Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “California” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.22  ·  Rating details ·  17,320 Ratings  ·  2,792 Reviews
A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far beh
Hardcover, 393 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about California, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Patrick Brown
If you're looking for an unbiased review, you can look elsewhere. I'm married to the author of this book. I read drafts of this at various stages and since I know the author in the Biblical sense (hey now), I am completely incapable of giving an unbiased review. But if you're interested in hearing why I think this is such a tremendous novel and such a fun read, read on.

There are many "post-apocalyptic" books in existence, but what I love about California is that it feels very mid-apocalyptic. Th
Haha, this is narrated by the same woman who narrates the Divergent books so this sounds like the alternate Tris and 4bias story.

Alright, so...I made a poor decision in choosing this one. After I read karen's review, which, by the way, would make a fine opposing viewpoint to this review, I knew it would be a story that irritated me. But, see, we were having computer problems and I couldn't get Overdrive to work so I went to Hoopla and they had this there, front-n-center, and I ... after all the
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
this is another fine literary post-apoc/survival book.

like The Road, or Zone One, it uses its setting as a backdrop to explore larger human concerns. it doesn't focus on the "how we got here," but rather on "what do we do with what we have left?" and specifically on the effects of solitude and community on the marriage of cal and frida.

which makes it sound like an elizabeth berg novel, and it's definitely not, but that was to me the most unusual aspect of the book, in a genre i have read extens
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
When I first saw this book I got all excited. I love apocalyptic stories and this one sounded like it would be so good. I begged for it. I pleaded. And now I'm dnf'ing it at 38%.

I've learned that if the world is going to end that you need to go and get one thing.

A Turkey Baster

Don't worry about much of anything else. Because if these two characters can survive. Just about anyone can. Can they feed themselves? Well, barely. Frida is obsessed with her turkey baster. Hey, it's new! It still has th
CALIFORNIA- in my humble opinion- is one of the most realistic post-apocalyptic novels that I have ever read (No, I have not read The Road yet- but it is on my list). There are no zombies here, there is not a lot of action...not a lot of blood, and nooooo love triangles. And it is not one BIG BANG that ends the world as we know it...more of a gradual pfffffffft.

I am not an expert by any means...but there was something that seemed to ring very true for me- that this could happen if the world kee
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: maybe people who like young adult dystopias with relationship issues?

If the world's second-most annoying couple lives in the woods, will we care?

Probably not.

Despite great potential, California is a mess of a navel-gazing couple looking for love people in all the wrong places. Though the setting is post-societal breakdown, don't be fooled: it's merely a backdrop for normal early-adult angst.

Narrative shifts time frequently as the main characters Cal and Frida think about their lives to this date, from their time in L.A. to years before to their more recent times
Ryan Dejonghe
Jul 03, 2014 rated it did not like it

Colbert tried, but Lepucki’s characters killed the hype train. I mean, it was exciting watching Stephen cause mayhem with Powell’s charts. The comment sections on that site are a bit anemic, so the boost was nice. But, maybe he should have read the book first. I don’t want to sound mean, but really.

This book has a bit of the television show LOST’s vibe, but without the deep secrets, mystery, science fiction, and violence. Or without the enriched characters. Especially without the enriched charac
Aug 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
This was, simply put, the worst book I have read in recent memory. I'm shocked at the number of positive reviews. Frankly, I'm not sure why I read the entire thing: it was disjointed and overly self-conscious, and took itself WAY too seriously. Even in dystopia (wartime, etc) , there are light-hearted moments where our humanity shines through. There's none of that here, no humor, no authentic or believable emotion (even believable trauma) of any sort. To make matters worse, the characters are un ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it

So first off: hats off to Lepucki for getting plugged on The Colbert Show by Sherman Alexie. There are worse writers and people to get more attention, for worse reasons. (Though, as I now consider California's Frida, a protagonist who looks on at the double-helixed scheming of her husband and brother, only to finally acquiesce to them "in the name of the greater good" and for sheer self-interested safety, I wonder what SHE would think of this development. Are there two other
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
A tour de force!
Wendy Darling
Well, that was the dullest post-apocalyptic story I've ever read.

I'm just going to refer you to this review:

And add that I really disliked the writing style, logic gaps, and characterization.

