Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Last Harvest
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: Paperback; 352
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
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Content Screening: Violence, Blood/Gore

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a YA horror story that keeps you guessing.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Kim Liggett's The Last Harvest is a thrilling YA horror story that draws on her childhood during the Satanic Panic.

"I plead the blood."

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely cattle ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma, slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society--a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship--won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who's behaving like they're old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals--but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.

I find it only fair to let you know that I'm the type of reader who is fairly desensitized to horror novels at this point. I read a lot of them and, since I found this genre early on when YA horror wasn't a big thing, most of them are targeted to adults. So take my review with a grain of salt, my friends. I expect a lot from books that market themselves as horror. I love to feel the tension, hate/love the characters, and be completely blindsided at every turn. Basically, The Last Harvest had a lot to live up to. It nearly made it there too.

First off, credit where credit is due, Kim Liggett does an excellent job of setting the stage for Clay's possible descent into madness. The little town of Midland, Oklahoma is brought to life almost immediately. You can feel the breeze on a humid summer night, see the sunset over the corn fields, and relish in the small town feel of the characters and their day to day lives. I love books with settings like these. They settle you firmly into a sense of nostalgia, in my case for a place I've never been. This is my favorite kind of story, and that's one of the reasons I loved it so much.

Liggett also shines with her creation of the characters in this book as well. Clay, the golden boy quarterback turned outcast, is easy to fall in love with. As I met the rest of this not quite friends, I saw how easily each of them fit into the setting that was so expertly built. These are kids who raised in a town that sees them as the budding next generation. They are the future of Midland and, as such, can do no wrong. Although there wasn't as much time to get to know them as I would have liked, I at least appreciated the fact that they felt like real people, with real issues.

What took the star rating down for me in this book, and again I remind you that I'm pretty picky about books in this genre, is a mixture of how slow it was to build and how unsurprising the majority of the story was. Don't get me wrong, YA horror has it rough. There's a line that you can't cross in terms of the actual horror/gore aspects and I really feel like it hampered this story. What should have been shocking events in Clay's story, felt more like small breaks from the lull of this book. Although I liked most of the characters well enough, their fates never really resonated with me. As I mentioned before, my favorite part of this genre is the attachment and tension that I usually feel. I didn't feel much of that here at all.

I can say that this book is very easy to read through though, despite anything else. I powered through the story in roughly two hours, and didn't feel like I wasn't going to finish. There was enough to keep me invested in what the ending would actually be, even though I thought I had figured it out, and so I appreciated that. I just wish there had been more to make me feel really invested. I'll give this three stars, and highly recommend it to anyone starting out in the horror genre! It's well written, and not too terribly terrifying. An excellent place for a beginning.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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