What Goes in a Middle School Library?

28 Feb

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Copyright 2002
Audiobook 2003 Read by David Alan Baker

Of all the things that student teaching taught me, there’s one that sticks out.  All books do not belong in all libraries.  I would love to have all books in all libraries, but the reality is there is a limit of shelving and money and books have to be chosen.  Just because a book does not appear in YOUR middle school library does not mean you shouldn’t read it, it just means there are other consideration.  I think limiting books in my library is still the hardest job.

Yes, the book Feed has been out for 10 years.  And, yes, I’ve been meaning to read it.  But when I saw the audio book at my public library, I got very excited.  I have a rather long commute now and it was an irresistible chance to review an audio book.

Feed is the new 1984 society.  Everyone who is anyone has the feed.  Wherever you go, the feed lets you know what the sales are, where the best times and tracks you personally.  You have access to your favorite shows, the current styles, stores and advertisements 24/7.  Everyone is happy with the feed in this dystopian society.  Which is the exact reason its terrifying.

The book is written like Huckleberry Finn in the 1984 society.  The vernacular is  hard to follow and a little annoying as this group of teens travel to the Moon for Spring Break.  They meet an odd, beautiful teenage girl Violet, take her with them to a nightclub, and get hacked.  For everyone else, the hack which affects their feed is scary and annoying.  For Violet, it may become fatal.  Titus, the” meg” normal teenager, finds himself attracted to Violet, the odd girl who is homeschooled and got the feed as a child and not a baby. Violet questions their society which makes her odd.  She reads about other countries and is interested in the news.  Its a completely foreign concept for the other teens.  Besides the 1984-ish isolation of their society, their bodies are actually breaking down due to the feed.

Having listened to 5+ hours of David Alan Baker’s voice, I can’t imagine another sound for Titus.   But the difference in this audio book are the commercial feed interruptions.  The written word does not capture the truly annoying feed that the audio book provides.  It brought this book to life in a whole new way.  Its an incredible story, but the language is fairly constant with sh*& and f*&^.  For that reason alone, I reluctantly decided it couldn’t be in my middle school library.  Still I highly recommend the book and I hope my more mature students will venture out and read (or listen to!) it anyway.

Recommended: Grades 9 & up

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