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BOULDER COUNTY: Crime, Love, and Cannabis, West of the 100th Meridian
Cannabis farmer Buddy Fisher keeps Colorado’s legalization euphoria at arm’s length. Banned from going legit due to prior felonies, he’s happy living off the radar breeding super-potent hybrids, catering to the underground cannabis culture, and watching the sun set over the land his family has farmed for three generations. But keeping a low profile becomes tricky when skyrocketing demand for his bootleg weed catches the attention of an agribusiness giant wanting to cash in on the burgeoning marijuana market. Buddy brushes off corporate operatives demanding he hand over the illegally grown seeds. Intimidated county officials warn Buddy not to underestimate agribusiness political power and make sure he understands that the true meaning of their threat is nothing less than federal law enforcement seizing his beloved land. Soon, fellow weed farmers experience agribusiness wrath via burned crops, mangled machinery, and brutal assaults. Buddy has a choice to make. But giving in to corporate ambition would destroy his reputation and self-respect. Fighting back could cost him his life.
Plot/Idea: 5 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 6.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: By focusing on a cannabis farmer, Krulewitch provides an immediately compelling premise, following through with unexpected developments and insights into the commodification of marijuana and the resulting conflicts.

Prose/Style: The prose is stylistically frank and sparse. The author's ability to convey emotion and depth while maintaining cohesiveness and concision, is no short of impressive.

Originality: The real originality in the novel lies not in this novel's actual plot--there is a vast library of books about bootleg drugs. Here, though, Krulewitch offers electric storytelling and a host of dynamic characters, allowing for familiar topics to feel new again.

Character Development: As with the prose rating, the novel is particularly strong here, with the flawed characters being both likable and unlikable at once, neither savior nor destroyer entirely, and always someone the reader can truly relate to. The characters speak with organic and realistic language, with their own sense of humor and agency. In this sense, Krulewitch is particularly gifted in both writing and world-building.

Date Submitted: August 23, 2019

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