Cover Image: Feed Them Silence

Feed Them Silence

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Member Reviews

A stunning gut punch of a book. FEED THEM SILENCE is a recommended first purchase for all collections, full stop.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Wow, I really loved this little book. What a stunningly heartbreaking story. It's a science fiction book but the characters and emotion in the story makes it feel so real. I adored it and will definintely be reading more by this author.
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This novella does such a good job at exploring themes of ethics within science and studies and the blurred lines / potential overattachment to subjects. Mandelo fully fleshes out all of their characters and despite the main character being unlikeable and making very disagreeable choices, you can’t help but want to read on and see what happens to her and the repercussions of her choices. With insight into a whole bunch of themes including queer relationships and the breakdown of marriage, to technology and human greed- I really think this book will be a hit for a lot of people looking for a short sci-fi book that feels believable yet uncomfortable and slightly disturbing. Personally I did find it a little slow and it didn’t feel like anything really happened in regards to the wolves until about 60% in, but that seems more of a me issue.
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This novel was full of the ingredients that I like: scifi, lgbtq+, animals, philosophy but it didn't fully work for me. And I think I'm the exception here, because all I see are good reviews. This was more of a character driven story and I couldn't connect with any of them. The story and the plot are interesting though, so if the premise of this book catches your eye, go for it.
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Technology discovers a way of projecting the mind of a scientist into a wolf 

Lee Mandelo follows their well-received debut Summer Sons with the wildly and impressively different Feed Them Silence. Whilst their debut was a sprawling supernatural Southern Gothic style drama this follow up novella is a thriller set slightly in the future with scientists experimenting with innovative technology which enables humans to piggyback into the minds of animals (endangered grey wolves) and experience what they feel. This gives the old saying ‘stepping into somebody’s else shoes’ (or paws) an entirely new meaning!

Feed Them Silence is set in 2031 and Lee Mandelo drops hints to show that environmentally things continue to go downhill fast, with scientists experimenting on the last surviving grey wolves which live in the dwindling wild, a habitat which close to their research base. The lead character is Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon and your enjoyment of this novella may very well depend on how you connect with this rather lonely and flawed individual. As events moved on I found her unprofessional, erratic, self-obsessed, irritating and ultimately difficult to like. As a result, even though the novella was a nice idea and very clever in parts, I found myself picking holes in her irrational and almost addict style behaviour. However, in horror and speculative fiction mad (or at least unhinged) scientists are par for the course and there would be little fun without them. 

When the novella opens Kell-Luddon’s team have received funding to take their potentially revolutionary research into the realms of reality. By using a neurological interface (via a computer game style headset) an animal’s perception will run through the user’s own brain, specifically a young female grey wolf called Kate, which has had a transmitter surgically implanted into her brain before the novella begins. It was relatively obvious what was going to happen, Sean who is only allowed to ‘connect’ for short periods, finds herself totally immersed in pack-life and their daily struggle to survive and find food. Considering this is the first time this process has ever been attempted, the other scientists are incredibly slow to notice the fact that Sean is going off the deep end big-time and struggles to keep her objective and scientific distance separate.

The blending of the two minds was nicely managed and the lingering psychological problems of connecting with another species were also convincing. Before long you will undoubtedly find yourself rooting for the wolves, who are little more than lab-rats to the science bigwigs. You will also wonder whether the wolf is aware she is being spied upon, or whether this ambiguity lies in the imagination of the troubled scientist. The immersion scenes were portrayed similar to an advanced 3D computer game and it was easy to see why it could become addictive, provide emotional hangovers and other psychological side effects connecting to invading another mental world. Viewing the world through animal eyes was an escape from reality; smelling the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even tasting the blood and viscera of a fresh kill (including a cool fight with a bear) was exhilarating to Sean. And, above all, to feel the belonging and companionship of the pack. 

This leads us to the second major thread of Feed Them Silence, whilst the doctor feels the unity of the pack when she is running with the wolves, things are not so good at home. Sean is a workaholic who rarely sees her wife Riya and chasing her scientific dreams have put her marriage at risk and she struggles to find the time and the emotional attachment to make things work. Although this part of the story was convincingly portrayed it did play out slightly like a soap opera and I found myself having little sympathy for either woman as both seemed selfish, self-absorbed and put little effort into saving their floundering relationship. 

Considering Feed Them Silence was a relatively brief 112 pages, it crams a fair bit into its plot and themes but is not long enough to provide much character depth beyond Sean. On the basic level it questions how we research and asks how far we should go in the name of science and whether we can trust the shadowy organisations which fund this type of research. Overall, it was bleak stuff and leaves lingering ethical questions for the reader to mull over. The story never gets preachy but it guaranteed to get readers thinking about the conservation of Earth's dwindling animal population and whether the scientific scenario presented in Feed Them Silence has any milage beyond giving man a new kick or type of gratification. 

