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|Print List Price:||$14.95|
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Flowertown Kindle Edition
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|Length: 379 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Seven years ago the chemical spill of an experimental pesticide killed scores of people in rural Iowa, and those who survived are still living in hell. The properties of this pesticide make people who have been exposed to it carriers, so they've been herded into a compound, quarantined by the US Army, and compelled to take drugs that wreak havoc on their bodies in an effort to keep them alive and prevent the spread of the poison. Everyone who takes the drugs gives off a sickening sweet smell, hence the name Flowertown for the containment zone. After years of isolation the infrastructure is crumbling--it's hard to get anybody in to fix things--and since TV and internet rarely work they are almost completely cut off from the world in their dilapidated outpost.
We see all of this through the eyes of Ellie Cauley, who has a hair-trigger temper but has given up expecting anything to get better. Her best friend is full of conspiracy theories and her roommate is enduring extra debilitating drugs in the hope that she can suppress the pesticide's affects long enough to attend her sister's Las Vegas wedding, but Ellie spends her time getting high and fraternizing with an army sergeant. That is until it starts to seem like her paranoid friend is right. When their situation starts to become even more suspect and sinister, Ellie fights back with the only thing left to her, her rage. Don't start this book late at night--it's very hard to put down once you begin reading it.
Secondly, the heroine. She is not a stunningly beautiful (but doesn't know it) kick-ass girl just waiting for someone to love her. She is a young adult - in her early 20's. She has flaws,and hides in a haze of marijuana smoke from most of what is happening to her. She does not have magical powers and was not destined for greatness. She is not trained in combat. She does not have two guys fawning over her in a cliched love triangle. In fact, romance plays a fairly small part in the story overall. Our heroine is reluctant and flawed and human, and most of all, relatable.
What we do get is a really intimate and scary medical thriller. We get a lot of backstory told in ways that are not big static info-dumps. We get a strong sense of setting and wonderful memorable details. We get characters making decisions and trying to figure out what is going on at the same rate as the reader is, so there is a lot of suspense and tension. The plot is action-packed and nicely reveal in a pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You aren't sure who to trust. The writing is sharp, well edited, and precise. It's got humor and sass.
The criticisms - okay, Guy is a bit too good to be true, He should have given up on Ellie well before the end. Bing and Ellie are a bit too precious in that John Green-esque dialogue way. They fly off the handle and then make up again and again. Rachel is a bit too good and pure and convenient to figuring out the plot points mid-book. Ellie stops smoking pot and overnight can run without hacking and gasping like a true pothead would have. It is stated way too many times how infrequently Ellie bathes and how filthy her clothes are. Ellie makes a leap of logic in two places that seem too convenient. The contaigen seems too easily controlled.
The audiobook is very well narrated by Tanya Eby.
This was a surprise as I had not heard of it before, and it was a perfect summer read.