The Farm – Joanne Ramos

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*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to NetGalley and BloomsburyThe decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

 

The Farm originalBlurb:  Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules…

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

Welcome to The Farm.

 

From the title, the cover and the blurb, I was expecting a dystopian psychological horror; something like Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives but with surrogacy instead of marriage, and a wealth divide in place of the gender wall.

This is not that book.

Instead, The Farm is a thoughtful exploration of family responsibilities and choices, and whilst Golden Oaks and its manager Mae are mildly sinister, the horrors I had anticipated were replaced with the more insidious horror of reality: women and children are exploited, treated as things, discarded when no longer of use.  This happens.

I sympathised with the main character, Jane, as she struggled to do what was best for her young daughter in both the long and the short term, when those two timescales were directly at odds, but I never really fully connected with her.  There was no real intimacy into the character’s thoughts and feelings as the story progressed, and the combination of her bad luck and poor decision-making made me wince more than once.

This was a chilling look at a service industry / commodity production line that is already underway, and the depiction of pregnancy was varied and authentic.  I think I was just left slightly flat by what felt like an unfulfilled plot potential and an anticlimactic finale.

 

 

Reagan laughs, surprising herself.  It isn’t funny, but it is.  It’s all completely ridiculous: three pregnant women carrying other people’s babies talking about second-trimester sex pangs and trying to guess which one of them harbors a billionaire’s fetus.

– Joanne Ramos, The Farm

 

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You can follow Joanne Ramos on Goodreads, and The Farm is available on Amazon and at other good bookshops right now!

 

 

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