Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Flowertown

Flowertown by S.G. Redling
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really liked it
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S. G. Redling, Flowertown (Thomas and Mercer, 2012)

Full disclosure: this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

Life in Flowertown—a seven-and-a-half-square-mile stretch of Nowhere, Iowa, that was the victim of a toxic chemical spill seven years ago and has been the center of a scorched-earth quarantine ever since—is boring. And I mean boring. It's bad enough that the army officially looks the other way at the town's thriving pot trade. And if you happen to work for the local government... well, you start wondering if you weren't better off dying in the initial spill, as many of the town's inhabitants did.

Such is the situation in which our protagonist, Ellie Cauley, finds herself at the beginning of S. G. Redling's novel Flowertown. It's a rare day that she doesn't spend baked from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to sleep at night (it helps that her best friend is the town's main dealer). But, even through her drug-induced haze, she can see that things are rapidly getting worse—there was an accident on the access road that has stopped the supply trucks from coming in, so food is currently scarce (a situation that seems to be getting more and more frequent). Rumor has it that the army will be pulling out soon, leaving the town to fend for itself, or, worse, at the mercy of the “security” forces provided by Feno Chemical, the company responsible for the spill. Which affects Ellie more than most, since her boyfriend is one of the army guys. And still, Ellie sits in the records office day after day, shuffling papers...until the day the chemical folks decided to send a guard to watch the red-taped boxes next to Ellie's desk, boxes she never even thought about until the chemical folks got uppity. And now she's wondering: what's in them? Having gotten some bad news about her own health, Ellie thinks perhaps it's time to stir things up in Flowertown and find out what's really going on...

This book is a conspiracy theorist's dream, and I love that about it. It's ridiculous amounts of fun, and if you have to suspend some disbelief, well, look at the premise. By the time you open the book and read page one you're already suspending well above and beyond the call of duty, aren't you?

I've seen a number of reviewers complaining about the pervasive drug use in the book. Hey, guys? You're missing the point—Ellie (MINOR SPOILER AHEAD) doesn't start putting the pieces of the mystery together until she stops getting high. Might want to revisit the book's “glorifying” of drugs there. (And that should be all that needs said about that.)

Not to say it doesn't have its problems—rare is the time I will criticize a thriller for being too fast-paced, but there are a few times (mostly dealing with Ellie's visits to the medical center, which begged for more sci-fi-esque description to add to the grotesquerie) when the book would have benefitted from stopping to smell the roses. But hey, if you're a fan of breakneck pace, this sucker kicks off a few pages in and refuses to let up until the denouement a la Doug Winter or Jack Priest. It's a grand old time, with a well-plotted conspiracy and some characters you wouldn't move away from if they were sitting next to you in a bar telling this story. Well, okay, except for the whole chemical-spill-contagious-poison thing. *** ½
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Reading Progress

August 25, 2012 – Started Reading
September 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 10, 2012 – Shelved

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