BOOK REVIEW: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

BOOK REVIEW: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

January 2018
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Speculative Fiction


THE FEED by Nick Clark Windo is a startling and timely debut which presents a world as unique and vividly imagined as STATION ELEVEN and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS and explores what it is to be human in the digital age.

It makes us. It destroys us. 

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it.

Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it. And this will serve them well when The Feed collapses.

Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing.

Because how do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?


This is a story of a world with implants in people’s heads which give them access to ALL OF THE INFORMATION EVER in less than the blink of an eye. It’s a story about what happens to the world when the feed goes down and people don’t even know how to live for themselves anymore, because all that info was stored on the cloud. This is a story about how, in the time after the feed, a person’s own implant can be used against them, and their own consciousness can be overwritten by someone, something else.

Or, at least… that’s what the blurb suggests, and that’s what is hinted at in the early chapters. But the reality is just so much more… dull than all of that.

The summary offers up feelings of Black Mirror, and blurb likens it to Station Eleven and The Girl with All the Gifts, and while I haven’t read the former, the likening of this story to TGWATG is downright insulting. And suuuuuuper disappointing.

There were many things I didn’t like about this book, one of my most anticipated titles for the year, but we could be here all day. So let’s break it down into the main annoyances.

The Characters:

  • They’re not well-developed at all.
  • They’re reactionary, and only do anything when outside forces manipulate them to do so (emphasis on the manipulation which is clearly meant to work on the reader but just doesn’t).
  • The relationships between them feel far from realistic.

The Plot:

  • What plot?
  • Until the 50% mark, there is very little here besides plodding along and… reacting to things. It’s dull.
  • The first 50% reads like something you could find in stories like Walking Dead and TGWATG, but way less interesting. It has that same backdrop of a desolated, deserted world, where all but a small percentage of the population have died off or been turned into these “invaders”, and that’s really all I can say about the first half. Not because there are spoilers, but because SO LITTLE HAPPENS.
  • The twist, when it is revealed halfway in, will not surprise readers of the genre.
  • The science of the implants didn’t seem particularly believable (not the fact that they connect people to the internet, but other things that are revealed later on. These I can’t tell you because of spoilers).

We Miss ALL of the Action:

  • We start out the night The Feed goes down, and then rejoin the characters SIX YEARS later. We explore the time The Feed was active for a whopping 5% of the book, and that’s with me rounding up.
  • This is something that was a big annoyance for me with Defender by G. X. Todd. We have an interesting premise, and the fun of it would be to see how people react in the immediacy of it, as their world is changing. But instead, we miss all of the interesting stuff and are delivered this boring nothingness that fails to be enjoyable, and to stand out in the genre by exploring that different plot point.
  • The only reason for starting the main story six years later, so far as I can tell, is so the author can try for another twist in the final chapters, which could have been interesting, but again fails to engage the reader, and is actually kind of frustrating. I can’t tell you what it is because massive spoilers, but it’s a twist on something every single writing teacher ever has told students not to do because it’s lazy storytelling. It’s NOT that thing, but it’s close enough to leave this reader uncomfortable and unsatisfied about having pushed on through the story to arrive there.

The Format:

  • We don’t get chapters, just scene breaks.
  • Sorry, we do actually get chapters, but there are around 5 or 6 throughout the book, so several “chapters” go on for hundreds of pages.
  • The abundance of scene breaks makes it hard for readers to differentiate the passing of an hour from the passing of a week.

In the end, this was not engaging, and it was clear to see where the author was trying to manipulate readers into caring by putting children and animals in the path of danger, which meant it wasn’t successful because it was just too heavy-handed.

I had actually given up on this book (not actively… but I had set it aside and didn’t feel any great desire to continue) at around 40% for about two weeks, until I read in another review that there was a twist around 40% in, so I got the audio to keep pushing through on my long drives to work.

My advice would be if you’re going to do this one, get the audio. The narrators are quite good (including the author), and it does somewhat disguise the areas where the writing is lacking, such as the characterisation and the world-building.

If you enjoyed books like Defender, you might find something to like here, too, but for this reader it was a big miss from one of most anticipated premises of 2018.

BOOK REVIEW: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

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