Future public radio reporter Lia Haddock, 17, delves into the past to try to explain the bizarre disappearance of over 300 people from a Tennessee research center—possibly including her rarely talked about uncle Emile. Though this book is a prequel to the podcast of the same name, it can be read independently.
Lia is not new to strange occurrences. Her mother, a biology professor, has been disappearing for weeks at a time—absences her passive father explains unconvincingly. "She's at a conference," he says. Encouraged by her journalism teacher to follow her intuition, Lia begins skipping classes to pursue the murky truth—which involves mysterious isolated deaths and dark forces with which her mother may be connected. Flash back to young Emile, brother of Lia's father, whose odd, brainy ways have made him an outcast at school. Emile obsesses over his own missing mother. Identified as a psychic by the head of an underground neuroscience research facility, he is forced into an unsettling experiment involving paranormal phenomena. Increasingly, the line between consciousness and reality is blurred. An uneasy mix of Serial (the true-crime podcast with which Limetown has frequently been compared), The Leftovers (with which it shares an Australian setting), and Stranger Things, the book is less creepy than the podcast, which translates into less compelling. And with descriptions such as "self-admitted moody teenager," it's not the most polished piece of fiction. But for fans of the podcast, it should be reasonably entertaining—at the very least a breezy lead-in to the second season.
Riding the trend of podcasts being turned into print books, this material loses something in the translation. But its family themes come across strongly and at time affectingly.