I just finished reading Flowertown, a conspiracy thriller by S.G. Redling. The story is about a small town in Iowa that is quarantined after a chemical company (Feno) spills their experimental pesticide near the town. The inhabitants are held captive to a restrictive infrastructure, countless med checks and less than ideal living arrangements. They are isolated from the outside world to prevent the spread of the contamination. The side effect of the drugs they are forced to take is that their bodies give off a sickly flower like smell; hence the designation of “Flowertown”.
The main character (Ellie) was in the town by chance at the time of the spill. Those closest to her were either killed instantaneously by the spill or shortly thereafter from the medications given to rid their bodies of the poison.
Ellie, after a two-year stint in a mental institution, slips into an existence of apathy, laziness….oh, and marijuana. She is a complicated, hot mess. She is sarcastic and sassy and even though she appears to be clueless, she is actually quite smart. She has a budding “romance” with an Army sergeant-turned Feno employee that is plagued with mistrust and betrayal. Her fight for survival lies dormant until she starts to see things crumbling around her as the conspiracy unfolds.
The company that is to blame for the spill collaborates with a big pharmaceutical company to manage the treatment of the town members. It’s obvious as the story develops that there are motivating factors at play. Whereas you would think that with the advent of pharmaceutical advances, after 7 years the town’s inhabitants would be cleansed by the contaminant. Instead, many of them have been told that their livers are failing and they are just being treated with “comfort meds”. While most would resign to their fate, Ellie’s rage unleashes her sass and defiance in the face of authority. You see her true colors when she is backed into a corner. Most animals when caged and abused are eventually going to fight back.
I found that I enjoyed the twisted plot and the storyline kept my attention for the majority of the story. I actually acquired Flowertown on a free Prime membership loan. About 60% into the story, I turned on my Wi-Fi to update my Kindle and it disappeared!! When my free month of prime membership expired, so did my book. Needless to say, I purchased it right away. Those that know me and know that I hate spending money on something that I already had for free can appreciate how much I was enjoying this book.
I felt the big twist coming, but I was pretty surprised anyway which is refreshing. Even though I was pretty close to piecing it together it still had the shock factor. The author develops the supporting characters just enough for you to be pulled into their stories. She makes you wonder if something like this can really happen, and how the government would handle it if it did. Would you stand by and watch as everything unfolded around you or would you rise up and fight?
The story did leave some unanswered questions, which I would imagine could lead to a second book but I’m not sure where they would take the storyline. I felt it wrapped up too quickly and lacked closure for many of the characters we met.
Overall though, I enjoyed it. It was a pretty easy read and I was intrigued by the suspense and paranoia. I found myself pulling for Ellie and hoping that everyone would escape from the greed and abuse of power of those capitalizing on the misfortune of others.
Also available at Barnes & Noble/Nook