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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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California: A Novel Hardcover – July 8, 2014

3.0 out of 5 stars 428 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Booklist

The catalysts for the current wave of postapocalyptic novels are many, from financial collapse to climate change, yet the bludgeoned, class-stratified, post-tech worlds writers envision are eerily similar. Still, from this blasted landscape, imaginative stories of survival by writers such as Margaret Atwood and James Howard Kunstler flower. First-time novelist Lepucki steps gamely into this arena to tell the tale of Frida and Cal, an ardent couple who have fled decimated Los Angeles to try to live off the land. Their only human contact is with a mysterious itinerant trader until they eventually discover a family homesteading nearby and learn of a strange, labyrinthine border of towering spikes. What is this structure protecting? The perils are many, everyone is vulnerable, and there is no reliable information beyond that of the senses, emotions, and intellect. Lepucki’s characters, therefore, must weigh every word, expression, and gesture. This results in too much disquisition through conversations, and the plot falters, but the settings are haunting and Lepucki’s inquiry into the psychology of trust, both intimate and communal, is keen and compelling. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316250813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316250818
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I wanted to root for Edan Lepucki, I really did. In fact it’s taken me a while to write this because I always try to be supportive of debut female authors, but I just don’t feel like this book is getting the reviews that it deserves. In fact, I have to wonder if Colbert even read this book before he gave it the endorsement that changed the author’s course for the rest of her life.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This dystopian story follows married couple Cal and Frida in the middle of the 21st century, who left LA following a slow and steady apocalypse, as the country was running out of food, supplies, and supportable habitation. The Internet dried up, and the scramble to peaceably and comfortably exist was running on empty. Although it doesn't state definitively what occurred, it is evident that climactic conditions and carbon footprints were involved.

"...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.
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By Drwo on August 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a great concept, poorly executed. Fleeing Los Angeles, a yuppie couple settles into an abandoned cabin in the woods in a "living off the land," cell phone free, technology free, post meltdown world. Unfortunately, the book simply does not hang together - when the couple meets some neighbors, it appears they will have fellow drop outs to befriend. In a bizarre plot turn, the couple are once again alone, except for a trader on horseback who comes through monthly to sell or bargain for provisions.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I, too, was duped by Colbert's endorsement of this turd. I regret not reading more reviews of this book before buying it. I love extrapolative fiction, but this book is truly awful. The writing is pretentious, boring, awkward, and full of annoying comma splices and random punctuation. Lepucki’s post-apocalyptic story is centered on a woman who seems to enjoy sneering at her husband over petty crap, likes to call attention to herself like a narcissistic teenager, and tries to get along with a group of people who are obsessed with sarcasm, gossip, and harboring meaningless secrets from one another. In Lepucki's view, genuine human struggles and folly take a back seat to petty jealousy and squabbling.
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