By Mira Grant

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Feed is an electrifying and critically acclaimed novel of a world a half-step from our own that the New York Times calls “Astonishing” — a novel of zombies, geeks, politics, social media, and the virus that runs through them all — from New York Times bestseller Mira Grant.
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.
Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

More from Mira Grant:
Praise for Feed:
"I can't wait for the next book."―N.K. Jemisin
"It's a novel with as much brains as heart, and both are filling and delicious."―The A. V. Club
"Gripping, thrilling, and brutal… McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported."―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Feed is a proper thriller with zombies.” SFX


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Table of Contents

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A Preview of Love Minus Eighty

Orbit Newsletter

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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. As if we didn't already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isn't a surprise. It hasn't been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasn't a surprise then.

When the infected first appeared—heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at hand—they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.

There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came into range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were past being upset about that sort of thing. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, that being the way of things. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have idiots prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my brother and why he probably won't live a long and fulfilling life.

"Hey, George, check this out!" he shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with his hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swiping at him ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and didn't have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Shaun's hands. I'll give Shaun this much: He knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. "We're playing patty-cake!"

"Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike," I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. His current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that didn't mean there wasn't a healthier pack roaming the area. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You don't go there unless you're suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I can't guess which of those options applies to Shaun.

"Can't talk right now! I'm busy making friends with the locals!"

"Shaun Phillip Mason, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to God, I am going to drive away and leave you here."

Shaun looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as he planted the end of his hockey stick at the center of the zombie's chest to keep it at a safe distance. "Really? You'd do that for me? Because 'My Sister Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle' would make a great article."

"A posthumous one, maybe," I snapped. "Get back on the goddamn bike!"

"In a minute!" he said, laughing, and turned back toward his moaning friend.

In retrospect, that's when everything started going wrong.

The pack had probably been stalking us since before we hit the city limits, gathering reinforcements from all over the county as they approached. Packs of infected get smarter and more dangerous the larger they become. Groups of four or less are barely a threat unless they can corner you, but a pack of twenty or more stands a good chance of breaching any barrier the uninfected try to put up. You get enough of the infected together and they'll start displaying pack hunting techniques; they'll start using actual tactics. It's like the virus that's taken them over starts to reason when it gets enough hosts in the same place. It's scary as hell, and it's just about the worst nightmare of anyone who regularly goes into zombie territory—getting cornered by a large group that knows the land better than you do.

These zombies knew the land better than we did, and even the most malnourished and virus-ridden pack knows how to lay an ambush. A low moan echoed from all sides, and then they were shambling into the open, some moving with the slow lurch of the long infected, others moving at something close to a run. The runners led the pack, cutting off three of the remaining methods of escape before there was time to do more than stare. I looked at them and shuddered.

Fresh infected—really fresh ones—still look almost like the people that they used to be. Their faces show emotion, and they move with a jerkiness that could just mean they slept wrong the night before. It's harder to kill something that still looks like a person, and worst of all, the bastards are fast. The only thing more dangerous than a fresh zombie is a pack of them, and I counted at least eighteen before I realized that it didn't matter, and stopped bothering.

I grabbed my helmet and shoved it on without fastening the strap. If the bike went down, dying because my helmet didn't stay on would be one of the better options. I'd reanimate, but at least I wouldn't be aware of it. "Shaun!"

Shaun whipped around, staring at the emerging zombies. "Whoa."

Unfortunately for Shaun, the addition of that many zombies had turned his buddy from a stupid solo into part of a thinking mob. The zombie grabbed the hockey stick as soon as Shaun's attention was focused elsewhere, yanking it out of his hands. Shaun staggered forward and the zombie latched onto his cardigan, withered fingers locking down with deceptive strength. It hissed. I screamed, images of my inevitable future as an only child filling my mind.

"Shaun!" One bite and things would get a lot worse. There's not much worse than being cornered by a pack of zombies in downtown Santa Cruz. Losing Shaun would qualify.

The fact that my brother convinced me to take a dirt bike into zombie territory doesn't make me an idiot. I was wearing full off-road body armor, including a leather jacket with steel armor joints attached at the elbows and shoulders, a Kevlar vest, motorcycling pants with hip and knee protectors, and calf-high riding boots. It's bulky as hell, and I don't care, because once you factor in my gloves, my throat's the only target I present in the field.

