Tag Archives: Little Brown

Review: California

California
California
By Edan Lepucki
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316250818, July 2014, 400pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

In a post-apocalyptic world, is there safety in numbers?

The Rest of It:

The story in California takes place several years after the world has gone to hell. Cal and Frida leave the ruins of Los Angeles to make a life for themselves in the forest. The city has become too dangerous for them and with resources being as scarce as they are, the forest seems like the only reasonable option.

But they are not alone in the forest. Close to them, is a family that helps them and provides the much-needed interaction that Frida craves, but when Frida hints at wanting to know what is outside of their immediate circle, she’s basically told to stop thinking about it. This doesn’t sit well with Frida. Especially since she feels that her husband Cal, knows who is out there and is keeping the information from her. To further complicate the matter,  Frida believes that she might be pregnant, which forces her to consider her options.

I live in California so this book had obvious appeal to me, even without the whole Colbert/Indie bookstore buzz. But I must tell you, as readable as it was, it missed some key elements to really make it a success in my eyes:

  • I didn’t care about the characters. I don’t need to like them, but I need to care about what happens to them.
  • Too much build-up over Frida and whether or not she was pregnant.
  • The secrecy of everything was overplayed. Big time.
  • It wasn’t clear to me who was good and who was bad. You’ve gotta have people to root for and they all seemed a little sketchy.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered by the ending which is what everyone seems to talk about. I wasn’t surprised or miffed or even curious because I didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them. ANYTHING could have happened and I would have been fine with it. I wanted to feel something for these characters but they were either too weak, too secretive, or their motives were unclear.

I know this all sounds very negative but I do think Lepucki captured the isolation of the early days, pretty well. When you are living in what could be the end of days as you know them, you must have hope or things get bleak pretty quick. I liked the story best when it was just Cal and Frida. They don’t entirely trust one another, which makes their marriage rather unique but Cal seems cautiously hopeful about the possibility of a child.

That cautious optimism was enough to keep me reading but then something happened.

The story took a turn and then I was like, what just happened? I thought the story was going one way, and then it went a totally different way. Not necessarily a bad way. I was still curious at this point but then the characters got all weird and their motivation seemed weird too and I suddenly had no patience for any of them.

Does it deserve the hype? Not really. Was it an interesting story? Yes. Is it book club worthy? Could be. There is a lot to consider. Is it better to be isolated or part of a community? When the world is ending, is procreation important or is it a bad idea to bring a child into a world without hope? I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead and when baby Judith was born, I was like… what in God’s name were you thinking? But at the same time, if you don’t populate the earth, eventually everyone will die out, right? So, this is an important question to ask but I am not sure it’s fully explored in the book.

I don’t know if the author has any plans to write additional books with these characters but if she does, then that may explain why some of it felt half-developed. If she does come out with another book as a continuation of this one, I’d read it just to see where she goes with it.

In the end, it was an okay read but it was fun to discuss with other bloggers.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Three

The Three

The Three
By Sarah Lotz
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316242905, May 2014, 480pp.)

The Short of It:

Three strange children, four plane crashes and a media frenzy gives this a ripped from the headlines feel.

The Rest of It:

Four commercial airlines crash within minutes of each other. There are only three survivors, all of them children. Their families don’t know what to make of it, when their personalities prove to be different from how they were before the crash. Religious fanatics think they are the devil or that they are a sign that the end days have begun. The media, ever-present, want answers to all of the numerous questions being asked. Why these three? Are they the chosen ones?

With the Malaysian flight disappearing and then the other Malaysian flight getting shot down, commercial airlines have been in the headlines for quite a while and I happen to read this book between the two events, which gave it a surreal feel, to say the least. But based on the reviews I’ve read, I expected a more horrific read. One blogger said it was “terrifying” and another said it was worthy of nightmares. Really? I thought it was pretty mild as far as plot.

Much of it takes place after the event and with the media presence and the journalistic format of the novel itself, I felt a little detached from what was taking place between its pages. You know how it is. After a major disaster, the TV channels are overrun by footage and first hand accounts. At some point, there is no new info and you just can’t take it anymore. That is how I felt with this novel. About 3/4 of the way through, I got tired of it and moved on to another book. I only decided to finish it just to see if there was any resolution and even that is debatable.

As a quick summer read, it’s entertaining and a page turner but I would have liked the format to be a little more varied. It had too much of a newsy feel to me but I know a lot of readers that really liked that aspect of the book so obviously, it’s my own personal opinion.

Have you read The Three? Want to discuss the ending? If so, leave a non-spoilery comment and I will send you an email.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.