The Farm by Joanne Ramos (ARC Review)

The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Publisher: Random House (May 7, 2019)
Description from the publisher:
Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.

The premise of this novel was gripping from the get-go. It certainly mirrors The Handmaid's Tale, and could very well be a precursor to how our society might easily fall into that particular brand of dystopia. The themes are also similar: power struggles between the wealthy and privileged vs the poor and desperate. With a more modern day take, the ethical and moral dilemmas abound, giving the reader a lot to chew on. Ramos' world building of Golden Oaks and all it entails was vivid and thought provoking. 
”Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.” 
I also thought that there was a lot of food for thought about feminism, misogyny and racism. Yet it felt like more breadth than depth was given to these themes. Ramos utilizes archetypal characters rather than ones that really stand on their own as a fully fleshed out individuals. There was quite a large cast of characters in the book and I felt as if they could've been pared down significantly so that Jane could have been given a bit more oomph. Though she was somewhat unlikeable, Jane's cousin Ate has the most dynamic and full character arc. Alas, she is not who I wanted to be invested in, to be the hero of the story. I also felt frustrated by the ending, Jane's ending, even though it was probably the most plausible outcome for her and I turned the pages pretty furiously to get to the conclusion.
Overall this was an entertaining read that was driven by plot and juicy 'what if?' scenarios. It would make for an good summer read, and definitely a book club pick - lots of moral choices to dissect.
Many thanks to Random House for the complimentary advance copy in exchange for my honest review!


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