California by Edan Lepucki

CaliforniaI saw this book on the blog when I followed the link for challenges. I selected it because it was reviewed as a post-apocolyptic or dystopian novel. I have enjoyed other books with this type of theme, so I thought this would be a good choice for me. The novel is 389 pages, and it took 150 slow pages for me to become invested in finding out how the story was going to resolve itself. Unlike Hunger Games or Divergent, which I don’t foresee happening in my lifetime, California is set in a version of the United States that I fear we could one day experience. Civilization has broken down due to certain environmental and other events. The wealthy have closed themselves into private, gated communities with most of the resources, the major cities have rotted and deteriorated, and small, organized groups are pursuing avenues of public pressure and violence in an effort to improve life for all. The story follows Cal and Frida, a couple who decides to leave L.A. and head into the forest in an unspecified part of the country. The book details their trials and their surprise when what they thought they knew of the world is turned upside down with a shocking discovery. While the book did finally draw me in and make me want to neglect other things to finish it, I would recommend it with reservations. There is nothing wrong with the writing style, but it was not an escapist novel with a sci-fi feel like so many other books that are tagged as dystopian society or post-apocolyptic. I cannot really put my finger on why I wouldn’t recommend it heartily other than it was depressing and I could see some of it happening.

Read last year’s summer reading review of California.

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Sandi Hauenstein
Rating:  Recommended with Reservations
Challenge: Book with One Word Title

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