I started The Farm by Emily McKay nearly six months ago when my colleague and I started our teen book groups. She managed to get some pre-release copies of the book to give out at the first meeting. Neither of us had read it, but I was only a few chapters in before I realised that it probably wasn’t the best choice for our first book. Maybe a little bit too controversial in content (as was reflected in some parents comments).
However, as an adult, I enjoyed the book. In my review of Codename: Verity by Elizabeth Wein I talked about how I dislike narrative switching, and McKay is guilty of doing this as well. It was less annoying than in other examples however, as one of the voices was an autistic girl. The combination of her voice and her sister’s worked quite well, and the odd third person chapter actually fitted quite well into the flow of the narrative. And she didn’t use the technique to give away everything either – instead, they were used as clues, which was quite effective.
What I disliked the most was that the small twist near the end of the book was given away in the cover blurb. I hate hate hate this. My first experience of it was with Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Reading that novel, I could see all the clues and they were very clever. I was very disappointed not to have been able to completely enjoy it because I already knew what it all meant. Don’t read the blurb on either book if you ever some to read it.
On the whole, it was a good, teen vampire-dystopia romp. The characters were realistic, even in their subborn annoyingness (but isn’t that realistic for teens?). It hit on some quite heavy topics – i.e. teens getting pregnant on purpose because ‘Ticks’ don’t like progesterone and attempted rape – but it contributed to the plot rather than distancing the reader.
The vampires were scary throughout, even the ones that were on the side of the protagonists were portrayed as animals who were incredibly dangerous and their control only a thin disguise for their animalistic insides. To be honest, it could have survived – and possibly been better – if it hadn’t had any humanoid vamps at all, but at least they were included in a way I can respect (meaning – they didn’t freaking sparkle).
It felt like it moved really slowly for something that was chronologically moving quite fast, but I will probably read the sequel, as I’m kind of interested in what happens. But not so much that I’d mind if I never got round to it.