If the world s second most annoying couple lives in the woods, will we care Probably not.
Despite great potential, California is a mess of a navel gazing couple looking for love people in all the wrong places Though the setting is post societal breakdown, don t be fooled it s merely a backdrop for normal early adult angst.
Narrative shifts time frequently as the main characters Cal and Frida think about their lives to this date, from their time in L.
A to years before to their recent times living in a shed For the most part, the shifts are handled well Voice also goes back and forth between Cal and Frida, giving the reader insight into their inner thoughts This is important because most of the words have dried up between them and if we relied on dialogue or action, nothing would happen Unfortunately, this leaves the reader wishing for something exciting than Cal reminiscing about college and his friendship with Micah, or Frida thinking about baking at the market and hero worshiping younger brother Micah There were only two years at Plank If you were admitted, it was free, but there was no real degree at the end Most of the boys transferred to one of the Ivy Leagues, went traveling, or fell off the map Many Plankers wanted to fight injustice and poverty throughout the world, though certainly not with religion p.
Which leads me to problem 2, plot Plotting is weak, existing mostly as a framework for characterization Frida may or may not be pregnant she s three weeks late she must be pregnant because nutrient deprived women are never late so she s suddenly determined to find people Cal is equally determined to wrap her in bubble wrap, despite the fact that there is no bubble wrap They head off and surprise People What follows reminds me a great deal of The Walking Dead, season two, when the group sits around the farmhouse talking and washing clothes There s lots and lots of clothes washing and chopping vegetables for the ladies, lots of physical labor for the men And showering The ending is obvious enough that the biggest suspense is whether or not Frida will awaken to reality For those who like the action side of the apocalypse, forget it.
And the setting Half the reason we tune in to apocalypse stories is to try and read the tea leaves of current civilization Sadly, details inCalifornia are sadly lacking There are intriguing hints of cumulative disasters social unrest, shortages, environmental degradation loosely tied to increasing economic disparities I found myself reading to understand how this situation occurred as much as the actual plot see paragraph above , but ended up disappointed Rich people retreated to Communities, which are basically enclaves for people with resources, but it s not particularly clear how those resources remain available I feel like Lepucki borrowed her setting from popular young adult dystopia than creating a concrete vision Eventually the incompleteness of the world building ends up hampering story logic With all of that, I might have enjoyed it had either of the main characters been particularly likeable Frida is an immature nitwit who takes a Vicodin because she misses being high and who hoards secrets from her husband like a brand new turkey baster Cal is stuck between reliving glory days at college and thinking testosterone laden thoughts about his wife It s almost as if they weren t two people living on the edge of nowhere, scraping out a survival, the way they obsessively ruminate about the past Frida is particularly stupid Today, in the kitchen, Cal said, did you get an idea of where they re getting all their food from Where are they storing everything Did they have anything canned I wasn t on a recon mission, Cal No, she wasn t on a recon mission Just because they ve been substance hunter gatherers for the last two years and have suddenly entered a community that may or may not accept them as members, why should she care about food sources Why should she try to understand how the community works Then there s Frida and Cal living alone in a house She loved the hushed quality of her steps along the path Cal was religious abut keeping it clear p.
77 Why And has Lepucki been in a temperate forest for than five minutes Keeping it clear would be a daily activity, and it s a sign saying, people here But Frida isn t only stupid, she s woefully mercurial One minute it s all about the baby, Something about how she d need to stay healthy, that the stakes were higher now that she might be pregnant Then literally, two minutes later, with the Vicodin A buzz that s what she wanted p.
48 Then there s Cal, who continues to refer to Frida as my wife first, then adds her name almost as an afterthought He actually has thoughts worrying about the possibility that the people they meet will be all male and want to take Frida away It s really the wrong kind of perspective to get me to enjoy a character.
Goin back to Cali I don t think so.
Two stars, not because I think it was an okay read, but because it was written competently than a one star book.
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 Deep Seated Resilience Force Us To Question How Far We Will Go To Protect The Ones We LoveThe 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 In The Face Of Hardship And Isolation Mourning A Past They Can T Reclaim, They Seek Solace In Each 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 And 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 Dangers Of Its Own In This Unfamiliar World, Where Everything And Everyone Can Be Perceived As A Threat, The Couple Must Quickly Decide Whom To Trust When I first saw this book I got all excited I love apocalyptic stories and this one sounded like it would be so good I begged for it I pleaded And now I m dnf ing it at 38%.
I ve learned that if the world is going to end that you need to go and get one thing.
