Seventeen-year-old Anya has been orphaned by rebel forces who killed her parents during a home invasion. When her older brother leaves to get help, Anya is saved by the government – or so she thinks.
Taken to Arcis for a young adult training program, she is put to work in the main government building. There she is tasked with cleaning the atrium floors of the debris that occasionally falls from overhead walkways: sometime coffee cups, occasionally acid, and after every new work rotation, dead bodies. Meanwhile, her older brother Jason is sent to work in the food preparation facility, where the government adds antidepressants and mood stabilizers to everything. Soon, he is adopted into the ranks of a resistance group.
Meanwhile, Anya’s crush Dominic has been selected to move on to the next step of the training process, and Anya is determined to follow him. Completing tasks gets her moved onto the first floor of the building, where there are new jobs to attempt. On each floor the group of teens are taught, tested, and studied. The ground floor taught them structure; the first floor, working under pressure. Then altruism, problem solving, class structure, competition, humility, morals, and life skills, all the way up to the ninth floor—the top floor, where nobody ever leaves. At least, not where anyone in Arcis can see them.
Feeder is so fun and exciting — it’s a totally fresh take on the genre.
But, of course, I did have a couple teeny tiny criticisms: first, the characters are a little stereotypical, especially in appearance. Dominic is the only main character who’s obviously not white, and Anya has never seen anyone like him before (he has dreadlocks, which she thinks are super weird). That attempt at diversity felt heavy handed, and a tad forced.
Second, there were just too many vaguely important characters rotating in and out of the plot. By the third floor I was already getting confused as to who was who, whether or not I had met them before, and why they were important. The addition of Anya’s brother and the rebel group made it even more confusing.
And third, I’m honestly still not really sure why Anya was so important. She’s not particularly heroic in any usual dystopian-teen-main-character way, she doesn’t have a particularly useful background story, and she’s not wildly intelligent. But the characters around her seem to really, really want her to be their savior. For example, at the beginning of the book, Anya seems to feel absolutely no need to progress in the training program — she’s satisfied just cleaning floors. But Dominic and the others decide to bring her with them by motivating her to move up in the program. How do they do that? By channeling Anya’s Female Jealousy, of course. That amazing emotion that can get a girl to do absolutely anything if she thinks her man is being stolen by another girl. Weirdly, the characters expect this strategy to work even though Anya’s supposedly emotionless from the mood-stabilizing food.
By the end of the book, though, I was totally and completely sucked in. Who’s good? Who’s bad? What’s up with the robot wolves? WhAT hApPenS On THe NinTH FLooR?!?
I rate Feeder an A, and I’ll definitely be reading the sequel. Feeder ends on a cliffhanger—how could I resist?