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...
Paperback, 420 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Berkley Trade (first published December 1st 2012)
Four stars: A edge of your seat dystopian with terrifying and original vampires!
Lily stuffs a few more items into her bulging backpack. She mentally goes over the list of things she still needs in order to make her escape. For the last few months, Lilly along with her autistic sister Mel have been living on The Farm. The Farm is a fortified place where teenage kids were sent to protect them from the Ticks. Just a few short months ago, the United States was overrun by Ticks. Ticks are terrifying, blood sucking monsters that were created by a genetically mutated virus. A select few of the population when exposed to the virus mutate and turn into these horrific monsters. A Tick doesn't drink blood like a traditional vampire, it tears out the human heart and sucks down the blood. Back on the farm, the teenagers are forced to give blood donations, supposedly their blood is laced with hormones that attracts the Ticks. Once they turn eighteen, they are fed to the Ticks. Lily and Mel's eighteenth birthdays are just days away. If they don't try and escape, they could be fed to the Ticks. Can Lily and Mel escape The Farm?
What I Liked:
- For months, I have said that I am tired of vampire books, but The Farm with its terrifying, gory and original vampiric creatures has once again kindled my interest. I love that this book brings us something entirely new when it comes to vampires. There are actually two types of vampires in this one. The more traditional type and the new genetically engineered monsters known as Ticks. The Ticks are kind of cross between zombies and vampires. They are created when a select gene is exposed to a scientifically created virus. Once the gene triggers, the human morphs into a grotesque creature with huge arms that are disproportionate to the rest of the body. They are mindless, blood sucking creatures that hunt humans like animals. However, they don't drink the blood through the neck or veins. Instead they bash in the chest cavity, tear out the heart and suck out the blood. Scary, right? There is a more traditional type vampire as well who is a couple thousand years old, he drinks blood and has most of the vampire traits we all know. However, he can be downright vicious and scary when he is in blood lust, and he certainly doesn't sparkle. After countless vampire books that bring the same old same old, I was pleased to discover this creative and original take.
- I love a good dystopian that grabs you and pulls you right into the story. This was the case with The Farm. Immediately, I was sucked into the world of The Farm where the teenagers are herded around like cattle, fattened on junk food and kept for blood donations. A few humans have betrayed the human race. They are called the Collabs short for collaborators and they work with the Dean to maintain the farm. It is a tightly controlled environment where one false move could earn you a trip outside the armed perimeter, where you will be eaten by the bloodthirsty Ticks. I always enjoy stringently controlled environments, add in a few monsters and you have one heck of a tale.
- This book is told through three narratives: Lily, Mel and Carter. I like multi perspectives, usually dual points of view are the best, but I found that I enjoyed all three voices. Mel's narrative was especially different as she is autistic. Her thoughts and actions are not in the normal human parameters. Instead she speaks in music and nursery rhymes. She is able to hear the vibration and music in all things that surround her. While some may not like her viewpoint, I thought it was beautifully written and extremely interesting. Mel's chapters were my favorites even though they are short, they left a big impact.
- What would a good dystopian be without a couple of kick butt characters? Lily is a bit of a struggle and I had hot and cold feelings toward her. On one hand, I admired her fierce tenacity, her courage and her unwavering resolve to protect her sister at all costs. She doesn't back down from anyone or anything when it comes to Mel. Carter is the love interest and I immediately liked him. He is the bad boy who has reformed and changed since the arrival of the Ticks. He is brave and awesome. I especially liked how he treated Mel. Throw in Sebastian, a fierce and deadly vampire, and you have an interesting and entertaining set of kick butt characters.
- This book is a thrill ride from beginning to end. It starts out in the clamped down confines of The Farm, but eventually moves to the outside world where you get a look at the decimation and the Ticks first hand. There is rarely a dull moment. I found it to be entertaining and creative. I liked that there was a frightening motive to the Tick outbreak. It was much more than just a scientific experiment gone wrong. I won't dish it all here, you have to experience it for yourself.
And The Not So Much:
- As I mentioned, Lily was a character I struggled with. I found myself disconnecting with her quite a bit. At first, I liked her steadfast determination and the way she protected her sister. I got that, but as the book wore on, her inability to trust caused me to not like her as much. At times, she is a downright bitch to those who are trying to help her. Her trust issues also cause her act impulsively, and time and time, she puts herself and her friends in dangerous situations because she refuses to be patient. I especially didn't like the way she treated Carter when he poured his heart out. Her overprotective nature prevents her from really seeing and understanding her sister. Even though she thinks she knows her sister and she is doing what is right for her, she isn't because she refuses to listen. By the end of the book, I was hopeful that Lily was moving in a more positive direction. It isn't that I didn't like her, but I had issues with her rash behavior and the way she treated people sometimes. I think she has a lot of room to grow, and I am eager to see her transformation.
- The world building was a tad bit shaky. The whole farm concept never quite clicked with me. I still didn't know exactly where the blood was going. I don't think they were feeding it to the Ticks, so what were they doing with it? The whole hormone thing wasn't quite clear either. Finally, I wished that there was more detail on the whole Tick event and how the government fell and all of that. You get bits and pieces throughout, and I was able to piece together a sketchy idea, but I wanted something more concrete. Overall the world building is good, but I wanted exceptional because I was so enamored with the creativity of the rest of the story. I was eager to know way more about the farms, the deans and how they were being supplied.
- There were a few events that just didn't quite click with me. I didn't understand why the chips weren't dealt with way earlier. There were a couple of opportunities and they didn't do it. That seemed a bit unrealistic especially since they were putting all of them in danger. I struggled with the big event with Mel. I didn't believe that The Dean would be able to pull that off without anyone noticing. Especially in the middle of the mayhem. It didn't work for me. The situation with Joe was strange as well. I don't understand why they would have him head North instead of doubling back to meet up with them once the Ticks were drawn away. I didn't like that his fate was unknown either.
- Sebastian was a cool and terrifying vampire. I liked that about him. None of that glamorous sparkly stuff. He is cold and calculating and vicious in a fight, yet he is someone you want in your corner. I was expecting a bit more detail on his vampiric nature. Why could he be out in sunlight?
- I liked the trio of narratives but I didn't like that Lily and Mel's view points where done in first person while Carter's was in third. I would prefer to have all the view points in first person. I also wished that there was a bit more explanation on what happened to Carter when the Tick's overran the military school and he met up with Sebastian. I love watching a character grow and transform, and it was apparent that Carter had undergone significant changes, but none of that is relayed to the reader.
- The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger. I am just relieved that I already have the next book to tear into.
The Farm was a surprisingly good dystopian with plenty to like. I especially enjoyed the new form of terrifying vampiric creatures known as the Ticks. I loved the creativity and originality of this one, and I am eager for the next book. I would highly recommend checking out this series. Not since I read Laura Bickle's The Hallowed Ones Series have I been as engrossed in a dystopian. This was one heck of a ride!
"Most days Lily is the steady drumbeat. The rhythm of my heart. The repeating melody of the music in my head. But not today."
"Silly Lily. How can she resist someone who brings gum and sounds like math?"
"It's not the shape of the building that makes something holy ground. It's the faith of the people who worship there."
"It is the world's worst villains who believe the strongest. They have the most to fear from divine retribution."
"How do I know his definition of 'fine' doesn't include fava beans and a nice Chianti?"
I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Stop by on Thursday for my review of the sequel The Lair (The Farm #2) by Emily Mckay and a giveaway!