Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I was afraid I'd eat your brains"

I almost didn't buy Feed.

I love Seanan McGuire's writing. (It is a very open secret that Mira Grant, the author of Feed,  is a pseudonym for Seanan McGuire.) Her Toby Daye series is fabulous. I nominated McGuire for the Campbell award this year. She's really, really good.

But, oh, zombies. Gentle readers, I think my brain was broken earlier this year when I saw an anthology titled My Zombie Valentine. (No, I'm not linking to it. Yes, it exists. Do you honestly think I would make that up?) The rotting shambling undead are many things. Sexy is not one of them. Something that wants to eat your brains is a really bad Valentine. You shouldn't need a book to tell you this.

So when I started to hear the buzz about Feed, my initial reaction was a sigh. Because, really, another book about zombies? 

Feed is not just another book about zombies. Feed is about politics and terrorism and truth. Feed is about fear, and how that is just as much of a weapon as a bomb, or a syringe full of virus. It is the kind of book that I want to buy extra copies of so I can stuff it into the hands of all my friends. (Seriously, I raved about it for a good five minutes at the party for my Goddaughter's baptism this weekend.)

Reading this book made me realize that what I'm sick of isn't zombies per se, (or werewolves, another supernatural creature of the week that annoys me to the point of not reading). What I'm sick of is lazy writing. 

One of Feed's many strengths is that it completely imagines the society in which the book is set. The world is real, and fully built. Too many books don't think through all of their elements, and so a woman's sexy and mysterious new neighbor turns out to be a vampire because vampires are sexy and mysterious and over the course of the book it turns out he's no different than any other guy except for being extra sexy and mysterious.

That is what I am tired of. If we, as writers, are going to put the supernatural or the superpowered into our books, we owe it to ourselves and our stories to do it right. We can - and should - write smarter. Because that is what makes better stories. 

Rise up while you can.

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