The Farm by Emily McKay | Book Review

The Farm by Emily McKay (The Farm #1)
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Format: Paperback (courtesy of Berkley Trade)
Genre: Paranormal, Post Apocalyptic, YA
Publication Date: 4 December, 2012

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...

     I worry about Lily, sluggish as she is. Will she see Carter's truths? Will he tell her? God knows she won't hear them. She's moving too fast to hear anyone's music but her own. She's so set, but I know he could make her settled. I tried to sync their noise into music, but they both pushed back. Too obdurate to be oblong.
     Silly Lily. How can she resist someone who brings gum and sounds like math?
-Mel, The Farm by Emily McKay
This book came out of nowhere!

I had never heard of The Farm, when it appeared on my doorstep one day. To be honest, I wasn't all that interested in yet another story about vampires. Yet I still found myself slipping it into my bag to take to work, in case A Clash of Kings (Game of Thrones book 2) got too heavy for me. It did...and that's how three hours into my shift, I picked up The Farm and couldn't put it back down until I was finished. I was blindsided by this book!

The first thing that caught my attention is the relationship between Lily and Mel. I really liked hearing the story from both of them; their feelings towards each other, and how much they love each other, despite things not being perfect for them. Mel's chapters (which are my favorites) are short, spoken mostly in rhymes and riddles, but have a poetic quality to them that tells so much about how much she knows and understands. Lily's chapters are long and have a gritty reality to them. She fights to protect Mel, but also fights her own budding feelings of resentment for it.

One of the stranger things about the book is that it also tells the story from Carter's point of view, switching from first person in Mel's and Lily's chapters, to third person in Carter's chapters. I can't remember ever encountering that in a book before, but it worked wonderfully for the story. The transitions between chapters are pretty much flawless.

The circumstances the characters are put in are harsh. Even when things are calm, there is tension in the story. You get the feeling that the characters are never really safe--and they really aren't. Though there are definitely times when things seem a bit too contrived, it was for the most part a very twisty ride. It was hard to tell what to expect, or what would happen next. McKay created an original spin on vampires, and allowed them to take over the US (for our "protection"), causing a collapse in society. The book begins more than six months later, giving us a taste of a post-apocalyptic America. The Farm is where we find Mel and Lily, who have been corralled with other teens (again, for their "protection") and given a false sense of safety. Lily being the smart character that she is, has figured this out, and is trying to get her and Mel out of there. *Cue obstacles*

What surprised me the most about the story, were the characters. Even the minor characters are just so well developed and written. My feelings for each character changed as Lily's did--a testament to how fantastic Lily's character is. I really cared about the people in the story, and when bad things happened, I felt bereft. Likewise, I really cared about the romance. It would have been so easy to overdo it. Still, the romance isn't pushed, and it's not the most important theme in the story. But it's definitely there, and it's definitely sweet.

There are some contrivances, part of the ending was easy to guess, and I wasn't entirely satisfied when the book was through (though it was pretty close). But overall, it's a fantastically weaved story.

Temp. Guide
Read this if:
...you like strong characters, and you want a new take on vampires.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Violence, murder, one gory scene using human body parts, a few swear words, (including use of religious names), and an attempted rape.}

If you like this book, you'll probably enjoy the following:
Most like: The Immortal Rules 
Feels Like: Delirium
Parts Similar To: Variant

Purchase The Farm:
Emily McKay:
Website  /  Twitter  /  Facebook


  1. ooh this sounds really good, though the content warning makes it sound like it has some social issues in it. Great review!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. It does have a few, but they're not central to the plot. In fact, I didn't even think about them until you mentioned that. Way to catch that! :)

  2. Yay! I just got this one this week---glad to hear its so good! Love strong characters and it's actually been awhile since I delved into vampire books, so I think I'm ready for this one!

    1. Yay! It was seriously an awesome find for me. I hope you love it too!

  3. Oh, now I really want to get to this one. I love when a book blindsides me!

    1. You should! It's a great read. :) Also: I basically live for being blindsided by books. It's the best feeling!

  4. I love that there is a 'Mel' in this story :p Always fun to see a part of your name popping up in this book. I have been keeping an eye on this book for a while (and I would die from happiness when this one would arrive on my doorstep :')) It sounds incredibly good and I like the creepiness of the cover.

    Strong characters and new take on vampires? Hell yeah! Great review :D


  5. The premise of this one reminds me of The Hunt. I like the sound of such well developed characters so I'm definitely adding this one to my wishlist.

  6. Well this one sounds right up my alley. I'm normally not a vampires girl but I really enjoyed the Immortal Rules and if this is anything like that then I'm sure I'll enjoy it! :)


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