Series: The Farm #1
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: I received both an ARC & a finished copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I used the finished copy for the review.
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Blurb from goodreads:
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 blurb for this book totally drew me in and was the reason I read this book. I find vampires interesting, and a little scary, but they're not my preferred supernatural species. But, the premise was just too intriguing to pass up.
Despite that, the first portion of the book, maybe the first quarter, the book was easy to put down. I was enjoying it but there were some blatant cliches-good girl falls for bad boy, smart girl who has no love life, etc- and the story, while interesting, took a while to grab me. Then, I began to get absorbed and putting the book down to get some sleep was more difficult. The last half of the book kept me awake until almost 3AM but I finished it! The cliches never did go away but the main character, Lily, is aware of her behavior and how cliched it is. She's pretty self-aware for such a young person, she's just shy of her eighteenth birthday. Despite her self-awareness, she's by no means perfect, and during the course of the book, approximately a week, she matures and grows. She's been responsible for herself and her sister for six months now, ever since they were rounded up and quarantined on The Farm. She had to grow up quickly, has made mistakes and makes more during the book, but that added to her realism and likability.
The story is told from the perspective of Lily, her sister Mel, and Carter, the boy Lily crushed on Before and who has now come to rescue them. Most of the book is from Lily's perspective but it's always obvious who's talking as each perspective is a new chapter. Mel's was interesting as it's a very different way of thinking and it was heartbreaking at times how different Mel and Lily's viewpoints were. They clearly love each other but their different ways of looking at and experiencing the world and of communicating sometimes result in complications and misunderstandings, both minor and major. I wish we had spent more time in Mel's head but given how this book ended, I think that might happen in the next book. In some respects, the climactic events in this story were foreseeable and in other respects, they were a complete shocker. They definitely change the game and will have an explosive impact.
I liked the characters, the world building, the details, and how scarily vampires and the Ticks are portrayed. The explanation for the Ticks reminded of Mira Grant's FEED, which is one of my favorite books. But, McKay goes beyond the obvious similarities and puts her own spin on it. Oh, and speaking of spins, I had doubts at first about McKay's concept of abductura; I couldn't see how they could be so powerful or be saviors but by the end of the book I was convinced. It's a new concept to me and it has intriguing possibilities. So while the book was a slow start for me, it picked up steam and was ultimately a fascinating, absorbing, sometimes terrifying story of love, treachery, science gone wrong, manipulation and the fight to survive. It's not perfect but it's very good, go read it.