Review: The Farm, Emily McKay

05 Feb

the farmLife 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…

As you know, YA isn’t my usual thing (although I’ve been getting more of a taste for it lately), but a post-apocalyptic Vampire novel? I couldn’t resist!

The Farm is more Twilight than Double Dead, but its pretty cool in its own right. Conceptually there’s a massive amount of potential here, and I’m not convinced that it was anywhere near realised. But I suspect this is more down to the limitations of YA and the expectations I carried over from a lot of adult horror novels. The Farm is nowhere near as dark, or as tense as it could’ve been, and from my own reading perspective, that was a shame.

There’s an odd switch of perspective between first and third person between the two main characters. It actually works quite nicely it’s just something that wrong-footed me a bit, and in fact I don’t think I’ve seen it in a novel to date. I’m trying to figure what it brings to the table..and can’t really! but it does no harm once you’ve got over the “hang on a minute” moment..

I really liked the notion of the “ticks” here, and while I completely get where the name comes from, I can’t help but wonder how many people get the wrong end of the stick from the blurb! Visions of giant, swollen bugs running around outside..was actually scarier than the reality. For me at least. The idea of humans as a corralled food source was good too, but I’ve seen it done better. Again there was just that lack of tension and darkness that made it hard for me to feel on edge. It felt very tame. The collabs were more moronic than intimidating, and the attempted rape scene read as bizarrely light hearted..which was disconcerting.

The Big Twist…well, there are two of them I suppose. One was glaringly obvious, and one slightly less so. Don’t go expecting any real surprises, but you might get an “Ooo..” moment at the very end.

Honestly I think the best way I can sum this one up is a guilty pleasure. It’s a bit daft, the notion of the ‘rebels’ searching for one schoolgirl that one of them remembered as being strangely influential…I don’t want to go deep into spoiler territory but it’s hard to express the silliness without touching on it. Regardless, McKay’s writing is massively engaging and hugely readable, and I had fun with this one in spite of it not being really my thing.

One thing that I did think was genuinely unnecessary though, were the overt digs at Twilight. For a Vampire novel with elements of angsty teen romance, I think that’s dangerous ground. Mckay clearly feels she’s a step above Meyer, but really, how many Twilight fans are going to be picking this up? shooting yourself in the foot if you ask me. There are more than enough parallels for anyone to call her out on it. And even if there weren’t, is it really necessary? it read as obnoxious.

All of that aside, it’s a fast-paced read, and engaging from the first page. It’s the kind of novel I could see going down a storm as a film adaptation, and I have no doubt that teenage girls, especially the more precocious ones who think they’re a cut above Bella, will adore it.

…and honestly? if there’s a sequel..I’d read it. But I most likely wouldn’t tell anyone I know 😉

3A PhoenixFantasy Three Star Read

[The Farm is published by Penguin and is currently available Electronic format. The Paperback is due for release 14th Feb 2013]

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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


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