Monday, October 20, 2014

California by Edan Lepucki

When Cal and Frida left Los Angeles behind, it was to start fresh - just the two of them. The world has changed and life in the city is all but impossible. Neither of them can afford to live in one of the communities that have cropped up around the country, but Cal has the skills to live off the land and support them both. Then Frida discovers that she may be pregnant. With a third life to consider, the couple decides it might be necessary to strike out and explore their surroundings. For a long time they've known that there are others nearby, but they've avoided all contact until now. 

I wasn't sure how much to share about the overall plot of Edan Lepucki's debut. The ultimate pull of the story is discovery. Discovery of Cal and Frida's story, discovery of the nearby settlement, discovery of the secrets that everyone is living by. To give too much away, then, would ultimately kill the suspense.

I'm also at odds with my own opinion about the story, which obviously makes it harder to review as a whole. On the one hand, the discovery I mentioned above kept me interested. On the other hand, I'm undecided about whether the ultimate revelations were really the pay off I wanted.

The story ebbed and flowed throughout, with high points and lulls. Of course the high points kept me intrigued and drew me through the story. The lulls, though, drove me a bit nuts. I really want to go into more detail but I just don't want to risk giving too much away. I guess I'll limit myself to saying that there are a lot of questions that come up in the book. Lepucki addresses some but not all of them and those that are addressed aren't always done so in a way that was expected nor did some of those questions seem to warrant as much secrecy or tension.

California was a good read and one that I did enjoy, for the most part. I feel I should point out that while it is set in a post-apocalyptic world, and there are a lot of the horrors one would expect with such a setting, it isn't a very action-packed tale as a whole. It's a very character-driven story and much of the tension I spoke of surrounds Cal and Frida and the various choices they're faced with.

Rating: 3/5

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