Also, I'd normally enjoy baking scenes, but the baked goods in Canter's look pretty terrible, so I was mostly scrunching up my nose every time one of those came up.
Brandon Nelson
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
After buying a digital copy of California and finishing it last week, I strongly considered going to a B&M store to purchase a physical copy. My plan was to pick it up from the store and then light it on fire, but I decided that supporting Edan Lepucki would have been the worst thing I've done since buying California the first time.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Edan Lupecki’s California feels decent but incomplete. I liked the book but probably retain more gripes than praise. After finishing the novel I felt emotionally manipulated, for example, but the “pregnant lady in a dangerous world” thing, but upon reflection Ms. Lupecki may just be good at drawing in/freaking out a reader. California is particularly strong in the nuances of the two main character’s marriage/relationship, e.g. the way they rationalize (or don’t have to rationalize) keeping secre ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
WOW. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. I worry that to tell you anything about this book would be a complete spoiler--I went in knowing just that it's set in a semi-future and no more. You should do the same, but beware: I devoured this one in a day, and was completely unable to stop reading. Don't expect to be able to keep any dinner plans after you've started. It is seriously great.
Rebecca Foster
The literary dystopian is becoming a crowded genre, and California, with its belabored suspense plot and tedious world-building, does not really compare to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Hinting at environmental catastrophe but focusing on human relationships, it tries to inhabit a middle ground between those two precedents but ends up feeling rather juvenile. So you get duff lines like these:

• “These men were up to something.”
• “God, she could be such a selfi
I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and can generally find redeeming qualities in even the most repetitive and unoriginal stories. Not only did this book not live up to the hype, it adds nothing to the cannon of great post-apocalyptic fiction out there. If anything, California is a poor recitation of literary themes and evidence of lackluster character and plot development.

A quick summary: After natural disasters and illness decimate the US (and presumably the world), food and electri
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Every once in a while, something in the news reminds me that the rule of law is tenuous. It's so easy to take peace for granted. It's unsettling, and then I go on with my life. This book is a whopping dose of that unsettled, itching feeling. Life as we know it seems to slip away so easily in California, perhaps because the "apocalypse" isn't just one thing, but a series of problems that snowball into societal breakdown and people run amok. Amok! The characters have to make some really tough choi ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not satisfying to me either as literary fiction or as genre. The sentences aren't beautiful, and the plot is thin—not much happens in the present tense, and it feels like you're reading an updated Greek play, where characters come onstage to say, "Hey, someone got beheaded once, a long time ago!" Not much happens scene by scene, either; there are no small moments of believable tension or awkwardness. Characters aren't well-drawn; apart from Cal and Frida, they're an indistinguishable mass. We're ...more
Diane S ☔
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 so the world as we know it has ceased to exist. All the things we are being cautioned about now, loss of energy, pollution, global warming, severe weather changes, have all come to pass. Some cities are inhabitable and several large corporations, two which names made me chuckle because they are so much in the news for their strong arm tactics, have started secure gated communities.

Cal and Frida are a young couple who are living off the grid, alone in the woods. They will soon find a settlem
Reading California in California - where there is only 12 to 18 months left of water in Socal, if the drought persists - is a particularly uncomfortable experience. The world of California could be closer than we think, and I don't want to be the lady carrying around a turkey baster at the end of the world.

The world of California seems reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, especially since both feature the rich-people compounds where the world crises can be safely ignored. But I think California does
Jun 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
Where I got the book: e-galley from NetGalley.

I’m a sucker for a dystopian premise, but such novels usually end up depressing me and California was not the exception to that rule. I wish someone would write a novel about a future imperfect where people behave well, cooperate and don’t turn all weird just because civilization ends but NO, writers generally seem to believe that absolutely everyone is selfish and dark and savage at heart, ever since Lord of the Flies I think.

In California, Cal and
Anne Kelly
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. This novel seems to promise so much but delivers little. A husband and wife are living in the woods off the grid after the normal world has gone to hell for some reason never stated. All alone, they are slightly bored -- and so was I. Even when they join other people, nothing happens. Most of the action is off-stage, recounted by a witness or in backstory. In spite of the constant talk and endless explanations, none of the characters were clear to me; the main characters flip-flop in th ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Someone here on goodreads said that this read like a first draft. I agree.

Someone else said that the writing was average at best, siting the example: "Cal didn't like that. He didn't like that he didn't like that". I agree, and good example.

Someone else said that it seemed like the only thing they'd ever do was have sex. Yes it sure did.

So I just couldn't finish this. The writing was too lackluster and felt so strained. There were four letter words thrown in here and there that just didn't fit
Althea Ann
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
There's a possibility that I'm getting a little burned out on post-apocalyptic fiction. (My themed book club means that I've averaged one P-A novel a month for the last 5 years or so...) Either that, or this book is just sort of medium-good. I'm leaning toward the latter.

As the curtain opens, we meet Cal (sometimes called California) and his wife, Frida. Since the collapse of civilization, they've been living in isolation in a shed, roughing it without any of the conveniences of modern life. We
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
Spoilers below.

