First of all, thank you to the reblogbookclub for picking California by Edan Lepucki ( italicsmine ) as the latest selection. It was an absolute joy to read this novel and it may not have been one that I would’ve picked up on my own. Also a huge thank you to littlebrown for sending me a copy of the book.
Now, let’s get to it.
The world is crumbling. Cal and Frida have decided to leave their apartment in L.A. and try to start over in the wilderness. But what starts out as a story about a couple trying their best to survive ends up being a really poignant story about trust, family, and the end of the world.
Admittedly I haven’t read a lot of post-apocalyptic novels. But I think the reason that this book resonated so well with me is because Lepucki’s end of the world seems so…realistic. In California the United States has been slowly crumbling from an increase of horrible natural disasters, dwindling resources, and a larger gap between the wealthy and the poor. Medical treatments are hard to come by and antibiotics only work some of time. All of these play into Lepucki’s world and pretty much all of these are already happening in the current world. This could easily be our future.
Another huge theme of the book is secrecy. From the beginning of the book Cal and Frida keep secrets from each other. As the story progresses they hoard more and more until it threatens to tear them apart. Pair that with all the secrets of the land around them and the people in their life it gets hard to know who to trust. After about the first third of the book I pretty much questioned everything else.
I adored Lepucki’s writing. From chapter to chapter, arc to arc, and even from the very beginning to the end she kept serving up twists that I wasn’t expecting. [Spoiler] With the exception of Micah being alive. That one I kind of saw coming. But luckily Lepucki used that character to spawn a bunch more problems for our protagonists. The story ends in such a different location from where it starts. But in terms of how the characters are living, it’s not so different from the beginning.
What was also well done is that nobody was painted in a totally good or totally evil light. Everyone was created from shades of gray. Some characters do really horrible things, but they do them for the sake of survival. It’s hard to classify any of the characters as completely bad or good.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written story, post-apocalyptic or distopian novels (or movies) of any flavor, or characters who are flawed and not totally likable. This is Edan Lepucki’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her.
I gave it a 5/5 on my Goodreads account which translates to “It was amazing.”