"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

California by Edan Lepucki

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 2/5 stars

This book was difficult for me. I considered quitting a couple times. This book takes place in what is basically a post-apocalyptic America. When things started getting really bad, Cal and Frida left LA and made their home in the wilderness. They've been making a decent life for a couple years, but then Frida becomes pregnant and wants to find something better.

Bottom line: I hated Frida. Just hated her. She was such a worthless person. She suspects she's pregnant and yet still takes Vicodin when its offered because the apocalypse is depressing and she wants to escape. Seriously?? Could she be a shittier person? She tries to act like she's this enlightened, independent woman (by not taking her husband's last name or by complaining about how sexist the division of labor is in the apocalypse), but then she spouts shit like this:
Even when things got difficult between them, doing Cal's laundry made Frida feel a love so tender she could weep.
WTF? I love my husband and I occasionally do his laundry (we take turns like any good little feminist family), but I generally don't think about how much I love him while washing his damn clothes. My thoughts are usually more along the lines of "omg, am I done yet?" or "god, this sucks" or "seriously, everyone in this laundromat is fucking weird." And then there's stuff like this:
That first summer, a porcupine had walked into her path, quills up, and Frida sucked in her breath and turned around, ran back to the shed crying like a kid. She imagined coming upon a bigger, more dangerous animal, being eaten alive. 
Seriously, could Frida be more annoying? Oh yes, she actually can be! Instead of growing, she just gets worse as the book progresses. Often female characters aren't physically strong, but they're emotionally strong. Frida is neither. She's totally worthless. Why does Cal love her? Seriously, I have no idea. I spent the whole book trying to figure it out because Cal is a pretty decent guy.

Frida and Cal's relationship is strange. Sometimes they're depicted as being totally in love, but then other times they seem miserable. They constantly lie and keep things from each other. I imagine if it wasn't the apocalypse, they would have been divorced pretty early on. Mostly because Frida is not emotionally mature enough for a successful marriage.

The flashbacks in this book are really scattered and there were just too many of them. I'm fine with flashing back to the past - it's usually necessary in dystopians - but this was extreme. The first quarter of the book is basically Cal and Frida doing basic chores while thinking about past events. And just when you think something would actually happen, there's another flashback.

That being said, I actually did like the world building. And eventually some interesting things happen. But I'm not sure all of that was worth putting up with Frida.

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