Review Detail4.1 3
In The Farm, the world has been overrun by Ticks. No, not the bugs. Humans-turned-monsters that feed on human blood. As is the case in roughly 37% of post-apocalyptic fiction, scientific research intended to help humanity accidentally got loose and turned some of the population into man-eating monsters. Oops! The road to hors d'oeuvres is paved with good intentions, right?
Like in The Passage, the humans have consolidated into walled communities, carefully defended from the monsters roaming the majority of the world. Thankfully, the Ticks are not as clever as the creatures in The Passage. The difference, though, is that the humans are not behind the walls united to fight against the monsters. The people under eighteen were rounded up and stuck into these Farms, ostensibly because young, hormonal people are the most delicious and thus the most endangered. They are fed up, fattened up, and required to go for regular blood draws, this and the crazy, out-of-control vamps outside the city reminded me heavily of The Immortal Rules.
Lily and her twin sister Mel are about to turn eighteen. Unconvinced that what will happen on their birthday will be at all pleasant (nobody knows what becomes of the people who 'graduate' from the Farms), Lily determines that they will escape. She prepares to trade for the final items necessary to complete their withdrawal from the camp. Everything's planned; she can keep Mel safe.
Lily lives her life for Mel, her mother's last words having been an invocation to protect her sister. Mel has autism, which has not been improved by the collapse of the world as it once was. In high school, Mel was relatively high-functioning, but, now, she can no longer speak in anything but nursery rhymes, something she did as a child. Lily's love and care for Mel is powerful and touching, definitely the most powerful aspect of the book for me.
Just when they're about ready to escape, enter the love interest, Carter, the only crush Lily has ever had. He was the typical bad boy and Lily's lab partner. He now seems like he could be their deliverance, if only she could trust him, which she can't do, since he obviously wants something. Though this won't make sense if you haven't read it, I have to state that I'm really not a fan of the abductura angle of the story, especially if this book is a standalone.
McKay uses three perspectives to tell the story: Lily, Carter and Mel. The bulk of the narration is Lily's in first person. She has a powerful voice, and is one of those heroines that manages to be likable but not all that nice. Her sections really worked. Mel's sections, also in first person, were perhaps my favorites and I really wish that they had been longer. Mel has a unique way of perceiving the world that I found utterly beautiful. Unfortunately, she receives only about ten pages. None of her sections are above two pages.
Where things go wonky are Carter's bits. For some reason I cannot even begin to fathom, Carter's sections are told in third person. This threw me out of the story every single time, because everything else was in first person and I expect that to continue. Choose one! As a result, I also didn't have as strong of a sense of Carter's character. Actually, I don't really think it was entirely necessary to have him as a POV. I think The Farm would have worked better as all Lily's narration or a more-balanced narration with just the two sisters.
If you enjoy post-apocalyptic horror novels, The Farm will not disappoint. From what I can tell (aka Goodreads), The Farm is a standalone, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that more books are coming. It could really go either way, I think, but there are subjects that have scarcely been touched on, such as the folks orchestrating the Farms (and what precisely happens there) or where all the adults are. I personally hope there's more.
I have to say the switch from first to third person really worked for me in Of Poseidon. I know a lot of people hated it, but it made the characters feel much more distinct for me.