Lee Mandelo is obviously an author to watch and this latest novella will undoubtedly enhance their reputation as it has little in common with their debut novel. I enjoyed Feed Them Silence, which was a very thoughtful piece of fiction, but felt it also had the legs to be developed into a more substantial work.
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*Feed Them Silence* follows Sean, a neuroscientist, and her team’s experiment in human/non-human interfacing which allows Sean to neurally link with a wolf, experiencing the wolf’s senses, emotions, connections, and pain.  As Sean’s connection with “her” wolf intensifies, detachment from her “subject” becomes less and less possible all while other aspects of Sean’s life unravel.

There is a lot I liked about this.  I’d not read Mandelo before but I found this novella well-written and will definitely look into more of their work.  Sean is a well developed character — far from likeable, as other reviewers have noted, but she’s hardly intended to be.  Mandelo has packed a ***lot*** into a very short number of pages as well — while the focus is Sean’s experience, there are also considerations of the ethics of research involving animals, climate grief, the pressures of academic life (including for women in particular), and an intense exploration of what happens when human and non-human others are treated as objects.

A few things didn’t work for me.  The focus on Sean as a protagonist was so strong that every other character felt under-developed as a result — the reader learns very very little about the other members of the research team, even though Sean spends most of her time with them, and much of what we learn about Sean’s wife Riya are the ways that Riya responds to Sean treating her like garbage.  I also found, for all the emphasis on cross-species understanding, that this book was extraordinarily anthropocentric.  While the human characters displayed a range of changing amounts and types of concern for the welfare of the wolves being exploited for the study, the focus is so consistently on the utility (or not) of the study and on Sean’s need to feel okay about the work that she was doing that I feel like some of the potential for this book to be thought-provoking was lost.

*Content warnings:* animal cruelty, animal death, racism, sexism

*Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan-Tor/Forge / Tordotcom for providing an ARC in exchange for this review*.
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I read a physical galley of this, and I read it in ONE SITTING. I couldn't put this one down. The way that its both intriguing and mysterious, how I was unsettled and also sobbing at the communication between the animals... I loved this.
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First run for me by Lee Mandelo, and this was a quick novella.
Firstly we I've never known a woman to be called Sean, so that's a first for me.
Lee explores what I imagine to be all too common in the research world where one might get attached to their subject and thereby distil a wide variety of repercussions.
Couple this with a bit of technology and a broken marriage , you have yourself a tale .
Lee's style is vivid with a lot of show don't tell writing techniques.  I was using the dictionary function on the Kindle regularly.

Best read sipping on scotch outside a wolf's den with a bear close by.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC
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I requested a digital copy in order to sample the prose on my phone (since I don't have a eReader) before requesting a physical copy for review. My review will be based on the physical ARC I read (if I qualify)
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Lee Mandelo is definetly an author to watch. Feed Them Silence was everything and nothing that I hoped for in their latest. My bigget grip about this story is that it's a novella and not a full length novel. Cannot wait for the next story from Mandelo.
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What does it mean to "be-in-kind" with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about this book since reading it. As an aspiring biologist, the relationship between animal subjects and the research are at the forefront of many of the papers I read day-to-day. Regarding the main character’s research, one question kept coming up for me. Namely, how the heck did they get this past the ethics committee?

I’m mostly kidding.

Feed Them Silence is a book that aims to make us question how we research, and ultimately, how far is too far in the name of science? As scientists, it is easy to get lost in the research and questioning. It is at the basis of science, the basis of our search for truth, whatever “truth” turns out to be. The amount of times thought experiments are precluded with the statement “it wouldn’t be ethical but what if…” are countless. The curiosity of scientists is ultimately what allows science to happen, but we often fail to acknowledge that science is capable of doing harm. Researching something for the sake of knowing can be dangerous when we don’t consider the implications outside of the lab. Once we have the results and the results are published, they are ultimately out of our hands. It is not up to us how people (or pop-science) make incorrect interpretations and twist our research to fit their needs.

Anyhow, I’m still thinking about Feed Them Silence.