Shaun, on the other hand, is a moron and had gone zombie baiting in nothing more defensive than a cardigan, a Kevlar vest, and cargo pants. He won't even wear goggles—he says they "spoil the effect." Unprotected mucous membranes can spoil a hell of a lot more than that, but I practically have to blackmail him to get him into the Kevlar. Goggles are a nonstarter.

There's one advantage to wearing a sweater in the field, no matter how idiotic I think it is: wool tears. Shaun ripped himself free and turned, running for the motorcycle with great speed, which is really the only effective weapon we have against the infected. Not even the fresh ones can keep up with an uninfected human over a short sprint. We have speed, and we have bullets. Everything else about this fight is in their favor.

"Shit, George, we've got company!" There was a perverse mixture of horror and delight in his tone. "Look at 'em all!"

"I'm looking! Now get on!"

I kicked us free as soon as he had his leg over the back of the bike and his arm around my waist. The bike leapt forward, tires bouncing and shuddering across the broken ground as I steered us into a wide curve. We needed to get out of there, or all the protective gear in the world wouldn't do us a damn bit of good. I might live if the zombies caught up with us, but my brother would be dragged into the mob. I gunned the throttle, praying that God had time to preserve the life of the clinically suicidal.

We hit the last open route out of the square at twenty miles an hour, still gathering speed. Whooping, Shaun locked one arm around my waist and twisted to face the zombies, waving and blowing kisses in their direction. If it were possible to enrage a mob of the infected, he'd have managed it. As it was, they just moaned and kept following, arms extended toward the promise of fresh meat.

The road was pitted from years of weather damage without maintenance. I fought to keep control as we bounced from pothole to pothole. "Hold on, you idiot!"

"I'm holding on!" Shaun called back, seeming happy as a clam and oblivious to the fact that people who don't follow proper safety procedures around zombies—like not winding up around zombies in the first place—tend to wind up in the obituaries.

"Hold on with both arms!" The moaning was only coming from three sides now, but it didn't mean anything; a pack this size was almost certainly smart enough to establish an ambush. I could be driving straight to the site of greatest concentration. They'd moan in the end, once we were right on top of them. No zombie can resist a good moan when dinner's at hand. The fact that I could hear them over the engine meant that there were too many, too close. If we were lucky, it wasn't already too late to get away.

Of course, if we were lucky, we wouldn't be getting chased by an army of zombies through the quarantine area that used to be downtown Santa Cruz. We'd be somewhere safer, like Bikini Atoll just before the bomb testing kicked off. Once you decide to ignore the hazard rating and the signs saying Danger: Infection, you're on your own.

Shaun grudgingly slid his other arm around my waist and linked his hands at the pit of my stomach, shouting, "Spoilsport," as he settled.

I snorted and hit the gas again, aiming for a nearby hill. When you're being chased by zombies, hills are either your best friends or your burial ground. The slope slows them down, which is great, unless you hit the peak and find out that you're surrounded, with nowhere left to run to.

Idiot or not, Shaun knows the rules about zombies and hills. He's not as dumb as he pretends to be, and he knows more about surviving zombie encounters than I do. His grip on my waist tightened, and for the first time, there was actual concern in his voice as he shouted, "George? What do you think you're doing?"

"Hold, on," I said. Then we were rolling up the hill, bringing more zombies stumbling out of their hiding places behind trash cans and in the spaces between the once-elegant beachfront houses that were now settling into a state of neglected decay.

Most of California was reclaimed after the Rising, but no one has ever managed to take back Santa Cruz. The geographical isolation that once made the town so desirable as a vacation spot pretty much damned it when the virus hit. Kellis-Amberlee may be unique in the way it interacts with the human body, but it behaves just like every other communicable disease known to man in at least one way: Put it on a school campus and it spreads like wildfire. U.C. Santa Cruz was a perfect breeding ground, and once all those perky co-eds became the shuffling infected, it was all over but the evacuation notices.

"Georgia, this is a hill!" he said with increasing urgency as the locals lunged toward the speeding bike. He was using my proper name; that was how I could tell he was worried. I'm only "Georgia" when he's unhappy.

