RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: The Farm by Emily McKay


Title: The Farm
Author: Emily McKay
Publication Info: Penguin 2012
ISBN: 9780425257807
Genre: Young Adult

Book The Farm - Emily McKay This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Emily A. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Young Adult Romance category.

The summary:     

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible. Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world.

But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

And here is Emily A's review:

When I was 13 or 15, we didn’t have paranormal romance.  Instead of vampires, zombies, and the Apocalypse, we had drunk-driving, drug usage, cancer, someone dying, teen pregnancy, and eating disorders.  I had never read teen paranormal romance before this book. I was hoping it would be more cheerful and happy than the stuff we had when I was young teen.  It wasn’t.

After spending an emotionally drenched month with this book, (partly due to personal stress, partly due to the stress of reading this book) I can say The Farm is very good especially if you like dark paranormals in dystopian settings.  Our country was taken over by Ticks (which are a cross between vampires and zombies) in six months. High school kids were rounded up and put on “Farms,” small colleges that function as pens for the teens who then have their blood harvested for the ticks, as way to keep the ticks fed. Most of the holes in the world-building are left deliberately for ominous notes like where they are the adults, and what will happen to the babies? (Some of these questions are answered and some are left for sequels; to be answered when the characters have time to find out.)

Lily and her twin sister Mel tell the story in alternating first person. Carter eventually gets his own point of view told from the third person limited omniscient. It sounds confusing, but all the voices are clear and distinctive. One of the strengths of this book is that everyone remembers the normal life we now live as the Before.  It makes describing situations to the reader easy, since they lived normal lives.

The book has a lot of action sequences, but it takes awhile for things to gel. Originally it starts out with the characters are archetypal high school stereotypes—jock, nerd, popular girl, bully, stoner, etc. As the book progresses, we see more and more of the stereotypes break.  The plot revolves around basic survival.  The characters escape from the farm to discover greater danger on the outside.  They’re smart and relatively well prepared for the fight.

The Farm is not my idea of a romance. It doesn’t really have anything close to an HEA. The ending made me cry and didn’t work for me. It ended to be continued… not HEA.  Lily and Carter have sexual tension and tender feelings, but at times I forgot this was supposed to be a romance. The other elements took over the story. As far as I can tell the main reason this was nominated for a RITA was the author used to write Harlequin Desires. In general, this was unsettling, dark, at times gruesome, and disturbing book.

Still I think many paranormal readers will enjoy The Farm. It is a complex book with a lot to offer. There were issues earlier in the book (gender-related constraints) that were somewhat explained later on in the book. It also deals with autism in a way I found interesting although I am not sure how accurate it is. All in all I cared a lot about the characters which is why the ending was unsatisfying for me. This book was also long, and it took me over a month to read. I enjoyed it, but am still debating whether to continue with the series as this first one was so dark.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

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  1. 1

    Definitely curious on this one; the description reminds me of The Forest of Hands and Teeth which was also pretty dark and not really HEA romance, though the romance was a key piece of the book.

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