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POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Twenty-Five

Good morning, everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic weekend so far! As many of you know, my mum had surgery on Thursday, June 11th, to remove a second brain tumor. The surgery took a little less than five hours, but was successful, and she is doing very well. Mum was able to come home from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, and is continuing to recover at home. We are very glad to have her home, and she is thrilled to be out of the hospital. Thank you again to all of you who have been keeping her in your thoughts and prayers!

After taking a week-long break from the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, this week I dove back into prompt-related reading, and managed to complete two additional Reading Challenge prompts. This brings my current total to 41 completed prompts (out of 50), which is just over 80% Reading Challenge completion!

A book by or about a journalist…

The first book I read this week was Feed, the first book in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy.

“Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years; with an idiot — in this case, my brother Shaun — deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.”

Feed, by Mira Grant (page 5)

Feed follows the stories of Georgia and Shaun Mason, online journalists living in a world where zombies are no longer fiction, but a part of everyday life. They, along with their friend and co-worker Buffy Meissonier, are hired to follow the campaign of presidential hopeful Senator Ryman. In a world where travel is risky at best, the senator has decided to run as traditional a campaign as possible, which includes frequent appearances across the country, and meeting the public face-to-face.

Unfortunately, someone seems to be gunning for the senator, and they’re not afraid to use “the infected” to do their dirty work. As Georgia and Shaun begin to uncover the truth of a possible conspiracy surrounding the election, they have to make a decision. Is this a story worth dying for?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a bit of a scaredy-cat, and people are often surprised by the fact that I actually do read and enjoy books from the horror genre. I am somewhat picky about my choice of horror novels though, and Feed is one of very few that I have read multiple times. I first read the book when it was originally released, and I’ve been continuing to follow the series as it has expanded. Currently, Mira Grant has published five books set in this universe, including: the original trilogy (Feed, Deadline, and Blackout), a collection of short stories and novellas called Rise, and Feedback, which takes place during the same time period as Feed, but follows another team of journalists.

One of the things that I find interesting about Feed is that it’s not strictly a horror novel. While zombies are certainly an element of horror genre fiction, the novel also includes elements that are common to medical thrillers. For example, the zombies in Feed were created by an interaction between two infectious cures (one for the common cold, and one for cancer). Both cures work great on their own, but when they eventually combined in the world’s population…let’s just say they’re a little too good at what they do, and make what should be a horror movie scenario a fact of life.

Of course, once you add in political campaigning, journalists seeking to uncover the truth, and possible election interference, the novel takes on the added dimension of a political thriller. It’s the combination of these three (horror, medical thriller, and political thriller) that makes Feed so interesting to me.

But what I love most about Feed are its characters, especially Georgia Mason, the book’s narrator. Her integrity as a journalist, the way she interacts with friends and family, and her approach to the book’s narration have all been a big part of why I continue to return to the world of this novel.

There are some moments in this book that are very hard to take, involving the deaths of both people and animals, along with a level of violence and gore that is consistent with many works of fiction (both books and movies) involving zombies. Feed was definitely written for an adult audience, and the overall content is reflective of that. Despite the fact that I have read it several times, Feed is one of those books that I could only read during certain times of the day (i.e. only when it’s light outside, never before bed) if I wanted to avoid zombie-related dreams.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, especially books featuring zombies, you will probably really enjoy Feed (as well as the rest of the books in the series). If you have the opportunity to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A book about or involving social media…

The other book I finished this week was Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets Or Less, by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin.

Twitterature is a unique book in that the authors’ purpose is to make some of “the classics” accessible for people who just do not have the time or inclination to read them in their entirity. The back of the book describes Twitterature as both an “irreverent re-imagining of the classics” and “the ultimate Cliffs Notes.” The books are adapted into a series of tweets written by one of the main characters. Some of the included titles are: The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, Beowulf, Sherlock Holmes, Crime and Punishment, and Dracula (among many others).

I had a really hard time getting through this book, mostly due to the fact that I must have skipped over the “irreverent re-imagining” part when I read the book’s description online. As a result, I was very disappointed in the execution of what I initially thought was a clever idea.

Rather than serving as a faithful adaptation of classic literature, Twitterature is better described as a parody. The tweets often skip over important details, present characters in ways that are inconsistent with the original texts, and completely ignore the themes of the vast majority of the included titles. Even if the authors had chosen not to take an “irreverent” approach to these classic novels, however, it would have been extremely difficult to compress the plot of an entire book into a handful of tweets. Ultimately, if you are looking for a comprehensive guide to classic books, Twitterature is not the book you’re looking for.

Honestly, I did not enjoy this book. I am not a fan of parodies, and had I read the book’s description more carefully, I would not have picked it up in the first place. While it does fulfill a POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt, and may appeal to readers who enjoy parodies, I personally cannot recommend reading it.

If you are interested in reading Twitterature, you should be aware that this book includes content which may cause emotional distress for readers, including, but not limited to: references to sexual assault/rape, sexual content involving minors, pervasive profanity, and violence.

This week’s reads landed on opposite ends of the enjoyment spectrum, but I did enjoy getting back into the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. While I’ve been refraining from setting reading goals over the past several weeks, this week I am going to be setting one. My goal is to make it to 90% challenge completion by the end of June, which means I need to complete four additional prompts in the next 10 days. I’ll be sure to update you on my progress in next Saturday’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge post.

In the meantime, I hope you will check back frequently next week for book reviews and other new content.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay healthy!

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