Pros: Beautifully drawn
Cons: So over-the-top black-and-white; endless sermonizing
Rating: 3 out of 5
G. Lawrence’s Farm Land: Sentience (The Farm Land Trilogy Book 1) takes place far in the future, after climate change has drowned most of the land and killed most of the animals. Most people couldn’t give up their taste for meat, so now they farm people as food. The people who eat meat are simply referred to as “flesh-eaters” throughout the book. Holt grew up in a cage and has never seen the outside world. One day she escapes and ends up at a small village hidden away in the forest, where All Life is Sacred and no one eats meat. There she learns to live and love. She discovers she’s a Reacher–able to reach her consciousness outside of herself and into the minds of others–and she establishes communication with the Farmers (giant ants) who live nearby. Everyone in the forest lives in bliss and hard-working harmony until they’re found by the flesh-eaters.
Why are insects and arachnids all so huge? It’s stated that it’s because there aren’t so many humans to check their growth, but then the land mass has shrunk incredibly, so there should be much fewer resources and land on which they can live.
I’m actually pretty impressed by how well-drawn the setting is, as well as a few of the characters. I cared about what happened to them. Some of the later excitement made me tense. However, this doesn’t make up for the rest of the book.
The sermonizing is so thick you could cut it with a dull spoon. “Flesh-eaters” is the defining characteristic of the bad guys. Their own people live in squalor and filth and abuse each other. They rape (trigger warning) and kill just because they want to. They’re defined by their greed and sadism. Apparently wanting to eat meat means perfectly willing to eat humans–it’s obvious that meat-eating is meant to be a moral failing and indication of bad character in general. In contrast, the group of free people living hidden in the forest are vegans to whom All Life is Sacred. They live in a utopian society where everyone seems to work hard and feel happy. They’re socially enlightened (same-sex marriages, no forcing people to do what they don’t want to do, etc.). The majority of the book is spent on drawing out this utopian society and how wonderful it is. There are tons of speeches and sermons about the evils of meat-eating and meat-eaters. Everything is completely black-and-white: people are either good or evil. Not until the end do we even see any acknowledgement that there might be any in-between, and it’s rushed over.
If this book hadn’t been so black-and-white, if the author hadn’t felt the need to sermonize about everything, it would have been a really good read. There’s always at least some audience for utopian fiction, and I’m sure that audience will overlap with vegans who feel that meat-eating of any kind is evil, so I’m sure this book will work for a few. I’ve never felt the urge before to refer to a book as “propaganda,” but the first thing I thought of Farm Land: Sentience is that it was vegan propaganda.