You’re probably thinking I’ve gone insane right now, aren’t you? At least, literary snobs, those of you that have read Feed and those of you that have seen my review are. I mean, a zombie novel in school. How crazy can you get? Well, it’s actually not that crazy. So please hear me out before you pass judgment:
1. It will engage high school students.
Yes, Feed has violence and coarse language. Yes, it’s a zombie novel. But I know for a fact that ‘worse’ books (content-wise) have been studied in school. Does anyone here remember reading Catch-22 in high school English? When I first read it, I was shocked that anyone ever studied this in school, yet it was still studied because it was a good novel. Feed is an excellent novel and in my honest opinion, it’s no worse than Joseph Heller’s classic novel. In some aspects, it is less ‘offensive’.
In most people’s minds zombies=awesome. By high school, most people (especially boys in my experience) hate reading passionately. Educators are always asking themselves how to improve reading scores and get kids interested in reading again.
Do you see where I’m going here?
Feed has all of the themes, messages and three dimensional characters that educators love to analyze to death while having all of the zombies, weapons and gross science that teenagers love. It has bad language and violence (obviously), but for kids in grade 11 and 12…they’re going to see and hear a lot worse on television on an ordinary day.
2. It’s a zombie novel, but it’s an intelligent zombie novel.
This isn’t just a “Run! The zombies are gonna kill us all!” zombie novel. Feed takes place twenty years after the Rising and Mira Grant has done some amazingly realistic projections about a society post-apocalypse. The rise of the bloggers, blood testing technology, the threat of weaponized Kellis-Amberlee, security at the price of freedom…all these topics can be used to bring up topics that are relevant today. If you were to pick just one of these topics to debate, I think ‘security at the price of freedom’ would bring out some of the best and worst in high school students, depending on how politically aware they are.
Since Mira Grant goes into the nitty-gritty of the Kellis-Amberlee virus, students can discuss the plausibility of such an outbreak and I guarantee that ‘zombie virus’ research projects would elicit an enthusiastic response. Other possible essay topics could include why bloggers gain more power after the Rising, biological/chemical warfare in the ancient and modern world, how the 40lbs amplification threshold would change the world as we know it, the ethics of journalism and if there are times when the truth shouldn’t be told…I could go on and on. The point is that there are so many topics brought up in Feed you could spend a whole year on it.
3. It has something for everyone.
You don’t have to be a zombie-obsessed to love Feed. Heck, I was terrified of zombies until I read the Newsflesh Trilogy. The best books are the ones that can be understood on different levels and appreciated by many different people. Feed is one of them.
For some people, it can just be a zombie survival novel. For the politically inclined, it could be a warning against genetic modification and the government gaining too much power in the name of safety. It can be a tale of friendship conflicting with personal beliefs. It can be blogger-revenge on the traditional media and an important lesson about blogger ethics. Really, it can be anything to anyone! And that’s the beauty of it: when teachers set an assignment asking what it means to students, there is no wrong answer.
Feed is the kind of book that inspires extreme views; either you absolutely love it or you absolutely abhor it. As far as I can tell, most people absolutely love it. That’s why I confidently recommended it to Caleb from 20four12 and many others. That’s why I’m sticking my neck out here to recommend it as a novel study book. I don’t think any educators will listen to some nobody blogger, but I’m just putting the thought out there.
So, what books do you think should be studied in school? Would you have loved novel study more if you read something like Feed?