A Turkey Baster Don t worry about much of anything else Because if these two characters can survive Just about anyone can Can they feed themselves Well, barely Frida is obsessed with her turkey baster Hey, it s new It still has the tag on it She picked it up before she and her boyfriend Cal head off into the woods to survive She keeps it a secret from him though and only takes it out when she is alone to stroke it Then once Frida decides she is pregnant they head to another settlement so they can be around people She takes the baster as a gift world problems solved.
I will defer now to the awesomeness that is Erica s review to better explain this book.
But one thing first.
thanks for this image in my head Erica I owe you one.
This was, simply put, the worst book I have read in recent memory I m shocked at the number of positive reviews Frankly, I m not sure why I read the entire thing it was disjointed and overly self conscious, and took itself WAY too seriously Even in dystopia wartime, etc , there are light hearted moments where our humanity shines through There s none of that here, no humor, no authentic or believable emotion even believable trauma of any sort To make matters worse, the characters are unlikable and their relationships unbelievable The ultimate insult is that is very poorly written Example the author s only way of communicating that a character is surprised is by writing, She he raised an eyebrow I swear, the phrase raised an eyebrow must have been repeated 50 times.
Ugh, I really wanted this to be good it was an intriguing premise But alas, I wish I could get those hours back Don t waste your money or time.
California in my humble opinion is one of the most realistic post apocalyptic novels that I have ever read No, I have not read The Road yet but it is on my list There are no zombies here, there is not a lot of actionnot a lot of blood, and nooooo love triangles And it is not one BIG BANG that ends the world as we know it of a gradual pfffffffft I am not an expert by any meansbut there was something that seemed to ring very true for me that this could happen if the world keeps going the way it is I am not going to get on my soap box and lecture everyone about greed, global warming, or the way people choose to live their lives but anyone who reads this should take a moment to really let it sink in Because THIS is probably what we are looking forward to if something doesn t change If WE don t change Maybe not in my life time or yours but someday Okay, maybe that was a little soap boxySoooorrrry Cal and Frida are sort of a modern day Adam and Eve living alone somewhere in California sometime in the future It is unclear of how other parts of the world are doing but things have definitely broken down in California and the rest of the USA due to a long slow decline illnesses, loss of natural resources, super storms, climate change The wealthy 1% have flocked to The Communities where things are a little easier, and readily available.
but for Cal and Frida life is back to the basics in their little shack in the woods They are in love they are alone they have what they need.
for nowThings change when Frida realizes she may be pregnant Her maternal instincts are telling her to seek out others for the safety of her unborn child Cal isn t so sure He sees danger in the unknown and he likes to have Frida all to himself but to appease her, he goes along with her wishes and they leave everything behind in search of a nearby settlement called The Land.
BELIEVE THE HYPE California is soooooooo good and it sooooooo deserves the extra exposure it received from Stephen Cobert I have a feeling it would have eventually found an audience with or without it.
com edan lThank you Little, Brown and Company for giving me an advanced copy of this wonderful debut FIRST BOOK PROBLEMS So first off hats off to Lepucki for getting plugged on The Colbert Show by Sherman Alexie There are worse writers and people to get attention, for worse reasons Though, as I now consider California s Frida, a protagonist who looks on at the double helixed scheming of her husband and brother, only to finally acquiesce to them in the name of the greater good and for sheer self interested safety, I wonder what SHE would think of this development Are there two other writers on the Hachette roster with better anti corporate, anti authoritarian, voice of the youth bonafides than Alexie and Colbert How nice of them to plug her book to show NuWal Mart that Hachette, a major international corporation who profit off the hard work of their authors through their multiple subsidiaries and whose holdings and interests are in the usual depressing warmongering places, could still muscle their way around the marketplace with the always hungry local businesses, a faction that up til now Hachette was entirely comfortable with ignoring The industry and the young writers need all the help they can get the idea behind the push was to stick it to and help a new writer No one, I m aware, was promising a masterpiece They were only promising a good book.
Which it basically is You want to find out how California of 2030 50 came to the mid stage dystopia that California artfully suggests warning spikes made of corrugated metal, towering into the sky domestic terrorists blowing themselves and mall shoppers apart in community shopping malls wealthier classes blocking access to emergency medical services because poor people don t pay taxes pirates who strike in bold red colors , and it provides you with answers as it sucks you in You want to find out how this quasi anarchic outpost in the sticks came to be so distrustful pirates dead kids danger and heartbreak and how it came to be sustainable it doesn t it s all a big hoodwinking by their dangerously messianic leader All plotted and put together methodically and timed incredibly well, the revelations coming each in their time All of them coming in a conversation.
