Tag Archives: change

Feed – M. T. Anderson
Book Reviews
December 16, 2009 posted by Katie

Feed – M. T. Anderson

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his “feed,” a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee & Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone’s been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what’s happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.

When I first saw Feed mentioned in Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Top Twelve Books of 2009’, I knew that I had to read this novel. (For those who don’t know, Maggie is the author of Shiver) What gripped me from the first page of this novel is the sense of grim reality. This isn’t a novel where everything is carefully scripted, it’s honest and raw. Dialogue and thought coming from a place that strikes me as real. Through every thought of Titus I got a sense of being completely in over my head, struggling to find meaning of events taking place. Which, I believe, is exactly the response author M. T. Anderson was looking for.

Feed opens with a group of friends on spring break who have decided to take off to the moon to find entertainment. But the moon isn’t exactly what they expected. They run into Violet, who for all appearances is as average and normal as the rest of them. Except for the fact she was home-schooled and needs to live a little. Yet everything doesn’t run smoothly on the moon. For Titus and his friends become the subjects of a hacker, resulting in their feeds being disconnected, leaving them shut off from the world. Imagine having the internet permanently accessible to you, then suddenly it’s gone. Yet this internet is the basis of everything. Communication, human contact. The world.

All too soon – or not soon enough depending on your point of view – the technicians of FeedTech have fixed the problem and Titus, Violet and their friends can continue on with their normal life as American consumers. However one member of this group doesn’t have it as easy as the rest. Even before the hack, Violet was about defying the feed. About not conforming to society. Testing the boundaries to see how far she can push. And her limit may have just arrived, for her feed hasn’t recovered the same as everyone else’s. Slowly, Violet is losing control of her most basic functions and without the money to fund repairs, Violet and Titus know that she only has a short amount of time to live.

With not enough time to do anything, Violet tries to do everything. Yet underneath it all there is still her belief in fighting the system. Her belief that there is something more out there than the average American. But can she communicate this to Titus in a way he can understand before it’s too late?

I’ve always measure novels in terms of how well I can get lost in the story. Feed is one that had me completely lost in the story. Anderson wove a story that was so compelling and so real. This isn’t a fantasy or alternate universe with different rules. It’s a grim look at a future possible reality. The ‘feeds’ which is the subject matter of a large portion of the novel is a highly advanced internet interface which is installed in your brain – it takes over everything from breathing and moving and completely removes the necessity of reading. It categories and records everything you do, building a profile of you used by American corporations. It is a place that we could very well be heading. A scary and controlling place. And through this, we have Violet who is fighting for a better world, a world where youth don’t live in ignorance of what is happening outside of their suburb, where youth remember the history of the past and what the world used to be like. It is Violet who made this novel all the more real, as she tries to break from society.

This is just one of those novels that needs to be read. At the core, one girls emotional and physical struggle to change the world, seen through the eyes of one that struggles and fails to break free of the constraints of society.

A warning to younger readers, frequent coarse language does occur.

Pages: 300

Publication date: 2004

Rating:: ★★★★★

Surf Ache – Gerry Bobsien
Book Reviews
November 8, 2009 posted by Katie

Surf Ache – Gerry Bobsien

“How do choose between the things you love?”

Meet Ella. Her world has just been turned upside down when her parents decided to move their whole family interstate. Gone is downtown Melbourne, her dance studio, best friend and boyfriend, and hello Newcastle, where the town lives by the daily surf report, everyone knows everyone and her mother is apparently a local legend. Everyone seems to be adjusting; even her crazier-than-normal sister Creaky, yet Ella can’t help but long for her home town, where everything has its place and where she knows what is expected of her.

Nothing will replace the life in Melbourne, but as Ella starts to settle in and see the beauty of her surroundings, Newcastle may just come close. School brings new opportunities for Ella, new friends, new surroundings, new people who have no idea who Ella is. As she settles into the life in Newcastle, Ella finds what she was missing, a new dance studio, close friends and as Ella begins to accept her new life, her conflicted feelings of missing her old life but enjoying her new one start to play out. At the forefront of this is Jamie, her ex-but-still-kind-of-together boyfriend from Melbourne. Ella and Jamie never really broke it off, and when Ella starts to become close to talented surfer and fellow classmate Snowy, tensions between Ella and Jamie start to climb.

Unable to resist the lure of the surf, Ella becomes completely entrenched in the surfing culture of the town. Mornings are spent at the beach, afternoon’s training, and every second of free time is somehow related to surfing – documentaries, magazines and the all important surf report. All through this, Ella hears whispers of her mother’s former surfing ability, yet before the move, Ella and Creaky were un-aware that their mother even liked the beach, let alone spent enough time there to be considered a surfing legend.

As Ella struggles to find a balance between surfing and dancing, the question must be asked, and Ella needs to make the biggest decision that could very well change the course of her life forever.

Surf Ache is debut novel from Australian writer Gerry Bobsien, a resident of Newcastle. As a first novel, it is something fresh and new in the young adult genre. I’m yet to read a novel on surfing that I got to the end of, this being the first. However, I felt that there was room for much deeper character development and exploration, as with some of the characters their decisions and actions lacked believability for me. I felt that there was too much covered in the way of events, without a definite conclusion. That being said, this novel could be setting up to a possible sequel. I personally would have loved to see more of Creaky and Luke, as I felt this story arch was set up then forgotten towards the end of the novel, but that could be me and my love of wacky characters! Overall, an enjoyable and light read that kept me occupied and reading to the end.

Rating:: ★★★☆☆