"I got that." I hunched over to decrease wind resistance a few more precious degrees. Shaun mimicked the motion automatically, hunching down behind me.

"Why are we going up a hill?" he demanded. There was no way he'd be able to hear my answer over the combined roaring of the engine and the wind, but that's my brother, always willing to question that which won't talk back.

"Ever wonder how the Wright brothers felt?" I asked. The crest of the hill was in view. From the way the street vanished on the other side, it was probably a pretty steep drop. The moaning was coming from all sides now, so distorted by the wind that I had no real idea what we were driving into. Maybe it was a trap; maybe it wasn't. Either way, it was too late to find another path. We were committed, and for once, Shaun was the one sweating.


"Hold on!" Ten yards. The zombies kept closing, single-minded in their pursuit of what might be the first fresh meat some had seen in years. From the looks of most of them, the zombie problem in Santa Cruz was decaying faster than it was rebuilding itself. Sure, there were plenty of fresh ones—there are always fresh ones because there are always idiots who wander into quarantined zones, either willingly or by mistake, and the average hitchhiker doesn't get lucky where zombies are concerned—but we'll take the city back in another three generations. Just not today.

Five yards.

Zombies hunt by moving toward the sound of other zombies hunting. It's recursive, and that meant our friends at the base of the hill started for the peak when they heard the commotion. I was hoping so many of the locals had been cutting us off at ground level that they wouldn't have many bodies left to mount an offensive on the hill's far side. We weren't supposed to make it that far, after all; the only thing keeping us alive was the fact that we had a motorcycle and the zombies didn't.

I glimpsed the mob waiting for us as we reached the top. They were standing no more than three deep. Fifteen feet would see us clear.


It's amazing what you can use for a ramp, given the right motivation. Someone's collapsed fence was blocking half the road, jutting up at an angle, and I hit it at about fifty miles an hour. The handlebars shuddered in my hands like the horns of a mechanical bull, and the shocks weren't doing much better. I didn't even have to check the road in front of us because the moaning started as soon as we came into view. They'd blocked our exit fairly well while Shaun played with his little friend, and mindless plague carriers or not, they had a better grasp of the local geography than we did. We still had one advantage: Zombies aren't good at predicting suicide charges. And if there's a better term for driving up the side of a hill at fifty miles an hour with the goal of actually achieving flight when you run out of "up," I don't think I want to hear it.

The front wheel rose smoothly and the back followed, sending us into the air with a jerk that looked effortless and was actually scarier than hell. I was screaming. Shaun was whooping with gleeful understanding. And then everything was in the hands of gravity, which has never had much love for the terminally stupid. We hung in the air for a heart-stopping moment, still shooting forward. At least I was fairly sure the impact would kill us.

The laws of physics and the hours of work I've put into constructing and maintaining my bike combined to let the universe, for once, show mercy. We soared over the zombies, coming down on one of the few remaining stretches of smooth road with a bone-bruising jerk that nearly ripped the handlebars out of my grip. The front wheel went light on impact, trying to rise up, and I screamed, half terrified, half furious with Shaun for getting us into this situation in the first place. The handlebars shuddered harder, almost wrenching my arms out of their sockets before I hit the gas and forced the wheel back down. I'd pay for this in the morning, and not just with the repair bills.

Not that it mattered. We were on level ground, we were upright, and there was no moaning ahead. I hit the gas harder as we sped toward the outskirts of town, with Shaun whooping and cheering behind me like a big suicidal freak.

"Asshole," I muttered, and drove on.

News is news and spin is spin, and when you introduce the second to the first, what you have isn't news anymore. Hey, presto, you've created opinion.

Don't get me wrong, opinion is powerful. Being able to be presented with differing opinions on the same issue is one of the glories of a free media, and it should make people stop and think. But a lot of people don't want to. They don't want to admit that whatever line being touted by their idol of the moment might not be unbiased and without ulterior motive. We've got people who claim Kellis-Amberlee was a plot by the Jews, the gays, the Middle East, even a branch of the Aryan Nation trying to achieve racial purity by killing the rest of us. Whoever orchestrated the creation and release of the virus masked their involvement with a conspiracy of Machiavellian proportions, and now they and their followers are sitting it out, peacefully immunized, waiting for the end of the world.

