Dystopian fiction is so addictive that it colors my view of the world. After too much binge reading, all government entities begin to look threatening, from the overly jovial crossing guard at school to the angry tea party candidates on TV. But when I binge on too much young adult dystopian fiction, the world becomes even more disturbing with the addition of teenage romance. As much as I enjoy young adult literature, there’s only so much unfulfilled sexual tension and young love that I can take. Edan Lepucki’s novel California was a welcome respite from all that teenage angst. Losing myself in this great dystopian read for adults was pure delight.
After a series of increasingly violent weather patterns, the modern world has begun to crumble. All of our other fears have come to fruition. Fossil fuels have almost run out. Food is scarce. The internet is a privilege for the rich. Universities have failed. The wealthy have escaped to sealed communities with shared values, leaving the poor to struggle for surveil in violent urban war zones.
Cal and Frida are a newly married couple in their twenties. They decide to leave the violence of Los Angeles behind and head to the wilderness to forge a new life. Far from the turmoil of the city streets, they learn how to hunt, farm, and clothe themselves. Occasionally they interact with a few individuals living near them, but for the most part, they are alone. With only each other for entertainment, their marriage is tested, especially once Frida learns that she is pregnant.
California alternates between’s Cal’s and Friday’s points of view, giving the reader a fascinating keyhole to witness a marriage in a dystopian world. Lepucki’s novel has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity as the poster child for Amazon’s feud with Hachette after Colbert asked his viewers to buy it to shame Amazon for its scorched earth tactics. Regardless of the hype, it’s a thrilling read, filled with interesting ideas about the future. During Lepucki’s On the Media interview, she mentioned that she has no intention of writing a sequel, and is currently at work on another novel firmly grounded in the present. I’ll be excited to read whatever she reads next, but hope that she will eventually write another dystopian tale, featuring another aspect of this interesting future she invented.
California is currently in hardcover. It’s available at BN.com and now at Amazon and other booksellers. Amazon is currently selling it for $15.60.