*Thank you to netgalley for giving me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review
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I found the story to be wild, in the best way. A quick, short, vaguely horrific story that really caused me to think. If you enjoyed Mandelo's Summer Sons this is different but you will likely still enjoy.
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Mandelo is the only author I can trust to write about academia. I read the novella in one sitting. I found it absolutely heartbreaking and loved it. The pacing was good, the characters were unlikable and believable, and the technical/sci fi side of things was realistic enough it didn't feel silly. If anything, it felt a little bit bleak, but maybe that's just my own reflections on academic research that I felt were reflected here. I think the description could be adjusted a bit because I expected something completely different, and was positively surprised.
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Sean is finally getting her funding to study the last remaining wild wolf pack, from a private venture capital company… what could possibly go wrong?
This book was a roller coaster with disturbing aspects that are not too dissimilar to events happening in our world right now. I found myself oddly grossed out and equally invested in the outcome. 
Not usually the sort of book I would choose for myself but it captured my imagination nonetheless. I found some of the character details a little hard to follow at times (which I won’t elaborate for fear of a a spoiler) but the story moved along nicely. 
A bit dystopian in nature so not one for the faint of heart who find the reality of our world worrying or disturbing. Overall I enjoyed it, Thankyou to NetGalley for the ARC!
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Lee Mandelo has done it again in an entirely new way. While the icy "Feed Them Silence" initially seems to have little in common with "Summer Sons", Mandelo's drippingly humid ghost story, there is much here for fans of "Summer Sons" to love - repression, inward reflection, and the fracturing of relationships. I'd very nearly classify this (and "Summer Sons") as modern folk horror - there is an element of this that is entirely obsessed with the natural elements. While "Summer Sons" was Southern Gothic, "Feed Them Silence" is more science fiction, a horror in line with the classic "Frankenstein" - what is our responsibility to our scientific endeavors? How do our personal failings translate across species? A very enjoyable, thought provoking novella. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!
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I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Feed Them Silence. I absolutely loved Mandello’s first novel, Summer Sons, but I think Feed Them Silence fell a little flat for me. I had a hard time getting into the story at first. Then the storyline picked up a bit, but I still found myself losing focus/interest every few pages. I’m not sure if it was the plot of the story itself or just the pacing, but for a rather short novella, I had a hard time making it to the end.
The main character, Sean, is deeply engrossed in her work and is fiercely determined (and often selfish) to do it her way. Her research on grey wolves and the link her team created to experience and evaluate the emotions of their subject, Kate, leads her to become obsessed with tapping into the feed of her wolf’s mind and neglecting important things in her personal life. The scientific procedures and vocabulary used in the lab scenes in Feed Them Silence were very dense and not overly palatable for someone without a background in science. It pulled me from the story a few times when I had to reread a paragraph here and there to really understand what was going on. That being said… I still enjoyed the lab scenes and Sean’s obsessive behavior with the wolves over pretty much every scene of her personal life. From the beginning, I found it hard to understand why Sean and Riya were together other than having fallen into something too comfortable to leave. That feeling never went away. (Minor spoiler incoming) It also felt weirdly uncomfortable to read Sean just accepting that her wife cheated on her…three times…because she was more invested in her work. I understand Riya being upset over Sean’s lack of communication and obsession with work over her relationship, but just end the marriage at that point… don’t cheat and then still expect an apology from your partner for being overly invested in work.
I think I was expecting Feed Them Silence to have that same tension and gripping sense of impending horror that Summer Sons did, but the outcome of Sean’s research and the way her and Riya’s relationship issues played out just felt underwhelming. 
2.5 stars
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Mandelo’s skill for prose deserves high praise on its own. I was immediately captured by it, and if I had been able, I would have swallowed this book as fast as physically able. A quick read would have benefited it as well, as I got caught up hoping and wondering when this tense psychological story would come to a crescendo. Sadly, just when I thought it would go off the rails, it petered out into the hopeful ending it has. Maybe I watch too many A24 movies, but this story was primed for some quirky violence from the beginning. Damn my expectations I guess. It still remains a great book, and has given me another author to look out for in the future.
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This is a great example of everything a novella/ short novel should be! Fully realized characters, an interesting world and conflicts that explore bigger themes in a way that’s believable and fun to read. Sean and her desire to commune with a wolf explores what it means for her to be an individua, someone in a marriage, and someone pet of a research team.
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Honestly, I would love to see more of "Women in STEM but with self-sabotage/moral corruption" like this in sci-fi literature. Yet, despite the captivating premise and all the representations it portrayed, I must admit there are still details that prevented me from enjoying this book thoroughly. 

The story tackled Sean's research on grey wolves and the impact it caused on her relationships, her health, and her career, while her bond with her subject grew into something special via a neurological interface. Although the book started off strong and had many interesting takes on science ethics and methodology, I couldn't help but notice a few logical errors à la survivorship bias, which is fine by me. I'm not enthusiastic about the writing either, for its so many questionable choices of words and not-so-engaging paragraphs made solely for info-dumping. Nevertheless, I still found Sean is a great character with a gritty and morally grey personality I can somehow relate to. With that being said, Feed Them Silence is refreshing for its own plot and is full of potential, but definitely needs some polishing.
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