Pardon the expression, but I can smell the bullshit from here. Conspiracy? Cover up? I'm sure there are groups out there crazy enough to think killing thirty-two percent of the world's population in a single summer is a good idea—and remember, that's a conservative estimate, since we've never gotten accurate death tolls out of Africa, Asia, or parts of South America—but are any of them nuts enough to do it by turning what used to be Grandma loose to chew on people at random? Zombies don't respect conspiracy. Conspiracy is for the living.

This piece is opinion. Take it as you will. But get your opinions the hell away from my news.

—From Images May Disturb You,
the blog of Georgia Mason, September 3, 2039

Zombies are pretty harmless as long as you treat them with respect. Some people say you should pity the zombie, empathize with the zombie, but I think they? Are likely to become the zombie, if you get my meaning. Don't feel sorry for the zombie. The zombie's not going to feel sorry for you when he starts gnawing on your head. Sorry, dude, but not even my sister gets to know me that well.

If you want to deal with zombies, stay away from the teeth, don't let them scratch you, keep your hair short, and don't wear loose clothes. It's that simple. Making it more complicated would be boring, and who wants that? We have what basically amounts to walking corpses, dude.

Don't suck all the fun out of it.

—From Hail to the King,
the blog of Shaun Mason, January 2, 2039


Neither of us spoke as we drove through the remains of Santa Cruz. There were no signs of movement, and the buildings were getting widely spaced enough that visual tracking was at least partially reliable. I started to relax as I took the first exit onto Highway 1, heading south. From there, we could cut over to Highway 152, which would take us into Watsonville, where we'd left the van.

Watsonville is another of Northern California's "lost towns." It was surrendered to the infected after the summer of 2014, but it's safer than Santa Cruz, largely due to its geographical proximity to Gilroy, which is still a protected farming community. This means that while no one's willing to live in Watsonville for fear that the zombies will shamble down from Santa Cruz in the middle of the night, the good people of Gilroy aren't willing to let the infected have it either. They go in three times a year with flamethrowers and machine guns and clean the place out. That keeps Watsonville deserted, and lets the California farmers continue to feed the population.

I pulled off to the side of the road outside the ruins of a small town called Aptos, near the Highway 1 onramp. There was flat ground in all directions, giving us an adequate line of sight on anything that might be looking for a snack. My bike was running rough enough that I wanted to get a good look at it, and adding more gas probably wouldn't hurt. Dirt bikes have small tanks, and we'd covered a lot of miles already.

Shaun turned toward me as he dismounted, grinning from ear to ear. The wind had raked his hair into a series of irregular spikes and snarls, making him look like he'd been possessed. "That," he said, with almost religious fervor, "was the coolest thing you have ever done. In fact, that may have been the coolest thing you ever will do. Your entire existence has been moving toward one shining moment, George, and that was the moment when you thought, 'Hey, why don't I just go over the zombies?' " He paused for effect. "You are possibly cooler than God."

"Yet another chance to be free of you, down the drain." I hopped off the bike and pulled off my helmet, starting to assess the most obvious problems. They looked minor, but I still intended to get them looked at as soon as possible. Some damage was beyond my admittedly limited mechanical capabilities, and I was sure I'd managed to cause most of it.

"You'll get another one."

"That's the hope that keeps me going." I balanced my helmet against the windscreen before unzipping the right saddlebag and removing the gas can. Setting the can on the ground, I pulled out the first-aid kit. "Blood test time."


"You know the rules. We've been in the field, and we don't go back to base until we've checked our virus levels." I extracted two small handheld testing units, holding one out to him. "No levels, no van. No van, no coffee. No coffee, no joy. Do you want the joy, Shaun, or would you rather stand out here and argue with me about whether you're going to let me test your blood?"

"You're burning cool by the minute here," he grumbled, and took the unit.

"I'm okay with that," I said. "Now let's see if I'll live."

Moving with synchronicity born of long practice, we broke the biohazard seals and popped the plastic lids off our testing units, exposing the sterile metal pressure pads. Basic field test units only work once, but they're cheap and necessary. You need to know if someone's gone into viral amplification—preferably before they start chewing on your tasty flesh.

I unsnapped my right glove and peeled it off, shoving it into my pocket. "On three?"

"On three," Shaun agreed.



