The other day, while I was surrounded by hordes of rabid book fans, I was asked a question. A question that was rather elementary when it came right down to it, but still incredibly intriguing. One that (if I’m being honest) I’m surprised is being asked now; 3 years into my reviewing journey. It was:
“What are you tired of?”
My first thought (naturally) was laundry. I have no idea how my children manage to wear everything they own in a single week, but alas…they do, therefore I’m up to my elbows in dirty boy socks on a daily basis.
Of course this is not what she meant. So I dug down deep. (Ok…not that deep. I’m way too superficial for that.) And pondered the question.
My answer: Vampires.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a day (not so very long ago) where vampires in literature were my pathetic stay-at-home mommy version of crack. But the more I read, the more I wanted to punch them (and their always perfect abs and flowing glossy hair) in the face. (Which of course would then get me killed. So…I’m going to go ahead and retract that statement.)
It’s not that I’m entirely “tired” of vampires. They have their perks. What I’m tired of are “nice” vampires! Give me blood and guts. Give me vampires that are drunk on bloodlust and have absolutely no moral judgment.
“A squirrel? You want me to eat a squirrel? Hell no! I want that blonde over there trying desperately to order the world’s most complicated cup of coffee! She looks like a tasty caffeinated treat!”
In short, I want my fanged foes to be exactly that…FOES.
So to you, Ms. Emily McKay, I thank you for being slightly demented and wildly unforgiving in regards to your vampires (that read a lot like zombies…which, I’ll never get tired of.)
“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…”
The most intriguing aspect of “The Farm” is that the reader has absolutely zero idea who to trust. Not in a traditional “mystery novel” way were several people could be the killer, but something much more dramatic. Without giving too much away (because I hate spoilers) There is a specific “trait” to one of McKay’s characters that makes him/her difficult to read. (How’s that for vague.) This trait is not sad, or inappropriate or even (in layman’s terms) bad. Instead it is incredibly influential. And because of its influence it makes every aspect of the book (intentions, emotions…etc.) questionable. You’ll find yourself agreeing with sentiments, only to find out they weren’t at all what you believed them to be. You will fall in love with characters only to second guess them pages later. NOT KNOWING is the driving force of this book. It weaves its way into every plot turn, every self actualization and heart-felt monologue found inside.
That said, without expertly written characters…there would be no story.
Lily and her twin sister are about to turn 18. For most people this would be exciting. But for a prisoner of the Farm, turning 18 is paramount to getting the death penalty You are considered no longer useful and put out to pasture. Literally. Outside the walls of the farm live Ticks. Genetically modified vampires that drink blood and ravage cities (much like a zombie plague ) Lily and Mel’s only hope of survival is to make a run for it. The only problem is that Mel is autistic. In the “Before” her autism was manageable In the “After” it becomes a bit of a burden. This “burden” is where McKay’s writing ability really shines.
Showcasing any illness can be difficult. The balance must be exact. Too far to the left: you appear insensitive. To far to the right: you are drowning your reader in a pity pool. Both can be detrimental to a body of work. But in the case of Mel? She was not her sickness, or a barrier between her sister and the freedom they both so desperately sought. Mel was quite, but attentive. Nervous, but brave. She saw what was beneath EVERY surface, not just the ones directly in her line of sight. She was, without pretense…beautiful.
“So, Misty…what about these vampires you claim to loath so much?”
Well, like I said before (with the exception of one) they were less like vampires, more like zombies. Which made this book play out more like an Apocalypsie than a stroll down Vamp Lane. Much to my “end of the world” loving pleasure.
There was a heavy dose of action. Plenty of heart, and enough shock and awe to keep any reader on the edge of their seats. And… it being the 18th of December, I can safely say this will make my “top 10 of 2012.” I cannot wait to dive into the next chapter of this incredibly engaging story, and see what renowned “ROMANCE” (yes, I said romance) writer McKay has up her “evil side” sleeve in the future.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: never give up on the predictable, sometimes it will surprise you.
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