California

California

A Novel

Book - 2014 | First edition
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OPL_AnnaW May 01, 2020

Society as we know it has disintegrated, and a young couple living in the woods think they're alone. One day, they come across a new community, peopled with characters from their previous lives, with dramatic consequences.

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EljayJohnson
Oct 06, 2019

The little I liked: the apocalypse of this dystopian novel. Without a ton of detail, it's clear that what's happened is the ills of our current society - climatic, political, and social - amp up to the point of the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it. That part is cleverly done. Our heroes, married couple Cal and Frida, interested me some at the beginning, but they become more idiotic as time goes by and the central question - just what the heck is going on with the isolationist community called The Land - becomes tiresome and ENDLESS. Then there's the rushed and nonsensical ending. Ugh. Simply not a particularly well-conceived novel. And the use of a turkey baster (I kid you not!) as a meaning-ridden symbol was cringingly awful.

c
chazbufe
Oct 10, 2018

Absolutely horrendous. The author obviously knows _nothing_ about the area she sets her story in, nor about wilderness survival. She doesn't even try to provide an explanation for pivotal background events (that is, why society has fallen apart). She has no political or social points to make. The writing in places is quite awkward as she tries way too hard to come up with original analogies and descriptions. And her central character is dumb as a box of rocks.

j
jeanmdavis
Jun 03, 2018

meh - not a great book

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Eye_of_the_Potato
Jan 21, 2018

Gaaah!

LPL_KateG Jan 02, 2018

I am late to the party on this one, but listened to the audiobook (available on Hoopla!) and enjoyed the story. It was not my favorite post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel, BUT it had an intriguing storyline, interesting (read: not super lovable) characters, and made me think about how we'd treat various communities and lifestyles in the wake of disaster.

Cynthia_N Jun 17, 2017

This felt like a softer take on the post-apocalyptic trend. The U.S. as we know has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer recognizable. Frieda and Cal have been doing fine out on their own but now Frieda is pregnant and wants to find people. It does have a few twists and turns and I enjoyed it!

bickjd Mar 01, 2016

The near-future dystopia that Lepucki has imagined seems all too plausible for comfort. Lack of economic opportunity and destructive environmental hazards have devastated the west coast. The dominant commodity is now a sense of safety. Whether that means being held up in one of the high-priced-Orwellian "Communities", or creating a fortified commune in the woods. This story illustrates the different lengths people will go to feel secure, and the different meanings or interpretations of what security is.

Secrets play an important role in the plot, as if they were a character themselves.

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lukasevansherman
Jan 11, 2016

Dystopian fiction: so hot right now. This buzz book from 2014 (see the Colbert bump) is a dreary, lackluster post-apocalyptic tale that takes place in. . .California! Who knew it'd be so boring? Has some similarities to Walker Percy's "Love in the Ruins."

1
1tarheel
Nov 05, 2015

I was loaned this one at the same time as Neal Stephenson's 'Reamde', which is twice as long and took half the time to read. Lepucki appears still to be working on her craft. Conceptually intriguing, this story is saddled by odd, tangential dialog and not-particularly-insightful psychology of people. Ending is convenient for author and mystifying for this reader: one of the bigger duds I've encountered.

l
librarylizzard
Feb 19, 2015

A slow crumble of government and civilization (widespread blackouts, food shortages, gasoline prices inflated to the point that only the wealthy can afford to travel) compels two twenty-something newlyweds to relocate to the remote woods and live off the land.

This book had the potential to be so much more than it was. The writing was not top quality, which drove me to distraction throughout. The plot also felt overwrought at times, and in the end the story was just not ringing true; I couldn't get past the poorly written melodrama of the couple's relationship or the fact that the most intriguing components of the story were often glazed over.

All in all, as a lover of apocalypse/dystopia, I would not rate this very highly among its genre.

a
avratt
Dec 04, 2014

A complete disappointment. Characters are totally unlikable and I found myself wanting to mentally slap all of them repeatedly thruout for their blatant stupidity.
Author made it appear that main characters at book's end are on the way to living happily ever after, totally ignoring a huge looming disaster disclosed earlier, but not in such a way as to invite a sequel...which I wouldn't read anyway. The "finale" seemed to be a rush job.

j
JimmyGman
Dec 02, 2014

Little bit of a let down. Thought the story started well, flashbacks were okay, the future is a civilization of disconnected tribes - if that, and the ending was...missing in my view. It was interesting, but nothing nearly as good as Station Eleven. Go read that if you want an end of the world story. Skip this.

MacGreenBear Nov 29, 2014

Slow, boring and uneventful. I kept expecting something to happen...something! Like other readers I too looked forward to this one, especially after the Colbert Bump...sadly very disappointing. Would not recommend to anyone, ever!

Chapel_Hill_ShannonB Nov 19, 2014

A unique post-apocalyptic story that feels all too real. I loved the plausibility of the environmental reasons for the destruction of civilization and the survivalist aspects of the story.

a
athena14
Oct 27, 2014

Surely there could be a lesbian couple on the Land. But no, everybody's straight.

s
supernae03
Oct 18, 2014

Predictable.

k
kelliyfults
Aug 29, 2014

Nearly a waste of 3 days... I have read many post-apocalyptic stories, and this lacked mood AND originality. None of the characters felt compelling (I never felt a thing for Frida) I read the entire book hoping that Sheman Alexie's recommendation on the Colbert Report would be validated; not so!

w
writermala
Aug 09, 2014

This book is in a class of its own. Set in Post apocalypse California, the main characters are Frida, her husband Cal and her brother Micah. The characters are very well sketched and the author's vivid imagination has portrayed the situation that Cal and Frida find themselves in very well.
The books start out with Cal and Frida fending for themselves, living in a shack in the wilderness, but then Frida becomes pregnant and they try to head for the nearest settlement. Will the settlement accept them? Do Cal and Frida really want to be a part of this mysterious settlement? Are they better of here than they were in the woods by themselves? Can they ever go back? These and other questions are answered in "California," a really good read.

silvertree Aug 08, 2014

If you like post-apocalyptic stories, try California. Not for all, since it isn't in-your-face survival, but rather the emotional and spiritual side of trying to survive after civilization is gone. Thought-provoking for the serious post-apocalyptic fan, and now on my list of read-agains. Don't we all keep secrets like Frida and Cal, wanting to do the right thing but sometimes settling for safety instead? Really intriguing themes.

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "Debut novel from Edan Lepucki. California is a dystopian novel, but not a conventional one, as the specifics of the climate apocalypse sort of fall away into the background as this unusual book focuses on its characters and the intricacies of their relationships. Frida and her husband Cal have left the hopelessness of LA behind and settled alone in the wilderness of California. But even here, their pasts will follow them and create new and unsettling complications. This is a suspenseful, compelling book, a bit uneven in places but definitely worth a read."

m
MintyFreeze
Jul 25, 2014

Meh. Didn't even finish the book before returning it.

SLS71 Jul 22, 2014

I got through 100 pages and am giving up, which is too bad as I was really looking forward to this. So far most of the story was told via inner thoughts and memories, which is like being with someone who talks to much, and does very little to move the story. On top of that, the structure is very messy.


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