How did the spikes get there Well David tells Cal What happened to the children Well Anika tells Frida What happened to the Millers Well August tells the couple What s wrong with the Communities Well Micah is happy to tell Cal and by extension you, dear reader California is 370 pages of prequel and ten of a stranger comes to town It s like the denouement of Murder by Death as setting, plot, dialogue, and character I don t necessarily blame Lepucki for this because all of this is way too much to chew on for a sub 400 page book California, like 1984 in 1948 and A Canticle for Liebowitz in the fifties, are less predictions of the future but well founded fears about the present, run amok Dwindling resources, a starving public infrastructure, severe weather events, an upside down diet where the least processed food is only afforded to the bourgeois classes these are real fears with measurable pernicious effects in 2014 California is as right to ruminate on these as Dawn of the Dead was right to parody stultifying consumerism But all of the above narrowed their fears 1984 with militaristic double speak, Canticle for Liebowitz with the nuclear arms race, DotD with the suburban shopping mall into sharp, penetrating examinations of their day and age and were hella great books and films generations removed Lepucki writes about EVERYTHING, and in the interim tries to investigate the nature of family what lies we tell ourselves in order to feel protected the nature of lying generally, lying as meritorious or altruistic act the tension between boutique and home made and natural products and the hyper capitalism that barely sustains it what is the nature of parenthood, anyway The canvas is simply too small to fit everything, and so one naturally sympathizes with Lepucki and her characters decision to just spit it out and do all the heavy lifting for the reader After all, this is a book about 2014 written in 2014 The book industry is collapsing, and yet each week has new releases than anyone knows how to handle This state of affairs doesn t take into account the blogs, social media, the bingewatching vying for the bourgeois reader s attention, and cetera That s a hackneyed observation, but it isn t less true for its thousandth iteration How on earth could Lepucki have possibly sold a book that handled such sprawling concerns adequately It s tempting to say that we re the generation that bought shoes and we ll get the post apocalyptic novel we deserve vast in topical knowledge, impoverished in critical engagement, ultimately unsatisfying in corrective direction but I can t live without hope Lepucki at least writes competently, and if her characters are infuriating and unlikeable they are at least understandable, their motives discernible She s also one of the few writers I ve read who actually does hard description really well I wished the couple would stay in the otherworldly spikes longer to get imagery like when they hit another wall, six Spikes so close their necks intertwined like swans California, finally, is what it is a promising debut novel with nagging flaws that got caught up in the whirlwind of a corporate pissing match that will, hopefully, raise some boats for independent retailers and give Lepucki the leverage she needs to tell her story as long or as weird as she needs to tell it How suspiciously win win.
Well, that was the dullest post apocalyptic story I ve ever read.
I m just going to refer you to this review add that I really disliked the writing style, logic gaps, and characterization.
Also, I d normally enjoy baking scenes, but the baked goods in Canter s look pretty terrible, so I was mostly scrunching up my nose every time one of those came up.
Haha, this is narrated by the same woman who narrates the Divergent books so this sounds like the alternate Tris and 4bias story.
Alright, soI made a poor decision in choosing this one After I read karen s review, which, by the way, would make a fine opposing viewpoint to this review, I knew it would be a story that irritated me But, see, we were having computer problems and I couldn t get Overdrive to work so I went to Hoopla and they had this there, front n center, and I after all the buzz and Sherman Alexie ing and I really like that guy and Colberting and Down with ing well, I just thought I d give it a shot.
I can t one star this because there is a plot and the writing is fine and there s nothing technically wrong with it.
I just couldn t believe the premise.
That was the thing I could not believe the story None of it My skepticism started with Cal and Frida How in the hell had they survived for 2 years on their own in the wilderness They re morons Complete and utter imbeciles They should have been eaten by a bear in the first chapter My problem began when Frida I started calling her Frito in my mind just to make her entertaining because I hated her HAAAATE was late with her period and decided that meant she was pregnant There were discussions here and there about Are you sure Because maybe you re not for this bunch of reasons, but it was never seriously doubted, her pregnancy Now, ok, let s break this down Cal and Frito had both come from a crumbling society but were still well fed and relatively healthy.
Cal and Frito left the crumbling society for Reasons and have been living in the wilderness for 2 years.
Cal and Frito suck at hunting and their gardening seems limited to beets this is the real reason you liked this story, isn t it, karen Frito can find mushrooms in the forest, though Cal really can t.
