Feed is post-zombie-apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse in this case was not as bad as it usually is -- instead of "nearly everybody died except the handful of survivors this story follows", it's "about one-third of the population died in the initial outbreak", which was somewhere between 20 and 30 years before the time of the novel. (The timing in this novel is weird. The back cover says "20 years earlier". At one point in the book, the narrator says 'about thirty year ago'. I think at still another point, the year of the outbreak is given as 2014, and the time of the book is 2040. Moving on.) Zombie-ism is caused by a virus, and the infection is still ongoing. The entire human population and all mammals above 40 pounds are infected with an inactive form of the virus; it activates when the body dies or when additional live virus enters the bloodstream -- eg, by zombie bite. The end result is the zombies we all know. Charmingly, the author does not set her novel in an alternate universe where zombie fiction never existed, so people quickly recognized zombies for what they are.
The zombies are more backdrop than focus for the story, which is mainly "three bloggers cover a presidential campaign, and in the process uncover the tip of an evil conspiracy, then dig around to find out who is behind it, and what it is".
This novel is book one of a trilogy, and I assume in the other two books you find out more about the conspiracy and the why. This one gives you one of the players but really a "what the hell were the rest of the people in this conspiracy thinking?"
Feed is well written and engaging -- y'know, my foray into The Awful Book has given me renewed appreciation for decent authors. Maybe I should read more stuff by terrible writers in order to enjoy the good ones more. Okay, maybe not.
I knew the book would be depressing, and so I tried not to get too attached to the characters, but failed. The book has a wonderful asexual love story** between the narrator and her brother, who are adorable in a sibling-like way -- you know, they tease one another constantly but also adore each other and get along great.
If I liked depressing books, I would give Feed an 8. It might have been a 9, except that there were a few too many points where things just didn't make sense to me even within the constraints of the setting.
But I don't like depressing books. I am sitting here all depressed and I don't want to read the rest of this well-crafted series because depressed and I can't imagine anything in them that will make me feel better. At the end of Feed, one of the characters asks another "Was it worth it?" and the answer is a clear "No." I know just how that character feels, and I don't want to.
* Why do I still remember reviews years after I've read them? It's weird.
** I assume there is a TV Trope name for this, because it is totally A Thing -- where you have two or more characters who are not in an even remotely sexual or romantic (in the "hearts and flowers" sense) relationship, but whose bond exceeds "friendship" and the usual bonds of "family" by the kind of margin one usually only sees in romance.