Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: Anomaly Flats

Read 10/24/15 - 11/4/15
3 Stars - Recommended to readers who don't try to anticipate where a book will lead them
Pages: 238
Publisher: Dapper Press
Released: October 2015

Welcome to Anomaly Flats, a strange little town out in the middle of nowhere that's tough to find and even tougher to leave behind. From the all night diner that only serves waffles and clumpy coffee to the hypnotic night sky and corn fields of insanity, why would you ever want to leave?

Well, Mallory Jenkins can think of a million reasons. On her way to Canada with a Jansport bag filled with something worth running away for, she gets detoured down a back road and finds herself stranded in Anomaly Flats when her car dies as soon as she enters the town. Forced to hang out for a few days til the drooling, brain damaged mechanic can rebuild her alternator, Mallory quickly befriends Lewis, a nerdy scientist who's made the Flats his home after having been sent a letter from his future self.

Lewis exposes her to the things that make the town, well, an anomaly. Oddities like a working traffic light in the middle of the woods; a creek of flowing plasma that manipulates organic matter; two square feet of Mars just chilling out over the ridge. That's right. Part of the planet Mars, nestled quietly within the town's boundaries. Oh, and let's not forget about the horrors that live behind the canned goods in Aisle 8 of the Walmart.

During one of their outings, Mallory pulls a prank on Lewis that ends up having dire consequences and puts everyone in the Flats, and the rest of the planet, in imminent danger. Will Mallory quit being a self centered disbeliever long enough to help save the world from the evil she's unleashed? Or will she attempt to high tail it outta town and leave Lewis to clean up her mess?

One part Wayward Pines, and many parts Twilight Zone, Anomaly Flats is just about the creepiest town I've had the pleasure of reading about. From the secretive towns-folks to the constant and strange goings-on, readers are left with no choice but to keep turning the pages to figure out just what the heck is happening there.

And really, hats off to Clayton and his publishing company Dapper Press for coming up with one of the best promotional campaigns I have ever seen for a book. From the "Department of Tourism" travel posters and book trailer to the community updates via its twitter account and Review Lab exclusive giveaway, the hype was quite impressive. So impressive actually, that I worry the book doesn't quite hold up under it all.

I was an immediate fan of Clayton Smith after having read his zombie-novel Apocalypticon. And though I enjoyed Anomaly Flats, I felt it just wasn't in the same league. Sure, his characters were infused with similar witticisms and our protag Mallory wasn't without Smith's trademark sarcasm, but the story telling in Anomaly Flats just seemed.. rushed, for lack of a better word. I wish Clayton had spent more time delving into the uncanny mysteries and eerie anomalies of the town. This is a book that requires its location and setting to be as big of a character as those who actually populate it.

That aside, Anomaly Flats is fun, fast paced, and fabulously funny in its foreboding darkness.

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