An acclaimed "5 Under 35" fiction writer's much-anticipated first novel
In 2012 Claire Vaye Watkins' story collection, Battleborn, swept nearly every award for short fiction. Now this young writer, widely heralded as a once-in-a-generation talent, returns with a first novel that will more than meet listeners' hopes, harnessing the sweeping vision and deep heart that made her debut so arresting to a love story set in a devastatingly imagined near future.
In a parched Southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country's conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet's abandoned mansion. Most "Mojavs", prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.
For the moment, the couple's fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. Heading east, they are waylaid in the desert by a charming and manipulative dowser - a diviner for water - and his cultlike followers, who have formed a colony in a mysterious sea of dunes.
Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins' novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
©2015 Claire Vaye Watkins (P)2015 Penguin Audio
The narrator cannot pronounce the name of the main character correctly, and in fact pronounces it exactly the way the story says not to, about twenty minutes in. I could not keep listening. Only made it about a half hour in. I cannot stand this kind of assheadedness from a narrator. Drove me batty. Could not stop getting distracted.
Freelance theatrical designer in Chicago - listening to books while I paint has become my new favorite hobby!
I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, but I think that comes from how complicated the female protagonist is. Luz is a broken as a person can possibly be, but continues to find the strength to carry on. As her choices, and often mistakes, continue to affect all those on her journey with her, you will fluctuate between hope and despair. In a not-too-distant future world where the earth has used up it's resources and the horizon looks bleak, there is not much that is uplifting about this novel. But it's honest, brutally honest. I was immersed in it from beginning to end and upon finishing the book, have only been looking for someone to talk to about it.
I hate Luz and I love her. She's so much like so many people I know. In the end she does exactly as you know she should but you hate her for it. It's a really sad story but it's compelling and beautifully written. There are places where you go 'what the hell is happening??' But the story is really good and I loved this book.
I'm giving the Story only 3 * because it was such a depressing story, yet well written. If you like those kind of books, this one is the book for you. For me, it left me feeling empty and sad.
California is a Desert blooming in water. This is a harrowing story of what could happen if all the water was taken away. Values of every aspect of life would be drastically altered. Luz, Ray and the baby that finds them are travelers in a time warp.
Enjoyable book for the commute. Definitely a lot of creativity and thought went into the characcters, wish there were more explanation of what is happening in the rest of the world, or what the wars were about, but hopefully Ms Watkins has saved that for another novel.
So many science fiction books (especially now) seem to document this world of never ending drought, its not clear how the rest of the world is faring, but Cali is quite a mess!
Details of Los Angeles help bring reality to this dystopian future.
The author had a good idea for her novel. Her depiction of a future, drought ruined West is well imagined and well told.
Her characters are simply awful. Shallow, silly, pompous and on the verge of being unbearable. The narration, particularly the parts read by Jorgeana Marie, doesn't help. The extended passages of the main female character's "thinking" almost got me to quit listening, something I almost never do. The real low points, however, are the dialogs. So stereotypical that they are almost funny. But not quite.
Not recommended. At all.
I'm not sure what I just listened to. This story was ridiculous. I feel like the author was trying really hard to build a dystopian novel, and lost whatever storyline she was aiming for shortly after the child was kidnapped.
Lackluster at best.
I heard the author on NPR and decided to get the book. I really wished I had not. It was stupid, boring, poorly written and certainly not worth my time.
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