Sent to me by Headline in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 25/01/18
Format: Paperback, 368pp
Summed up in a word: Re-education
I have been reading a lot of technopocalypse novels recently and it takes quite a bit to get me to the edge of my seat when reading one. I can safely say that The Feed was tense, inventive and gritty enough to keep me engrossed all the way through. Nick Clark Windo has created a superb effort for his debut and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy fearsome, near-future SF thrillers that suck the reader into a world of survival, relentless danger and nail-biting tension. Thank you for stopping by to check out my review here as part of the #NeedtheFeed blogtour hosted by Headline. Please check out the other blogs taking part in the tour. Information below.
A gripping post-apocalyptic thriller for fans of The Passage and The Girl With All the Gifts that asks: what would you sacrifice to save the world?
Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you. Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?
For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.
The threat is closer than they realise…
There are a lot of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it SF thrillers coming out at the moment so it is harder to stand out in a more saturated genre. It is a great thing that Nick Clark Windo has managed to create a debut so gripping that I can say with certainty that you need to check this novel out! And soon! NCW’s vision of the end of our world is shocking, anarchic and filled with people who are hopelessly addicted to a dead technology. Humanity has reverted back to a primitive stage in our existence and even those who have survived are under constant attack either from savages, wild animals or an unknown source that is hacking people’s brains in their sleep. The world that NCW has built over the course of this novel is desolate, lawless and survival is a grand effort. The Feed is a perfect combination of The Walking Dead meets Black Mirror with a great helping of NCW’s tempestuous, punchy and observant writing.
The Feed follows a married couple, Tom and Kate, and their existence in a post-apocalyptic world. After a major event called The Collapse a super-technology known as ‘The Feed’ went down and humanity was left with nothing but psychological damage and memory problems. Vital knowledge is forgotten; important skills like speech have to be learnt again and those who have survived all these years are barely getting by. ‘The Feed’ was a high-speed, implanted information highway that people could be permanently connected to. It was a dynamic technology that overlapped normal consciousness with access to every kind of information. I was amazed by the Feed sections of the text (I was kind of glad they are few and far between). Pulse raisingly fast with condensed information calculated down to the millisecond. Taking account of everything from distance, heart rate, chemical levels, social media, family chats and so much more. It is truly overwhelming at times; it kind of makes me want this technology but after seeing the possible consequences maybe I will pass.
Tom and Kate are surviving and, along with their six year old daughter Bea, they are living in a community and they are happy. The only threat to them are the invasions that keep happening to people who have the old feed technology in their heads. An outside force is randomly hacking people’s brains and replacing them with new consciousnesses. Assassins, killers, lunatics and many other threatening presences. People in groups like Tom and Kate sleep in shifts to keep an eye out for the telltale signs of someone being ‘taken’. Those who are taken are killed immediately. This plays a huge part in the narrative and it was a superb idea which NCW executed perfectly. The peace is disrupted during a raid in which the children of the community are taken. Tom and Kate scrabble to find Bea, trekking far and wide to find her.
Told from both Tom and Kate’s perspectives, we learn all about the world that they used to inhabit as well as the hell they now occupy. I like this duo and their search for Bea was passionate and gut-wrenching. Plus their constant suspicions that they aren’t who they say they are just adds another welcome curve ball into the mix. Their navigation of the hellish landscape exhausted me and I was sat in a comfy chair! The setting and technology that NCW has crafted for this novel is its best features. The Feed is a captivating idea and humanity’s dependence on it is their eventual demise. The Feed intimately explores the psychology surrounding our addiction to technology and gives us the ‘head in a bucket of iced water’ wake-up call that our need for devices like The Feed are going to be our undoing. This world is coarse, depleted and scarred. The Feed does feel a tad too ‘worst case scenario’ as NCW does over accentuate his points with over dark tones and atmospheres at times but this story is meant to be shocking; to grab you and shake you up.
Nick Clark Windo has done a remarkable job with his debut. I can see The Feed being very popular among readers and hopefully it might even make it to TV someday. NCW has a great textured writing style that combines the observant, desperate and chaos ridden calamity of an apocalypse with the gritty darkness of a barely surviving humankind. Yes it is as intense as it sounds. My favourite part to this novel is most certainly the unpredictability factor which is off the charts. I had no idea where this narrative was taking me and I just went along for the ride.
My least favourite aspect was definitely the pacing. Very erratic and rushed in places; it was easy to miss important details that I had to go back to spot again. The writing is concise, punchy and is designed to clamp the reader in its jaws of alternative reality which I agree works really well despite the jumpy development of the story. The Feed is only 350ish pages long so the fast paced writing made it seem like I almost read this in two sittings so if you like a novel that you can devour then this is definitely for you. I thought the themes were well thought out and relevant in such a modern storyline. NCW taps into addiction, loss, demise, capability, mind control and trust to name just a few of the many different dimensions there are to the message this novel brings to us all.
Overall this is both a cracking debut and a fantastic addition to the technopocalypse genre that seems to be growing ever larger as technology advances. The writing and concepts explored within this story made it such a satisfying, though upsetting at times, narrative. I admit that this wasn’t quite what I imagined it was going to be but I do like surprises and I think a lot of the SF Thriller lovers out there are going to love this as much as I did. I am glad I had the chance to read The Feed when I did, I am going to enjoy seeing other people’s reactions to this unhinged chaos. I can’t wait to get involved in more of NCW’s novels very soon!
About Nick Clark Windo
Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge University and acting at RADA. As well as writing, he works as a film producer and communications coach. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. The Feed is his first novel.