Feed by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) is nominated for the 2011 Hugo for best novel. This was a fantastic book. Mira describes the ideas on how she came up with the story over at Scalzi’s Big Idea on Whatever.
The setting is the US about 30 years after a couple of viruses are released with good intentions that lead to a viral zombie apocalypse. This result in about 30% of the world population ending up dead and is generally called “The Rising”. Every mammal on the planet is infected with a dormant version of the viruses. This has the (intended) benefit that no one gets the cold or cancer anymore. The unintended effects of the viruses are that any mammal over 40 pounds in weight will (upon death or exposure to live virus–from being bitten for example) go into viral amplification mode. What this means is that the virus takes over the host body and then seeks out others to eat/infect. In other words you become a zombie.
The book follows a team of bloggers (Georgia “George” and Shaun Mason and Georgette “Buffy” Meissonier) as they follow the presidential campaign of Senator Ryman. When the viruses first began to take hold, traditional media were reluctant to believe what was happening. Word was spread via the Blogosphere and blogging as a news media became much more accepted.
In their blog group. Georgia is the newsie–the fact based hard hitting reporter. Shaun is an “Irwin” (see Steve Irwin) i.e. he goes into hazardous zones and pokes things with sticks. Buffy is the “fictional”–she writes poetry for their site and also is the system administrator.
The story is mostly told in the first person from the point of view of George with an intermingling of posts from the blogs of the three. We get to see the effects of the Rising on the US and people’s everyday lives. People live in very sequestered environments and blood tests for the live virus are everywhere. The zombies are not themselves the focus of this book. It is all of the effects upon society that the facts of dealing with the situation cause that provides much of the wonderful background. Grant has obviously done a lot of thinking about the situation and how it might effect the world at large–she has done it well.
In addition to being fascinating Grant has written a really well paced and gripping tale. I was up until well after midnight quite literally glued to my iPhone (that’s where I read it.)
Whether you like the idea of zombies or not, this book really delivers. Highly recommended.