I go to turn on my Kindle about a week ago and there is an image of a tattered fence with a biohazard sign hanging in the landscape of Smalltown U.S.A. Sorry, but you drop an image like that in my face and you have all but marketed yourself into a sale. I follow the link to learn more and the plot summary tells the woes of a small rural town in Iowa that became the site of a chemical spill. The grounds and town folk were contaminated and the residents quarantined… the residents that survived that is.
Flowertown is the type of book that makes you glad Kindle was invented. Published independently by a morning radio host, S.G. Redling, this is exactly the type of book that likely would not have been published a decade ago, but has flourished under the ability for Amazon to take low-risk, high-return on rookie authors.
Redling’s tale of residents held in drab conditions under an almost dictatorish regime of the same pharmaceutical company that caused the disaster to begin with creates a twisted irony that if you are shot by a doctor he would be the one to treat you in the trauma center. So crazy it is clearly possible in our society.
The one fallback of the book is it takes a good 50% of the book to really get wound up in the conspiracy that is blindly tearing the last hopes from Flowertown. And when the conspiracy does begin to take form it does so at a pace that can at times be confusing, but not by any means unable to follow. But with medical terminology and medications the learning curve appears much more steep than reality.
While the conspiracy may take time to develop, the book is almost get go from the start. Ellie, the protagonist is a short fuse, high-energy pot head stuck in a small town she was only breezing through making her a loner not only by choice, but by a society stand point that small town folk seem to shun outsiders even when you think they are smiling at you. From page 1 she is a reader’s hero, the type to want to succeed and genuinely like. Not because she is the hero so to speak, but because she is the flawed hero with baggage, not the white knight without fault. A John McClane (Die Hard) if you will.
Like any good conspiracy everything you think you knew about the story is flipped upside down and the author tries to give the perceptive reader some signals, some are a little more obvious and give you a strong sense of what is going to transpire. While you can identify players and motives of some characters, the book is good at hiding the true nature of their intentions. At points you will be telling yourself, how can they be so blind, wanting to yell through the Kindle at them to open their eyes and see someone for who they are, by the end of the story Redling does a good job of laying her cards on the table and explaining how people could miss the information just laid before their eyes.
At just under 400 pages the book is a breeze to read even for a conspiracy. Aside from the medical jargon and medication that are all but required for a story of this nature the author does a good job keeping the story flowing and easy to read without needing to look up words or terms. If you have ever read Robin Cook, whose books I love, you would know what I mean.
At first I was feeling like the book ended abruptly, lacking an epilogue. But after thinking about it for a few it was fitting that it is resolved, but slightly mysterious. In society we are fairly used to having everything wrapped up in nice little bow these days, but it is nice to have that ambiguous ending.
Read All You Want.