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...
When the monsters known as Ticks swarmed across the country leaving a bloody path of terror behind them, the world was forever changed. Now all of the teenagers live in quarantined camps for their "protection" while farming their own blood out. But Lily believes there is something even more sinister at work than just being a blood source for the Ticks. She's determined to escape to ensure both she, and her autistic twin sister Mel don't meet a worse fate. But just as she's ready to put her plan into action, Lily runs into someone from her past that she once had a crush on. He has invaluable information about the outside world, but there's something mysterious about his circumstances. Lily doesn't know who to trust in this deadly of survival as she is one wrong move from losing it all.
As saturated as the genre has become, Vampires are becoming a tired and worn out thing for many readers. While I can't say that I'll ever lose my favor for them as they were my first love in the genre, I will admit it is becoming increasingly rare to find something unique and refreshing when it comes to vampires. The Farm, however, has it in spades. Sure, some of the elements are familiar, but when you but put all of them together, it made for an incredibly unique read. Perhaps that is because the ticks aren't your romanticized version of vampires, but bloodthirsty beings who live only for the kill that were slightly reminiscent of zombies, only much, much, much faster. The farms only added to the feeling of danger as the corruption from the leadership was astounding. As some of the more sinister secrets were revealed, I only got sucked further down the rabbit hole.
Mel's portions of the book were beautiful, lyrical, and.... I didn't understand them one bit. But, that isn't a bad thing, as I think Emily McKay did an extraordinary job of capturing Mel's at her very essence, and it wouldn't have done her justice to try and change her way of thinking just to make it so a normal reader could follow the flow easily. Having a brother with special needs growing up, I am a little bit more sensitive than most to this type of thing, but even I sometimes have a hard times seeing the intelligence underneath the lesser functioning nature. Emily McKay showed that not only was Mel's different way of thinking beautiful, but in many ways she was by far the most intelligent of all the characters. She had a way to see past all of the things that stand in our way to the heart of the real problem. Another thing that really impressed me was the way Emily handled Lily's reactions to Mel. Lily had such a fierce protectiveness towards Mel, and has dedicated her life to protecting her. That being said, there were several points throughout the book where Lily was ready to snap and almost lashed out at Mel for her inability to really cooperate. I just think this made everything more real because no matter how much you love and care for someone, there will be times where it just becomes too much for the caregiver and they have to take a step back.
The Farm really caught me off guard. I went into it expecting yet another vampire book, but what I got was an absolutely gripping and thrilling ride that was incredibly impressive. After the way things ended, I am rather desperate to get my hands on the next installment. Vampire and zombie fans alike will not want to miss this fantastic new Paranormal YA Series. An absolute must buy!!