A new beginning for Mira Grant's New York Times best-selling Newsflesh series! There are two sides to every story. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we unleashed something horrifying and unstoppable. The infection spread, leaving those afflicted with a single uncontrollable impulse: feed. Now, 20 years after the Rising, a team of scrappy underdog reporters relentlessly pursue the facts while competing against brother-and-sister blog superstars the Masons. Surrounded by the infected, and facing more insidious forces working in the shadows, they must hit the presidential campaign trail and uncover dangerous truths. Or die trying. Feedback is a full-length Newsflesh novel that overlaps the events of the acclaimed first novel in the series, Feed, and offers a new entry point to this thrilling and treacherous world.
"The strength of this tale lies in the diverse cast, their deep ties to one another, and Grant's ability to surprise the reader with emotional gut punches." (Publishers Weekly) "A U.S. presidential campaign set in a zombie-infested future bears an eerie resemblance to the way we live now. Simply jump in and enjoy...a whip-smart thriller overflowing with sharp ideas and social commentary." (Kirkus )
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One of the largest questions I had during the course of Feed (the original) was what was going on on the Democratic side of the fence. In that book, you would have thought the entire election process was a single-party race. Feedback exists to answer that question, filling in the gaps not only on the Democratic side, but offering a view into lesser- or under-used characters from the Republican party as well. And sometimes, that's the book's greatest downfall.
As someone who's read the original trilogy obsessively, I both appreciated and was annoyed by the symmetry to the original book--the attacks on the campaign that often followed similar ideas and themes, and were timed to nearly coincide with one another. While Grant did her best to lampshade the "reasons" no one heard of these events in Feed, the rationales used are flimsy at best, dropping any suspension of disbelief right on the floor.
The book only really picked itself up to a four-star rating about mid-way through, when (mild spoilers, sorry! It's only this sentence) the cast took a hard left turn away from the politics and started making their own way into the world.
That being said, Grant completely avoided one trap that often catches authors as they expand a 'verse: new characters hero-worshiping the original cast. Instead, the new cast offer some much-needed change in perspective for the Newsflesh world.
Part of me doesn't even want to mention this next bit, but as I've seen other reviews already expressing annoyance about it, my two cents is thus: While I never would have accused Grant of being close-minded, I'd always been a little bothered by the lack of outright LGBTQIA representation in the main series (barring a nod to Maggie and Buffy) and her general lack of a lesbian/bi/other female lead in any of her works, including the McGuire titles. The delicious, and realistic, diversity of Feedback's cast is like a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways and I hope she continues to expand her horizons and the voices of her main characters.
And I have to admit, some of the featured zombie-laden traps are absolutely inspired.
As to the narration of the audio-version, however...Georgia Dolenz's lead as Ash is spot-on perfect. Every other character, however, ranged from lacking to completely indistinguishable from everyone else. And though Dolenz hits a certain stride about mid-way through the book, the beginning of the book is filled with stumbles and emotionless deliveries of side-characters lines. More often than not, this made listening to the book a chore, rather than a treat. I lost track of how many times I needed to back track a minute or more just to figure out what was going on.
That being said, it certainly wasn't the worst narration I've heard, and I can't let that detract too much from an otherwise enjoyable book. I do hope that, if there's a follow-up book with this cast (and I suspect there will be), Grant takes strides to let the cast have their own story, rather than riding on the Mason's coat tails.
Feedback is set during the events of Feed, sometimes to its detriment. At times it can feel clumsy and can lose some of its momentum while trying to weave itself into the timeline set in the first book.
The narrator is great with the lead character but has trouble with everyone else--almost everyone sounds the same. The emotion that was so close to Feed isn't quite there. Despite its faults, it's still worth listening to, the world of the series is still amazing, even if the story of Feedback isn't as effortless as Feed.