Book Reviews: FEED, by MJ Howes
by M J Howes Published by Chicken House
on 2 January 2014 Format:
Taken, frozen and eaten - this is the fate facing the human race from enemy invaders - unless fourteen-year-olds Lola and Patrick can stop them.
Review by Rachel Hamilton:
If you like your monsters with a Darren Shan-esque blend of intelligence and gore (intelligore?), and you like your openings intense and mysterious, then FEED by MJ Howes is the book for you. The intriguing premise will grab your attention, and the antics of the gutsy heroine, Lola, and her super-brain sidekick, Patrick, will keep you gripped until the very end.
MJ Howes knows how to tell a good story. The early chapters are layered with suspense, and speculation gradually evolves into horror in a claustrophobic chase through darkness and desperation. The pace is frenetic, with no words wasted, and at times things can seem a little rushed but, arguably, that’s representative of the environment in which Lola and her friends are trapped.
The author doesn’t shy away from showing captives being brutally savaged by aliens, but she also takes the time to develop relationships between characters, which give the book its heart. Perhaps it could be argued that the main characters are too good to be true, with Lola attracting both humans and aliens despite being unwashed and half-starved, and Patrick outsmarting highly-evolved, supremely intelligent aliens, but you’re so busy wondering what’s going to happen next that it doesn’t matter.
I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, which is well thought out and ultimately satisfying, but there are several levels on which this book can be read. It’s a spine-chilling thriller, but it is also an interesting exploration of our conviction we can treat Earth’s other inhabitants however we please, as long as our own needs are met. As one character asks:
“Do we ask a herd of deer their permission before we hunt them? No, we just do it. We see them as food, and that’s how Arlatans see us”
Undeniably gory and the stuff nightmares are made of, FEED is also an original and thought-provoking tale of human relationships, both with each other and across species, which keeps you wondering until the very end.
This story was read as part of the Debut Author Challenge, 2014, hosted by Story Siren.
An interview with the wonderful MJ Howes will be appearing on site soon. Watch this space.