I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction these days. I think the sense of impending doom surrounding academia, plus my graduation with no immediate job prospects in sight has me retreating to dire fiction to be comforted. Or maybe that’s what I’m telling myself? Either way, I’ve got a lot of reading in my stack, and Edan Lepucki’s California has been on a lot of 2014 lists. I thought I would give it a shot.
Cal and Frida are a married couple who have left Los Angeles and find themselves trying to eke out a living in a post-digital, post-apocalyptic world. His family has died, and hers has gone to live in a Community, where she has never seen them again. Her brother Micah died when his extremist group sent him on a mission as a suicide bomber. They spend their days trying to find food and recollecting their time with their neighbors, the Millers, who died mysteriously. And then Frida discovers that she’s pregnant. Spurred by the rumor of a community beyond a set of constructed spikes, they decide to find a safer life for their child. But they’re unaware of the dangers ahead.
This book started out very promisingly. I was really interested in the depiction of marriage isolated from society and the idea of trying to eke out a living alone (just as in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake). But the second half of the book drooped significantly for me. The reveals became increasingly silly, and the character motivations were unclear. And then, the book ended stupidly. I don’t want to say how, but I slammed it shut. It was a dissatisfying experience altogether. Boo.