center.

This book should be geared towards a more mature age of adolescents because of the language used, as well as the characters use of, what seem to be, "drugs" in the novel.

Teachers should also give their students insight to the confusing start of the book and encourage their students to not give up on the bookexternal image anderson200.jpg because of this confusion. Many readers could be off set from the abrupt start with little explanation and slang use that is not of common slang in today's language.

About the Author:
M.T. Anderson was born 1968 in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied Literature at Harvard and Cambridge, and received a MFA in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. He is single with no children and is currently teaching Creative Writing at Vermont College.

Other Works by M.T. Anderson:

Additional Resources

"Everything must go."

"Everything must go."

"Everything must go."

"Everything must go."