Cal and Frito should have lost a LOT of weight on their new lifestyle plan eat raw foods and whatever rabbit they can ensnare work all day on surviving and homesteading SEX all day, every day stress over the world ending, etc All extra fat GONE SO Why is Frito still even able to have periods after 2 years of this new lifestyle plan Why hasn t her body stopped using precious resources to bleed That s what a body often does in times of extreme duress, weight loss, and when in survival mode, especially when a body has been soft and pampered and not used to any of this stuff It s going to protect itself and stop having periods So why didn t that happen Six months in, sure, I could buy a pregnancy 2 years of eating mushrooms and beets and having a lot of sex and hard labor and very little protein No From there, everything else fell apart for me I couldn t buy into the whole premise of the story, ergo, there was no story.
Other gripes Cal is a creeper His fondest dream has been to be trapped alone in the world with only Frida and his dream came true He looks at her a lot, just watching her because he looooves her with all his heart and possessive nature He has a thing for 1950 s American societal norms and wants to be the next and last Ozzie and Harriet whichwhy did he marry someone who is always talking about how she doesn t have to do what men want her to do because she is a human and a person and blah blah blah Frida is a giant waste of words She is an ardent feminist in lipservice but never in action She s shallow She may have some sort of disorder that is never addressed but that seems to drive most of her behavior She s pretty out of touch with reality I really do not understand how she s survived at all And you know what really chapped my hide Frida takes her first good shower in ten bajillion years and you know what she does She shaves She shaves and is thrilled to be hair free again This is the mindset I could not get over A woman who has been surviving in nature for over two years, a woman who has supposedly had to let a lot of stuff go, a FEMINIST who believes women and their images, roles in society, and general actions should not be dictated by the opinions of menis excited about shaving her fucking legs and armpits And then she goes on to judge another woman, one who is actually good at surviving and homesteading and being part of a culty team, for having hairy armpits OMG Seriously This is what Frida does She constructs a ghost of a shell of her former life around her so that she doesn t have to deal with her actual environment and it s frustrating because there are no consequences to this behavior She s not eaten by a bear, she s not trapped in a cave under fallen rocks, she s not sold into slavery by the roaming bands of pirates what , etc view spoiler No, instead, she winds up living in StepfordWifeLandia with her soon to be baby and her cake baking and her shaved legs and her domestic life because feminism was just a passing phase hide spoiler this is another fine literary post apoc survival book.
like The Road, or Zone One, it uses its setting as a backdrop to explore larger human concerns it doesn t focus on the how we got here, but rather on what do we do with what we have left and specifically on the effects of solitude and community on the marriage of cal and frida which makes it sound like an elizabeth berg novel, and it s definitely not, but that was to me the most unusual aspect of the book, in a genre i have read extensively what it means to be two survivors what it means to be two survivors with a third to be born what it means to be two survivors suddenly living in a group of other survivors and the challenges these changing social groups represent for the couple at their center a quick overview while the book isn t very detailed in terms of the specifics of the world altering events, there has basically been a gradual breakdown and decline a combination of weather events, illnesses, energy crises unwinding across the map, leaving many dead, pockets of wealthy gated communities to prosper, roving bands of pirates to pillage, and individuals eking out a life for themselves in the wilderness cal and frida are two of these people the beginning of the book finds them alone, having fled the desolation of LA, surviving in the forest with only each other to rely upon it s not an easy existence, but they are happy, in love, still passionate about each other in this prelapsarian setting but with a decidedly postlapsarian outlook, filled with memories of what they have lost their only contact is august, a man who travels between the various isolated homesteads, trading for supplies frida s realization that she is pregnant brings the first shift in their relationship, along with the strain and uncertainty about what bringing a child into this new world would entail when she inadvertently learns of a community nearby, she decides she wants to relocate there with cal, who has his own reasons to be suspicious, but eventually decides to take the chance, for his family to have a shot at a life with all the benefits of a community.
but it gets complicated than either of them had foreseen.
obviously, i am going to leave that for you to find out for yourself, and it is the meat of the novel, but for me the uniqueness of this book lies in what engagement in and with this community does to cal and frida as a couple there are plenty of reasons why their situation becomes problematic, which are SHHHHH, but in the background of all the larger dramas is the constant stream of how just the very presence of others changes their relationship after years of having only each other, suddenly they are surrounded by other people, other voices, other conversations and perspectives and sights and sounds and suddenly they have different roles and distractions and parts to play and needs to fill and even though it is just a quiet element of the book, for me, it was the most fascinating and revelatory this book is a success on every level, and i am so pleased to see this genre thriving and evolving and being put to great use as a way to dissect the very essence of humanity and still tell a ripping good story thumbs to the sky you can also pre order it on bn.
com, i feel i should say in my own self interest or powell s just not e to my blog