I really, really wanted to like this, but the horror in this post apocalypse is being trapped with two of the blandest characters in recent memory.  In the beginning, I had hope that Lepucki was going to write a scathing critique of the nostalgia for patriarchy inherent in the genre, but a third of the way in, our heroine is baking and fretting over a pregnancy, and in a move to jump start a leaden climax, makes a decision akin to ripping off her bikini and leaping into shark infe
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read mostly non-fiction and perhaps I expect a storyline to make sense. Here we never find out the nature of the apocalyptic event that predates this story other than a couple references to bad storms thousands of miles away, yet the local society seems pretty comfortable walking around in tee shirts and denim. The location would seem to be central/eastern California with a population so scarce that one can walk for two days without evidence of a single person and this breadbasket country can ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Entirely believable take on a post-decline America. It was not an apocalyptic event but more of a slow decline due to forces of nature, corrupt government, and civil unrest. The story follows a young couple who has escaped the dangerous neighborhoods of LA for the solitude of living in the old forests of northern California. Very good but those who want action and adventure might find it a bit slow.
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The whole time I was reading this I was hiding from my 3 month old and my husband so I could find out what was going to happen next. What a wonderfully written story, I am in love with the two main characters. The book isn't even out yet and I am already wondering about a sequel!
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"California" (metaphorical title) is BRILLIANT! A wonderful 'FRESHNESS' to this novel.

A post apocalyptic world: (almost chilling realistic). The world had already been going to shit for many generations before this: overpopulation, pollution, drought, disease, terrorism, earthquakes, suicide bombers, hurricanes...all adding to our 'collective fears' of major collapse. The plot with its characters are thrilling, compelling, stimulating, entertaining, witty & seductive!!!!

Living in nature: Y
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: California, by Edan Lepucki 2 17 Feb 02, 2017 07:02AM  
The Next Best Boo...: California - Author/Reader Discussion 85 119 Jul 01, 2016 06:40AM  
Play Book Tag: California by Edan Lepucki 2.5 stars 1 9 Jun 23, 2016 09:37AM  
Dystopia Land: California by Edan Lepucki 5 44 Feb 08, 2016 04:36AM  
  • The Country of Ice Cream Star
  • Sweetness #9
  • After the Apocalypse
  • The Dead Lands
  • Immobility
  • Black Moon
  • The Flight of the Silvers (Silvers #1)
  • Questionable Practices: Stories
  • Gold Fame Citrus
  • Day One
  • Depth
  • The Great Glass Sea
  • Sherwood Nation
  • A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide to Saving the World
  • Blueprints of the Afterlife
  • World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)
  • Goodhouse
  • On Such a Full Sea
Edan Lepucki is the New York Times bestselling author of California, as well as the novella If You're Not Yet Like Me. Her next novel, Woman No. 17, will be published by Hogarth/Crown in May of 2017.

She is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and her short fiction and nonfiction have been published in McSweeney's, Narrative Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Yor

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • West of the Tularosa
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Love and Ruin
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Siddhartha
    $10.95 $2.99
  • The Orphan Daughter
    $4.99 $1.99
  • When We Were Worthy
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Somebody's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • A Night Divided
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition
    $24.95 $2.99
  • The Cherished Quilt
    $8.99 $2.99
  • To Find a Mountain
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I'll Be Your Blue Sky
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Lotterys Plus One
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Buddha
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Falls (P.S.)
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Broken Pieces
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Love Held Captive (A Lone Star Hero's Love Story)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Girl Who Came Home
    $11.99 $1.99
  • When Jesus Wept (The Jerusalem Chronicles, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Hired Man
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Crimes Against a Book Club
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Girls of the Great War
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Wish Me Home
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Every Tongue Got to Confess
    $10.24 $1.99
  • A Golden Age
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Serena
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Dreamland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Holy Fools
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Tampa
    $11.49 $1.99
  • The Beloved Hope Chest
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth Avenue Artists Society
    $11.99 $1.99
  • All That's Left of Me
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Palm Trees in the Snow
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Chemistry Lessons
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Last Flight of Poxl West: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Come Home to Me
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Year We Left Home
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Whip
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Written on the Body
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Broken Verses
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Happiness, Like Water
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Moo
    $6.24 $1.99
  • The Free
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Bookshop
    $9.99 $2.99
  • I Hate Everyone But You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • With Shuddering Fall
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Touching Spirit Bear (Spirit Bear, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • 223 Orchard Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • No One Is Coming to Save Us
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Small Great Things
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The Archer's Tale (The Grail Quest, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Journey's End (Gilded Promises)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Glittering Images (Starbridge, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dreaming in Cuban
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Hush (Just This Once, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Anywhere but Here (Vintage Contemporaries)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Sweet By and By
    $9.74 $1.99
  • George
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Hangman's Curse (Veritas Project, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
“Time moved forward, but the mind was restless and stubborn, and it skipped to wherever it pleased, often to the past: backward, always backward.” 14 likes
“Men were stupid to forget what good sleuths women could be.” 7 likes
More quotes…