Here’s an elevator pitch for you: Take the podcast Serial and mix in a healthy dose of The X-Files style government experimentation, conspiracy, and cover-up. That’s ‘Limetown’, the podcast.
Here’s another one: Craft a novel that covers the backstory of one very mysterious character and how he’s connected with the main character’s life, dreams, motivations, and purpose. That’s Limetown: A Novel, the prequel to the podcast.
For the sake of clarity, for the remainder of this article Limetown in italics will refer to the novel; ‘Limetown’ in quotes will refer to the podcast; Limetown unadorned will refer to the actual town.
Discovering the Limetown Podcast
I discovered ‘Limetown’ in late 2015, at what might have been the best possible time. I (like 80 million other people) had finished season 1 of the podcast Serial, and was looking for the next thing that would scratch that itch. I ran across ‘Limetown’ on the podcatcher I was using at the time, and the description intrigued me. At the time they had only published three full episodes and two short teasers in between.
I was immediately hooked. The format was very similar to Serial, but the story was fiction. More than that, it was my favorite type of fiction: science-fiction with one foot planted firmly in this reality. The available episodes were enough to get me completely hooked, and then I had to wait anywhere from 1-3 weeks for new episodes. It brought back all of the feelings of anticipation, intrigue, curiosity, and engagement that I had watching LOST years before. Long story short, ‘Limetown’ season 1 is a masterpiece.
Then… An almost 3-year wait for season 2…
Limetown: A Novel Debuts
But when season 2 came in October 2018, it also came with the release of Limetown: A Novel. The novel is a prequel that follows Lia Haddock from about a year after she learns of Limetown and what happened there. Or, at least, what anyone is willing to say about Limetown. Because it’s a huge mystery what actually took place there. And everyone seems to want to speculate and uncover what happened at Limetown.
Everyone, that is, except for Lia’s parents. Her father’s brother, Emile, was connected to Limetown somehow, but neither her father nor her mother seem interested in saying anything about him or his connection to the mysterious events. Hers is a story of uncovering and connecting the dots in order to discover the truth.
Limetown also follows Emile himself (in a dual storyline), on his journey from high school sophomore outcast to head researcher at a top-secret private institution doing research into the human mind and its nearly limitless potential. His is a story of finding and losing, finding and losing again – friends, family, love. His story is a tragic one. But like most tragedies, he is ultimately the one with his hand on the steering wheel, driving the car across the median, so to speak.
A Must-Read for Fans of the Podcast
Coming into Limetown, I actually had pretty low expectations. I listened to season 2 before I read the book (actually, I listened to the audiobook…), and season 2 was a bit of a letdown for me, but that’s probably due to my massive expectations going into it after the tour de force that was season 1. So I was able to approach Limetown with my hopes a little more managed.
And the novel (again, audiobook in my case) did not disappoint even a little bit! The pacing was great – it started a bit slow, picked up steam following Emile and Lia on their respective journeys, and then had some great reveals late in the book, which I will not spoil, as they are genuinely important to the story.