Review: California by Edan Lepucki

4:08 PM

California by Edan Lepucki | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

“Time moved forward, but the mind was restless and stubborn, and it skipped to wherever it pleased, often to the past: backward, always backward.” 

Edan Lepucki is really on a roll with her novels. Although California was-at times-slow to the point, the prose was incredibly haunting and moving. Unlike most dystopian novels, this one felt... I want to say organic? Like many in the genre, it had its flaws--its bad guys, its struggles, its accusations, but it felt far more real/emotional than many other releases out there. This is entirely due to the velvety smooth and deeply moving way Lepucki has with words--her prose feels like something more than you can explain.

I really enjoyed the concept of it: from the state of the world, to the communities, to the Group*. It is compelling and mysterious, atmospheric and lively. Moments go by and it's almost dreamy in a spooky sort of way. I think that's what strikes me most about California: it is laid back and yet there's still some high stakes going on that you wonder what's really boiling beneath the surface as the plot unfolds.

Frida and Cal are a fascinating pair of characters to read about and their relationship is... I can't explain it? There's just something to them--to the way they live, to the way they love--that pulls at something in your heart and mind. You get tangled and invested in their life outside; their life now and before.

There were other characters that we meet along that way that stir something in your chest, too. I'd call it fear and curiosity and intrigue all tied into one. I loved the general grayness to the morals of a few characters. You can't help but wonder, what's happening? and ask yourself what happens next. I felt like the ending was very open and could have been unsatisfying but at the same time, it was fitting and maybe a little chilling.

Overall, California was an unexpected triumph. It had its moments that felt lackluster to me but it more than redeemed itself as it got into its own grove. Lepucki is the kind of writer who's words you want to wrap yourself up in.

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