Fiction

The Feed

Nick Clark Windo

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Headline, £16.99

Imagine a world in which Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Whatsapp and myriad more online tools all exist in one place - inside your brain. The Feed - as imagined by Nick Clark Windo, stepping out of the film industry to launch his high-concept debut novel - is a resource that offers seamless connectivity to anyone who is 'enabled' (almost everybody is) while providing any and all pieces of information in the blink of an eye. But this cautionary tale does not dwell too long on the realities of living with the Feed, instead detailing the rapid fall of civilisation when the addictive tech goes bang, leaving a dependent mankind impotent and defenceless. Tom, Kate and their six-year-old daughter Bea are forced to adapt to this hellish new world, made all the more terrifying when the girl goes missing. Reminiscent of post-apocalyptic books The Road and Station Eleven, and evoking the zombie horror of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Clark Windo charts a compelling journey of paranoid survival, all the while skilfully revealing the reasons behind the crash of the Feed and the collapse that followed. An adrenaline-fuelled fantasy that gains wild traction as it races into its final third.

Non-fiction

Feel Free Essays

Zadie Smith

Hamish Hamilton, £20

The problem with a book jacket proclaiming its contents to be "explosively funny", is that, firstly, very little in general is ever "explosively funny", and a collection of essays, even less so. But if you set that aside, this assortment of author Zadie Smith's columns presents a panorama of critical thinking and cultural musing. In a meditation on Justin Bieber she tackles the pathos of celebrity meet-and-greets and of losing yourself in the eyes of others; she dissects the self-consciousness bound up in writing a diary (Smith doesn't bother with one) and how her Yahoo account might just be the best, most true representation of herself; and peruses why we ought to be struggling against the tyranny of Facebook. There is wit, logic, astuteness and intellectual perkiness wrought on every page. However, you can get caught up in knots if you lose concentration - you're required to dig in, grapple with the language - and a snarky inner voice seems prone to interjecting with doubts like: 'You're not clever enough to understand what she's going on about, are you?" (this happens in my head at least). But if you persevere, your mind will feel increasingly sharp with each essay conquered.

(Reviews by James Caan)

Children's book of the week

We're All Works Of Art

Mark Sperring, illustrated by Rose Blake

Pavilion Children's £11.99

Sperring's written a simple, rhyming strand of text which explains neatly and succinctly that, however different we humans may look, we're all still important and beautiful in our own way. Blake's charmingly bold illustrations though, inspired by famous works of art, will definitely hold the attention of little ones at bedtime - and they're also rather nifty, in that, while the kids enjoy the pictures, parents will end up simultaneously wracking their brains trying to remember which artist is being riffed on. For instance, Blake swaps the apple in Magritte's surrealist Son Of Man for an orange, and pop artist Peter Blake (her dad) looks less moody in his self-portrait, while cubism, fauvism, renaissance art and more, all get a nod. It's not an art history test (although, there are informative notes in the back), nor is it stuffy with facts, but it should inspire a desire to get the felt tip oens out.

(Review by Ella Walker)