We both reached out and slid our index fingers into the unit in the other's hand. Call it a quirk. Also call it an early-warning system. If either of us ever waits for "three," something's very wrong.

The metal was cool against my finger as I depressed the pressure pad, a soothing sensation followed by the sting of the test's embedded needle breaking my skin. Diabetes tests don't hurt; they want you to keep using them, and comfort makes a difference. Kellis-Amberlee blood testing units hurt on purpose. Lack of sensitivity to pain is an early sign of viral amplification.

The LEDs on top of the box turned on, one red, one green, beginning to flash in an alternating pattern. The flashing slowed and finally stopped as the red light went out, leaving the green. Still clean. I glanced at the test I was holding and let out a slow breath as I saw that Shaun's unit had also stabilized on green.

"Guess I don't get to clean your room out just yet," I said.

"Maybe next time," he said. I passed him back his test, letting him handle the storage while I refilled the gas tank. He did so with admirable efficiency, snapping the plastic covers back onto the testing units and triggering the internal bleach dispensers before pulling a biohazard bag out of the first-aid kit and dropping the units in. The top of the bag turned red when he sealed it, the plastic melting itself closed. That bag was triple-reinforced, and it would take a Herculean effort to open it now that it was shut. Even so, he checked the seal and the seams of the bag before securing it in the saddlebag's biohazardous materials compartment.

While he was busy with containment, I tipped the contents of the gas can into the tank. I'd been running close enough to empty that the can drained completely, which was scary. If we'd run out of gas during the chase…

Best not to think about it. I put the gas cap back on and shoved the empty can into the saddlebag. Shaun was starting to climb onto the back of the bike. I turned toward him, raising a warning finger. "What are we forgetting?"

He paused. "Uh… to go back to Santa Cruz for postcards?"


"We're on a flat stretch of road in the middle of nowhere. We're not going to have an accident."


"You didn't make me wear a helmet before."

"We were being chased by zombies before. Since there are no zombies now, you'll wear a helmet. Or you'll walk the rest of the way to Watsonville."

Rolling his eyes, Shaun unstrapped his helmet from the left-hand saddlebag and crammed it over his head. "Happy now?" he asked, voice muffled by the face shield.

"Ecstatic." I put my own helmet back on. "Let's go."

The roads were clean the rest of the way to Watsonville. We didn't see any other vehicles, which wasn't surprising. More important, we didn't see any of the infected. Call me dull, but I'd seen enough zombies for one day.


  • "Astonishing ... a fascinating exploration of the future."—New York Times
  • "While there's plenty of zombie mayhem, political snark, and pointedly funny observations here, the heart of this book is about human relationships, which are still the most important thing in the world...even in a world where you might have to shoot the person you love most in the head, just to stop them from biting off your face."—Locus on Feed
  • "Feed is a proper thriller with zombies. Grant doesn't get carried away with describing her world or the virus. She's clearly thought both out brilliantly, but she doesn't let it get in the way of a taut, well-written story."—SFX on Feed
  • "The story starts with a bang as corruption, mystery, danger and excitement abound."—RT Book Reviews (4.5 stars) on Feed
  • "Gripping, thrilling, and brutal... Shunning misogynistic horror tropes in favor of genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Feed
  • "Intelligent and intense, a thinking-person's post-apocalyptic zombie thriller set in a fully-realized future that is both fascinating and horrifying to behold."—John Joseph Adams on Feed
  • "I can't wait for the next book."—N.K. Jemisin on Feed
  • "It's a novel with as much brains as heart, and both are filling and delicious."—The A. V. Club on Feed
  • "OK, all of you readers who want something weighty and yet light, campy and yet smart, horror with heart, a summer beach read that will stay in your head and whisper to you "what if," Deadline is just what you are looking for."—RT Book Reviews on Deadline
  • "Deft cultural touches, intriguing science, and amped-up action will delight Grant's numerous fans."—Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Deadline
  • "Intelligent and exciting...raises the bar for the genre."—Telegraph on Deadline
  • "Wry and entertaining."NPR Books on Blackout

On Sale
May 1, 2010
Page Count
608 pages

Mira Grant

About the Author

Mira Grant lives in California, sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests you do the same. Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire — winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. Find out more about the author at http://www.miragrant.com or follow her on twitter @seananmcguire.

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