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California: A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2014
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Everything We Keep: A Novel
On the day of her wedding, she buried her fiancé—and unearthed shocking secrets. Learn More
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2014: What does a marriage look like after the world ends? Edan Lepucki's terrific first novel California finds itself concerned with the human element when society crumbles. The post-apocalypse is beside the point. It hardly matters how we got here; all that matters is what we do next. For Cal and Frida, that becomes a tougher question when Frida discovers she's pregnant. They've survived on their own in the lush, solitary wilderness, but decide with one more mouth to feed, they may fare better within the safety of a small community. As they integrate into a nearby settlement, the couple realizes that they may have traded the hazards of the outside world for the paranoia and mistrust of other people. California questions the role of family and responsibility, and as a portrait of marriage, is perhaps as incisive as anything set in the real world. And with the conviction with which Lepucki renders the realities of her novel, it might behoove us to think of our world as the pre-apocalypse. --Kevin Nguyen
Top Customer Reviews
Without exaggeration, this is one of the most poorly written books I have read in over five years. The entire first half takes place in flashbacks—leaving one to wonder if the book was edited at all. The book’s main characters are tepid and boring, completely lacking the fighting instinct that would allow them to survive this kind of setting, and also transform them from one-dimensional characters into actual human beings whose struggles supersede the page.
Nothing happens in this novel. Nothing. The entire first half is dedicated to a married couple who make up for their boredom with an occasional, poorly written roll in the hay. It makes me fume with rage to hear this described as an apocalyptic novel—this is the laziest account of a post-apocalypse that I’ve ever seen. All Lepucki gives us are vague allusions to storms and droughts, and—presto!—we’re just left to assume the worst without ever understanding what “the worst” means.
The writing is artless, the dialogue forced. This would be fine if this book were a page turner, but it was a physical effort to turn each page at all. It breaks my heart to see this book on the New York Times bestseller’s list when Colbert could have given a bump to so many other outrageously talented female writers—Maud Casey, Deb Olin Unferth, Catherine Lacey, and Stacey D’Erasmo come to mind. Okay—I admit these authors aren’t with Hachette, and that Colbert wanted to boost a Hachette author. But still.
Take my advice and skip this book unless you need something to hurl against the wall.
"...LA's chewed-up streets or its shuttered stores or its sagging houses. All those dead lawns...people starving on the sidewalks...the city wasn't just sick, it was dying."
Cal and Frida live in a remote landscape in solitude, until they find one family a bit further away. But, when Frida determines that she is pregnant, they decide to venture out into a more established community that they learn about from their new friends. Having to rely on each other for all their emotional needs can be dicey; periodically, the differences in their outlooks caused problems psychologically and emotionally.
When they arrive at the new grounds and community, they discover that the charismatic leader's identity is a huge coincidence, one that, honestly, created an eye-rolling groan for me. It was a gimmick that cheapened the story, in my opinion. However, I was able to remain generally engaged in the day-to-day events of Cal and Frida's life. Often, it had a soap-opera-ish feel to it, and read more like a domestic drama for young adults, with the adolescent type of flirtations and triangulations inherent to that group. Also, the dystopian nomenclature tries a little too hard.
Periodically, I felt that Lupecki was shuffling too many ideas at once, muddying the locus of the story.Read more ›
In a desperate state, since they have zero survival skills, the couple decide to follow the trader, suspecting his destination is a place rumored to be a fenced in, self imposed prison-like compound which has food and some sort of social structure. Once inside the compound, this book runs off the rails by inserting one of the silliest plot devices imaginable. This book reads like a hastily written television movie for a cable channel as the "compound" is essentially a replica of the one in the Mad Max movies with the Tina Turner character played by Charles Manson.
What is especially dispiriting is that this book got universally decent reviews - even being compared to Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," which is laughable, except that McCarthy probably doesn't think it's all that funny. That this turkey was published in hard cover should give hope to many writers whose ideas are almost guaranteed to be better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book caught my attention because I had just finished reading The Road by Cormac McArthy which was awesome! Read morePublished 5 days ago by Steven J. Alexander
Pretty boring book overall...
I am usually a rabid fan of all post apocalyptic novels, but this was one of the worst I have read.
I'm a big fan of speculative fiction, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian novels, and so I thought I'd love this book. Some parts of it were pretty good, but overall it isn't great. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Zachary
I see that people are comparing this book to The Road. I'm here to tell you - this book is definitely NOT like The Road even though I can see how the writing style itself is a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lindsay
I love post apocalyptic story and this one wasn't like any I have read before. Interesting characters and exciting twists. Fingers crossed for a sequel!!Published 2 months ago by sarah
Read from January 24 to 30, 2016
Cal and Frida live in a little house in the woods. They farm what they can, and they trade for goods they can't make themselves, and... Read more
California is an excellent, riveting novel about a post-apocalyptic world in which a couple leaves a ruined Los Angeles to forge a life in the wilderness. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Maureen O'Leary Wanket
I found this a bit tough to rate. I liked the premise and the execution with the author going back in time to show how the world broke down, and to give context to current events. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Drew (@drewsant)