The 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 despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and 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 but 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 its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.
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 irrepressible resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.
©2014 Edan Lepucki (P)2014 Hachette Audio
"Stunning and brilliant.... A wholly original take on the post-apocalypse genre." (Dan Chaon, author Await Your Reply)
I think like most people, I was directed to this work because of Stephen Colbert. But also because this is a genre that I read a lot of.
First of all, the narrator sounds like Lisa Simpson. She did a tolerable job, but I don't think she should make a career of narration.
Second of all, this doesn't really deserve to be categorized as dystopian. Although that is ostensibly the story background, it's really a juvenile romance. Although the characters are supposed to be in their 30s, they act like they are still in high school...except maybe for the psychopathic serial killer.
I'm not sure California by Edan Lepucki deserved the Colbert bump. The book was featured a month before its release on The Colbert Report, when Stephen Colbert was reporting on the Hachette v Amazon dispute. The concept sounded fascinating. A husband and wife in California after the world has been desecrated. You never do learn what happened but it sounds like a combination of war, global warming, and society just breaking down.
So what's wrong with California the novel? Pretty much everything. The book doesn't really have the necessary elements of a good story. Like a beginning middle or end. The book is just there. You meet the focus of the book Cal (short for Calvin and also his nickname California) and Frida who are living in the wilderness after escaping Los Angeles. Without going into too much of the plot (or the minor resemblance's of a plot) its about their survival and the survival of those around them.
I was listening to the audiobook and kept looking at the time left in the book and was wondering when something was going to happen. Yet nothing ever really happens. Frida complains and Cal consoles, and their characters switch roles a few times, but in all honesty nothing happens in this book. Both characters come off flat, and just have little to no redeeming quality.
I guess that's my biggest issue with California. Where in a book like The Road you've got the main protagonists to root for in this bleak existence, I found myself not necessarily caring about what happened to any character in California. And then the book just ends. Rather abruptly going ahead briefly in time and then just ends. I listened to the ending a few times hoping that I missed something. Nope the book just ends and thus ends my review on California. An interesting concept that led to a lackluster book.
As I said, much ado about nothing. Not to mention the narration is terrible. Totally wrong cadence.
it turned out to be a story about "not much at all" by the 6th hour into the book it became painfully obvious that nothing exciting was going to happen other than just the same old dull chatter. and by the 11th hour I was just finding myself watching the timer hoping the end would come soon.
maybe the question should be "what character would I add to the story?"...the story really lacked anybody exciting I could connect with!
The narrator consistently emphasized the wrong words in sentences, mainly verbs, e.g. He WENT (pause) to the river. She WALKED (pause) to the house. Also a lot of super strange pauses for no reason.
I listened to Divergent by the same narrator and thought the narration was fine, not great, but certainly passable. I'm not sure if she didn't get a chance to read the book ahead of time or what, but it became too frustrating to listen to the horrible narration. Once you begin noticing it, it's impossible to focus on the story.
The story managed to be both charming and gripping. I listened almost non-stop and didn't lose interest until the last fifteen minutes. The ending was anti-climactic, at best, and left me wanting more of the relationship dynamics and the tension among the inhabitants of The Land.
Actually, the narrator's voice would have worked if she had read well. It seemed as if she didn't even look over the book before she begin narrating. Some of the poorest reading I've ever heard, her misplacement of punctuation and the halting way she spoke, was ultimately detrimental to the story.
Todd W. Brown
Okay, don't let the 3 stars fool you. There is a lot to like about this book, but a lot NOT to like. It has a real Cormac MaCarthy feel as you are slowly introduced to a world where it is obvious that things have gone terribly wrong. You are never told exactly what took place to put everything in a tailspin. Instead, you are given nuggets as the narrator weaves the story through the eyes of Frida.
One of my issues with this book is the lack of a character to actually like. Nobody has any charm about them, and Frida makes the same mistakes over and over, including at the very end to the point of frustrating the reader to a point of distraction.
Perhaps you will enjoy it. But go in with reservations. Heed some of the other reviews that are less than glowing. I think this title remains obscure without Stephen Colbert's "bump".
I gave up on this book at chapter 7, 3-1/2 hours into it. I just can't take the narration. It's distracting and it's impossible to follow the story. Emma Galvin sounds too much like a teenager for a story featuring a woman in her late twenties. She also pauses too long for commas and periods. One should not be able to hear the punctuation. She's probably a good narrator for a young adult novel, but not for this. I've listened to over 300 audiobooks and this is one of the worst narrations I've heard.
I gave the story three stars. I think I might like to read it in print someday. It seems like it might be good, but not in audio.
Overall, the characters' behavior is too illogical and impetuous. They behave in inexplicable ways and in the end, the novel falls apart because you have to think, "No, she wouldn't do that" or, "He wouldn't say that"
I thought Emma Galvin was one of the more successful readers I have heard.She is consistently clear and doesn't try accents or "voices". You can easily follow a conversation that different characters are speaking, but it isn't because of "ACTING!".
I am not a huge fan of speculative fiction. This novel had received such interesting notices in advance, that I was intrigued. Having completed this, I am less likely to attempt more of it.
I was too happy to leave California in the dust. And I live here. There was a lot of potential that was left unfulfilled. I kind of feel that the novel was rushed and could have used more time to have been developed and the characters to be fleshed out/ made to behave consistently.
Honestly my problem is with the book, not the recording
The first 5 minutes was Frida thinking about the turkey baster she so coveted and hid from her husband Cal. This did not bode well for the book. The audio book narrator didn't do the book any favors either--she sounded like a 14-yr-old boy, and her reading of every character was exactly the same.
Mostly it was just a boring story with an obnoxious main character (Frida). I can't even figure out what to say about her. She's vapid, selfish, mistrustful of her husband for no reason, has little understanding of people. Cal however was a likeable main character, his only flaw his love for his idiot of a wife who has a tendency to ruin everything because she's so clueless.
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