California by Edan Lepucki

Click on cover to visit book’s page on Goodreads.

Stand alone title: published 7/8/14

I borrowed this book from my library for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge, saving me $26.00.

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can’t reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown but unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent,California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and irrepressible resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

My Review:

My initial impression of this book is what an interesting read.  California is extremely plausible, almost as if the author opened up a window to give us a possible glimpse of our near future. This book had me thinking well into the night after I read the last page.  Wondering where the story went after it finished, what events and behaviors in our current society could lead us here, and how would I survive if the world came to this, what kind of life would I choose.  Really, very interesting read.  A book that perhaps even Plank alumni might debate over a meal(if you read the book you’d get that).

The start is a little slow, it hooked me,  just that there was some back story that needed to be shared and I felt that I wasn’t getting my questions answered fast enough.  By the end I did feel that I had a pretty good idea of what happen, so stick with it if the book is a bit bogged down for you. Not a lot happens until they set off in search of others.  Once they do though, wow it is a helluva ride and I enjoyed watching all the pieces fall into place as Ms. Lepucki painted her picture of this future society.

As I said this a plausible future in my opinion and I appreciated how she broke the society down.  There are the loners, more paranoid people who just want to be left alone to survive in this broken world.  Then we have small settlements of people who band together to work and share resources, often being preyed upon by the pirate thugs of this Dystopian society.  Then we have the Utopian communities where people pay to live in a comfortable shadow of the what the world used to be, the top 1% of this new world.

The story is told from Cal and Frida’s alternating points of view as we follow them through all three types of society and learn just how twisted the world has become.  All along the way this book had me questioning what would I do to just survive; who would I trust, could I kill, could I lie, could I detect a liar, would I have what it took to live in this world that might be.  What would be acceptable behavior to help shape this world into something that was safe, and fair, for everyone.  And then you have the question of for whom.  Who gets to make these calls.  Who should get to decide what is right for everyone, what is needed or not.  So many questions filling my mind as I read.

This is a perfect for a book club or reading group.  The only thing holding me back from giving it that fifth star is its abrupt ending.  I am satisfied with where it left off. I felt it held true to the spirit of the book;  one that evokes such introspection need not answer all the question to have a fitting end.  I guess, I was just hoping for a little bit more.  I wanted to know what Cal and Frida did once they reached their final home.  What about the Group, the settlement, or the communities.  What was going to happen next.  But then again I kinda like not knowing.  It leaves the story for me to draw my own conclusions about where this world is headed.

My Rating: 4 Stars



3 thoughts on “California by Edan Lepucki

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