The Special Ones, by Em Bailey
The Special Ones is reminiscent of lots of other books to be sure, but it’s still a solid, original story in its own right. It’s claustrophobic and smart—and unusually in a story like this, actually provides specific details about long-term life on the farm like how the older girls contend with their periods. It’s about trust and sacrifice and morality, and considers the lengths to which people will go—the harm they will do to others—in order to survive.
It deals with power dynamics and with the subtext of communication—how to relay information while you’re being watched, how to express yourself or ask a question without the watcher noticing that you’re doing it. It deals with celebrity, how we build people up and tear them down again, and it deals with the attitude of male ownership over female bodies—of how some men feel entitled to the object of their “affection,” whether said “object” is into it or not. It deals with culture shock and with how hard it is to adjust to an entirely different way of life, and with how it can be almost harder to adjust to having more freedom and more free time than it is to having less.