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The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

It makes us. It destroys us.

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it.

Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it. And this will serve them well when The Feed collapses.

Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing.

Because how do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?

Imagine that there was a single social media network, far more invasive than what we know now. In The Feed everyone is connected to everything. You can speak to friends and family immediately; all knowledge is available to you, humanity lives in a golden age. People’s emotions don’t need to be second-guessed anymore, you just know what they are feeling. Sounds pretty wonderful doesn’t it? You’d rely on this technological miracle wouldn’t you? I’d imagine you would give yourself over to the experience. Maybe you’d discover you were not able to function without it.  Now, imagine that The Feed was suddenly gone. Everything you had taken for granted was absent. Without that intimate connection that helped shape your personality, how do you interact with others? The Feed was your everything, and then in a split second it was gone. How would you cope? In fact, could you cope?

Tom and Kate have just about managed to survive the collapse of society. Living in the middle of nowhere, their hand to mouth existence is driven by protecting their daughter, Bea. She offers that one tiny glimmer of hope that keeps both of her parents going.   When Bea disappears, the cracks in Kate and Tom’s already brittle relationship start to spread.  You can’t help but empathise with these two characters. Trying to survive in a world where resources are scarce, and knowledge is disappearing, is a daily struggle. Tom and Kate deal with the trauma in different ways. Tom becomes increasing withdrawn, while Kate starts to question their entire relationship.  The couple begin a journey that they hope will lead then back to Bea.

Some chapters offer glimpses of what Tom and Kate’s life was like prior to The Feed disappearing. One aspect of their lives that really struck a chord was the way Kate interacted with technology. Pre society’s collapse, Kate ran a popular online poll called What Would You Sacrifice. Ultimately I think that this is exactly what The Feed is about. Understanding the true nature of sacrifice, the nature of trust and what it means to be part of a relationship. When all the comfort and reassurance of your regular existence disappears, it is going to change you at a fundamental level. You’re going to be forced to face yourself and ask some difficult questions. What would you give up for your family? Is there a line you could not cross or would you be prepared to do anything? I am sure we’ve all pondered these moral dilemmas at one time or another. Nick Clark Windo’s debut novel forces the reader to confront this question head on.

Suffice to say that you do discover what caused the collapse of The Feed, and then society as a whole. There is a whole thread to the narrative that I am going to purposefully ignore for fear of spoilers. That is one reveal that is far better discovered when you read the book yourself. All I’ll say is that I didn’t see it coming and the payoff is heart-breaking.

I’ll admit, I’m a self-confessed social media junkie. For years now I’ve thrust many of my more coherent thoughts out into the ether*1. This is why I love the central concept of The Feed. I have friends who I know can’t function for more than about five minutes without checking their phones. It’s infuriating when you are attempting to socialise in real life but that’s a whole other story. Hell, it melts my brain that my various nieces and nephews have grown up in a world where smartphones are taken for granted. I still remember when a phone was just a phone (ok, now I sound like a grumpy old man. I promise I’m not. I’m a grumpy middle-aged man.) I can hardly comprehend the possibility that one day this could just disappear. I guess that makes me just about the perfect target audience for this story?

After finishing The Feed I had a profound desire to take a social media break. In fact, I’ll go further, I feel like part of me needs to know if I can exist without access to the Internet*2. There is a very distinct message in this novel. If we rely too much on technology do we risk losing that spark that makes each of us the individuals that we are. Sometimes bleak, in other moments hopeful, The Feed is exactly the sort of genre fiction I tend to gravitate toward. Nick Clark Windo counterpoints a riveting plot with insightful moments of quiet contemplation. Tom and Kate’s story ends on a poignant, bittersweet note. This feels perfectly judged as it rounds off a truly remarkable read.

While reading The Feed I found myself mostly listening to The Humans soundtrack by Cristobal Tapia De Veer. Something about those ambient electronic sounds manage to capture the same tone as the novel. I can certainly recommend this music as a suitable accompaniment to the novel.

The Feed is published by Headline and is available now.  Highly recommended

*1Are these bon mots profound, world shattering insights? No, mostly they fall into one of three categories. (1) Look at what I’ve just eaten (2) You should love thing A because I love it (3) You should not like thing B because I don’t.

*2 I suspect the answer is going to be a resounding no. I’d probably not last much more than about five minutes.

The Feed: A chilling, dystopian page-turner with a twist that will make your head explode

New From: £8.30 GBP In Stock
Release date January 25, 2018.

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