The Last Harvest
Genre: Horror, YA
Publication date: January 10th, 2017
by Tor Teen
“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.
-A copy was provided by Tor Teen for review-
I have no idea how I am supposed to feel about this book. I love how the author builds tension throughout the book and I love the general creepiness of it but I struggled with a lot of other aspects of the book. The characters, the romance, and even some of the horror elements of the book.
I think my biggest qualm in terms of the actual horror parts of the book is how much they are based on Christian myth. This is obviously a very personal qualm and not all readers will have that same experience but as someone who exists outside of that narrative, it can be a little unsettling to have all this info forced down ones throat. It isn’t even just the satanic elements but rather the very beliefs this small midwestern town is founded on. It isn’t by any means unrealistic (given my own experience living in a small midwestern town) but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t slightly uncomfortable to read.
Liggett crafts the mystery and the intrigue within the novel really well though and I REALLY enjoyed the building tension and the unraveling of what the fuck was actually going on (although I don’t know if we really know by the end of the novel.)
The Last Harvest relies heavily on ‘what the fuckery.’ You think you know what is going on? Spoiler alert. YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHING and you are probably going to find yourself being constantly surprised by the book since it really does pull all the punches.
The characters however were just really hard for me to get behind which made this book harder to appreciate. There was a completely unnecessary romance thrown into the book that was ick and made no sense whatsoever. The fascination the MC had with this girl (whose name I cannot remember even though I ~just~ finished reading the book) was bizarre and it seemed that he prioritized this person he wasn’t even technically with over his own family.
This clearly made me feel not as sympathetic towards young Clay (the MC.) He was a character written to be sympathetic (at least I think he was) but one I had zero sympathy for. I couldn’t relate to him and he just, he wasn’t really that great? He was super moody, had no real friends and wasn’t good to the one friend he had, and was just REALLY full of himself. We are supposed to want to see him succeed and I couldn’t find it within me to give a fuck.
So while I liked a lot of things the author was doing in the novel, I also just couldn’t connect to the characters and was upset that the one relationship we saw was unimpressive. Overall, I think that this book might do better in the hands of a reader who is able to appreciate the characters in a way I wasn’t able to or just engage more with the horror aspects of the novel.