Golden State

Narrated by: Kiff VandenHeuvel
Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
4 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From award-winning New York Times best-selling novelist Ben H. Winters comes a mind-bending novel set in a world governed by absolute truth, where lies are as dangerous as murder.

In a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else, Laszlo Ratesic is a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, a nation standing where California once did, a place where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life and governance impossible.

In the Golden State, knowingly contradicting the truth is the greatest crime - and stopping those crimes is Laz's job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths, to "speculate" on what might have happened.

But the Golden State is less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the truth requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance and recording. And when those in control of the facts twist them for nefarious means, the Speculators are the only ones with the power to fight back.

©2019 Ben Winters (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"This near-future thriller by Edgar winner Winters is likely to provoke discussion." (Publishers Weekly)

"Thought-provoking, genre-bending...Winters seems to have a real affection for unusually compelling premises.... He certainly knows how to bring those premises to life in a way that keeps readers flipping pages.... What's especially intriguing about the book is the way Winters dispenses information, dropping a hint here, a key sentence there, and letting us figure out what happened in the past that led to a society in which the punishment for telling a lie could be exile.... Another fine novel from a writer whose imagination knows no bounds." (Booklist)

"A skillful and swift-moving concoction.... For those who like their dystopias with a dash of humor. No lie." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Golden State

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As good as Underground Airlines, probably better!

“Imagine if everyone did it. Imagine if each person were allowed the luxury of claiming their own truth, building a reality of their own in which they can live. Imagine the danger that would pose. How quickly those lies would metastasize and the extraordinary threat that would pose to the world.” (Laszlo Ratesic)

Sounds like today’s politics!

I loved Winters’ last novel, Underground Airlines, and I wasn’t disappointed. In an alternate California, in a universe where truth is the ultimate law and lies are punishable by imprisonment or exile, Laszlo Ratesic is a veteran of the Speculative Service, the “truth police.” But the Golden State is not the paradise that its name suggests. The truth is monitored, verified, and enforced by 24-hour intrusive surveillance and recording. And when those in control of the facts twist them for nefarious means, the Speculators are the only ones with the power to fight back

3 people found this helpful

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3.41 stars

In this audiobook it is a felony to tell a lie, so in the spirit of truth I must say that Golden State was a bit of a disappointment. I was looking forward to this release because I really liked Winters' last novel, Underground Airlines. Golden State has its moments, but there are not many of them, and it just wasn't all that engaging. The idea was okay. The story was okay, and the narrator was okay. Overall, it was just okay.

Overall rating: 3.41 stars

6 people found this helpful

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Clunky and cliched, but still kinda fun

I didn’t dislike this book, but from the beginning I had 2 issues: 1) the narrator is a cliched version of the gruff detective character, complete with love of fast food, emotional unavailability, but a heart of gold. 2) the “truth”
Society is likewise so over the top caricatured that it can only be used as a foil (which it is). Would’ve prob worked better as a short story.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating but no ending

I really enjoyed this book, finding the premise and setting fascinating. It has great worldbuilding and I found myself very intrigued - however, having just finished it, I am still intrigued. The ending didn't resolve anything, there are still so many unanswered questions. Is this planned to be a series? I hope there's more to come because it feels like there was a lot left unsaid.

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wait, what?

So, there's a sequel to actually resolve this or we're just left hanging?
I was enjoying the story but it seemed to take forever to get anywhere and then suddenly they put a brick on the accelerator and I couldn't follow.

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Disappointing

The idea is interesting but its so dull . Loves the writing style but this whole novel just so confusing especially at the end.

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Wonderful Narration

I always enjoy this author, and I particularly enjoyed this book. But the narration was the best part.

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Frustrated & Confused

This book had an intriguing premise, that's for sure – but absolutely nothing made sense. And not in a way that's like "it's up to the reader to figure out what happened," in a way that's like "why did these 7 or 8 plot points not resolve in any capacity?" The ending, in particular, was a huge letdown.

I won't lie, I finished it in a few days because I was intrigued. The combination of the writing & narration made it seem like a futuristic/sci-fi/dystopian noir law enforcement mystery. For that reason, I can't in good conscience give it 1 star. But man... the book wraps up leaving absolutely no questions answered. None of the characters' motivations or actions were explained and the ending seemed unfathomably rushed (as in... the last 15 minutes of the audiobook), like a halfhearted excuse to explain away huge chunks of the book.

I finished this book extremely frustrated & confused. I don't doubt that this writer has potential, and the story's characters and premise DEFINITELY have potential, but my humble recommendation would be to skip this one.

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Abrupt ending to a fantastic story

Wonderful narration and gripping plot. A few major twists which were exciting. The book concludes faster than what would feel comfortable, but it definitely worth the read.

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Great book!

Totally gripping and unpredictable . A contemporary Brave New World. Perfect Narration, great story. School kids should read this book.