This was to be a marathon reading week and I managed to stay on track up until... last night. Yesterday was a bit of a blah day, that's the only excuse I have. But I did get back to my book, Emily McKay's The Farm after a few brainless sitcoms. I have to say, every time I think I'm likely done with vamps someone comes along and surprises me. Last time it was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and now there's Emily McKay's series.
Lily and her twin sister, Mel, were shipped off to the Farm about six months ago. Thanks to an outbreak, a huge chunk of the population has become infected with a pathogen that makes them bloodsucking freaks. They call them Ticks. And since the Ticks seems to find teen blood particularly tasty, the Farms were created to keep the teen population safe. Or so they said. They were to wait out a cure but said cure has yet to be found and Lily has discovered that they're all being used as food instead, with multiple blood donations a month and careful tracking of their hormones. What's worse, no one's really sure what happens when you turn eighteen. With their birthday right around the corner, Lily and Mel aren't going to wait around to find out. Lily has planned their escape and is ready to set it in motion when Carter shows up. They were classmates before all this started, at least until Carter was shipped off to military school. Lily isn't sure she can trust Carter but thinks he may be her best shot for getting out. Carter is definitely hiding things and has his own plans, which do include saving Lily and Mel, but to what end?
So it's a post viral outbreak apocalypse story with vampires. Works for me! It has all the great elements of a typical post apocalyptic tale - tension and gruesome baddies, the constant threat that those around you might turn on you either becoming Ticks themselves or stabbing you in the back to save their own skin, and the desperate/desolate post disaster setting that I find so tempting in a tale. And you have a tough as nails heroine in Lily!
McKay alternates chapters between Lily, Carter, and Mel and it's this that makes the book really interesting. Mel is autistic and her chapters are oddly awesome - or awesomely odd. I can't even imagine what kind of headspace McKay had to be in to put together Mel's chapters. There's no way my imagination could reach to those depths! The only other time I've seen an author attempt this - and I'm sure there are more but this is the only one I recall - it was Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and the narrative drove me batty! This time around it worked for a number of reasons, first and foremost because Mel is not the main narrator. But it is a definite unique and appealing aspect with The Farm and McKay does it well.
This is the first in a multi-part story. The sequel, The Lair, is out now and I'll be reviewing it tomorrow as part of the tour (here's the link to all the tour dates and spots). There's also to be a prequel called The Before, which will be out in December according to the official website for the series.
I really don't want to give away too much for you guys, but if you missed out on The Farm (like I somehow managed to) and you love survivalist post apocalyptic stuff then you'll want to check out the books regardless of how you feel about vampires (psst, these definitely do not sparkle!). Also, there's this. Hit the link. Check it out. So. Super. Fabulous.