I don’t tend to read that much young adult fiction and the current trend for dystopian settings hasn’t really caught me yet. I think this is mainly because I don’t have children so I don’t see what is current out there through them. My cats unfortunately are not readers (unless I’m currently reading in which case they are *very* interested!)
So why did The Farm catch my attention? Mel and Lily Price are twins about to turn eighteen and living in one of the ‘farms’ that were created after a strange virus swept through the United States, changing a lot of the population into blood ravening monsters. For their safety, all teenagers were gathered into various locations and protected with electrified fences as their hormone laden blood drew the monsters more than anything else. They donate blood regularly but are not told why and at eighteen, they are no longer in danger and are released. Lily suspects differently, that when she and her autistic sister turn eighteen, they will be killed as food for the ravening ‘ticks’, as their blood has been used from all the donating. She is desperate to escape before their deadline and get her sister to safety.
There was a lot I liked about this book, and a couple of things that confused me. The characters of Mel and Lily were good and I felt Lily was written pretty accurately for a seventeen year old in a terrible situation with a lot of responsibility. Her decisions weren’t always good, she sometimes felt that Mel was a burden, but she also loved and protected her sister with everything she had in her; I liked her a lot. Mel was outstandingly created and when we were in her ‘head’, it was fascinating to see how she worked and figured things out. The use of nursery rhymes to communicate was sheer genius and the behaviours she displays all felt right.
When Carter was introduced, he was again a well created character and I loved his interactions with Lily when he was being honest as well as how he was with Mel, and that won me over a lot too. He did annoy me a little with his secrets but you do find out why and again, he’s a seventeen year old with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The thing that confused me a little were the perspectives in which the book was written. It does change and while each chapter lets you know who is front and centre, with Lily and Mel it’s in first person but when it’s Carter, it changes to third (even if Mel or Lily are present). It’s a little odd and I can’t decide whether it worked for me or not.
One thing that added depth to the story for me was the use of social media in telling us something about the world. On twitter if you read https://twitter.com/EscapeTheFarm you get a feel for what happened in ‘real time’, and also look at http://www.npdco.org/ which is the ‘National Pandemic Disease Control Organisation’ – both are well worth a look at!
Pacing was quite good although it was slow to start with but I think that is something you expect when a lot of information about the world needs to be revealed. In some ways I feel not enough was explained, but then again, if the characters don’t know what is really going on then I wouldn’t expect to either. The pace does pick up and it increases throughout the rest of the book until the end. The ending was a big emotional punch that was extremely well written and I was surprised to find that I really cared about it.
The story as a whole was good, entertaining and gave you a good sense of what was going on, even if it was a little convoluted sometimes. I liked that there were no sappy Vampires or traditional Zombies and instead what Emily McKay gave us was something different and needed. I don’t know where the next book will take us but I really want to find out.