Format: Hardcover, 393 pages.
Source: Barnes and Noble
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Thoughts: Here we go. Another post-apocalyptic survival story. Like many other readers, this book first appeared on my radar because of the “Colbert Bump.” After putting this book on my to-read list I proceeded to forget all about it until Christmas break. I ended up spotting this book in the store (last one) and made a spontaneous decision to purchase it, finally. California took me by surprise, and although I still have issues with the plot itself, I must say that it’s one of the most realistic post-apocalyptic novels out there. I enjoyed it more than The Road.
Cal and Frida are sort of like a modern Adam and Eve. They have found shelter somewhere in the woods of California after leaving their home. There are mentions of other Communities, but the two believe it’s safer to remain together. It’s only after Frida learns she’s pregnant that she forces Cal to find others that might be able to help them. My biggest problem with story was that I had a difficult time understanding how the world worked. Lepucki would mention Communities and a group of “activists.” I had a difficult time completely understanding what their goal was in the story. Eventually it started to make sense, but only after I got more than half way through the novel.
On the upside, my favorite part about this book was how it depicted human behavior in a time of struggle. It felt real. Cal and Frida’s relationship wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. For most of the story they didn’t trust the people around them, and couldn’t always trust each other. Lies, jealousy, and doubt made frequent appearances. This novel takes a look at humans in their rarest form and explores just how far they’ll go in order to survive. Edan Lepucki did a fantastic job with this.
I wouldn’t say this book was amazing, but in the end I’m glad I read it. I’ll be sure to watch out for new works from Edan Lepucki. California is her debut novel.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.