Book Review on California; a fully-developed, post-apocalyptic world that will keep your heart close to home.

California: a novelcalifornia novel

This debut novel by Edan Lepucki is a brilliant, thought-provoking story set in a post-apocalyptic world that is not so far from reality.

Cal and Frida, a young married couple, are forced to leave the world–and everyone in it–behind once Los Angeles becomes too dirty and dangerous to live in. Struggling to survive on their own in the forests of California, Frida becomes pregnant. Do they dare bring a child into this world where they can barely take care of themselves? Unable to contain their curiosity and stifle their loneliness, Cal and Frida venture away from their home in the woods and find themselves immersed in an unpredictable, complicated world they never could have imagined.

The World

Lepucki not only imagines a fully-developed world, but shares every aspect of it to the reader. The focus on this post-apocalyptic world, how it works, its flaws, its dangers, and its secrets highlight the things that will never change; love, companionship, community. Lepucki shows the reader multiple lifestyles of this world but beneath their varied surfaces, everyone is insecure and incomplete. As a reader, this novel made me appreciate the world of privilege I live in and often take for granted.

Imagine living in a world where your only neighbors are trees.

The Writing

Thought-provoking. Seamless. Creative. Full. Interesting. These are all words that describe Lepucki’s writing.

The transitions in California were mind blowing. At one point early on in the novel (pages 67-75 of the hardcover), the prose was juggling current action, intense emotion, multiple backstories, and future secrets all in the same 8-page section. The most impressive part was that I didn’t get confused for a second. The transitions in this section were non-stop; jumping from present time, to a backstory, to present time, to a different backstory and all of it was relevant and interesting.


Point of View

Although always 3rd person, the point of view changes every chapter between the two main characters’ perspectives. This method was executed with perfection. Always keeping it in 3rd person, as well as using the chapters as natural switching points, kept confusion at bay. The two main characters, one male and one female, offered different perspectives and opinions on this crazy world that the reader is introduced to. It also allowed the characters to keep secrets from one another while the reader saw the whole pictures, adding suspense to the plot.

I deeply enjoyed the POV changes, feeling that it gave me a complete, personal picture of each character as well as their motives. I found myself in happy inspection of different scenes throughout the book, trying to decipher why Lepucki chose to write specific scenes from the chosen point of view. A true testament to her writing ability is that not once did I wish a scene was written from the other character’s POV. It was obvious a lot of thought (and likely revision) went into deciding what scenes would be most interesting/revealing in what character’s POV.


I’m tempted to put this book on my “Favorite Books of 2014” list (COMING SOON!) and therefore award it FIVE STARS!! The writing and the story affected me in a personal way and I am certainly excited for Edan Lepucki second novel!



About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on December 30, 2014, in Book Review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve debated about getting this book but your review makes me most definitely want to read it! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  1. Pingback: Best Books of 2014! | Glass Typewriter

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