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Blake Crouch's Recursion meets Mad Max and The Girl with All the Gifts in this startling and timely debut that explores what it is to be human and what it truly means to be connected in the digital age.
The Feed is accessible everywhere, by everyone, at any time. It instantaneously links us to all information and global events as they break. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it; it is the essential tool everyone relies on to know and understand the thoughts and feelings of partners, parents, friends, children, colleagues, bosses, employees . . . in fact, of anyone and everyone else in the world.
Tom and Kate use the Feed, but Tom has resisted its addiction, which makes him suspect to his family. After all, his father created it. But that opposition to constant connection serves Tom and Kate well when the Feed collapses after a horrific tragedy shatters the world as they know it.
The Feed’s collapse, taking modern society with it, leaves people scavenging to survive. Finding food is truly a matter of life and death. Minor ailments, previously treatable, now kill. And while the collapse has demolished the trappings of the modern world, it has also eroded trust. In a world where survival of the fittest is a way of life, there is no one to depend upon except yourself . . . and maybe even that is no longer true.
Tom and Kate have managed to protect themselves and their family. But then their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing. Who has taken her? How do you begin to look for someone in a world without technology? And what happens when you can no longer even be certain that the people you love are really who they claim to be?
This heavily speculative postapocalyptic thriller complicates a basic what-if question what if the internet were connected directly to people's brains? with somewhat ad hoc plot developments. When the brain-linking global network called the Feed collapsed, it took society with it. Six years later, Tom and Kate, a couple with a history of going "slow" (disconnecting from the Feed), struggle to get a viable survivor community going, and partial memories and rare hard-copy texts are their only sources of vital information. When their daughter, Bea, is kidnapped by outlaws who drive a horse-drawn, spike-covered minivan, Tom and Kate must quest through the new wilderness of abandoned suburbs and wreck-jammed highways, dealing with other suspicious survivors and settlements run by people whose original identities were overwritten through their Feed implants while they slept. Debut novelist Windo makes the loss of modern society very personal, with close portraits of how his characters are worn down by the basic work of premodern life. Unfortunately, his tendency to layer in greater and greater revelations breaks the sense of intimacy that comes from focusing on his forsaken internet addicts. Perhaps ironically, readers will struggle to connect with this novel.
This story frightened me. It is, in a certain way quite analogous to the lives many of us have today. It is "today" with the volume and the contrast turned way up. In essence, it is utterly believable and perhaps in a certain way, prescient. I love the emotional depth of the characters. Have you ever gone to the mall and seen a group of teenagers walking together quietly, all with their heads bent over their smart phones, not talking to each other?
Well written, chilling story with humanity reclaimed at the end with the characters scarred, forgiving, grieving, and loving.