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Golden State

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  5,958 ratings  ·  1,104 reviews
A shocking vision of our future that is one part Minority Report and one part Chinatown.

Lazlo Ratesic is 54, a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service, from a family of law enforcement and in a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else. This is how Laz must, by law, introduce himself, lest he fail to disclose his true purpose or nature, and by d
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Mulholland Books
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,958 ratings  ·  1,104 reviews

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What if the truth was built on lies?
Absolutely loved this book and I do love this writer who writes dark and thought provoking dystopian novels. 4.6 so five stars. I read some of the criticism on details of the storyline, but h*ll, loved it from start to finish. Weird and out of this world. Could this happen? As usual more to follow but I do recommend this out of the box book.

Welcome to Golden State, where the worst crime you can commit is to lie, in a world where everything is recorded and no o
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This book gave me 1984 and The Giver vibes with its dystopian world.

A world where truth is important and lying can get you exiled.

An interesting premise but a shorter format would have worked better for me.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ben H. Winters writes a thrilling dystopian novel with a central mystery that puts the protagonist on a challenging road that questions everything he has ever believed in. Golden State is a future version of California, a state where truth and objectivity is everything and to veer from this central tenet risks jail and exile. There is no past, no history, no documents, only what is. The concept of fiction no longer exists, and a novel is now understood to be a true history or truth, an interesti ...more
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can you handle the truth? I am asking you, Tom Cruise.

This dystopian-speculative-noir beauty will draw you in, and bring to mind classics of its ilk: 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. This book is set in an unknown time, in the state formerly known as California. Something of great import has happened to cause the government to protect its citizens by enforcing a society based on TRUTH, or, as they call it, "Objectively So".

Sounds okay, but it isn't. It's a militaristic, big-brother-esque world in which
Andrew Smith
It’s not clear when it happened or what happened, but it was BIG. Now nobody talks about it, in fact everything before has been erased: there are no documents, there is no known history. This new world, in the same place as the old world, has rules that preclude lots of things and knowledge of the past is one of them. But the biggest sin is to lie, to lie about anything. To disobey this edict can result in serious jail time.

The place is called the Golden State and it’s what used to be Californi
Feb 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Well, this book was a rollercoaster ride in terms of what rating I thought I would give it. It started out a solid 4 stars, with a decent possibility of a 5 as I went along. We then came to one of the most annoying tropes that could have possibly been picked, and it went down to 3 stars. Then something happened that I found clever and thought I may have to reread the book to see if I missed something and it went back to a 4. The book then tried to subvert expectations, undid the fairly clever th ...more
lark benobi
Let it be known that I loved this novel. It kept making me happier and happier. Instead of the cranky nihilism I've come to expect from dystopian novels, this novel instead evolves into a lovely fatalism. I loved that love wins, if in an extreme sort of way.

But what a pretzel of a book! At first it fooled me into thinking it was some kind of futuristic police procedural, and then a thriller, and then a story of conspiracy about the evil state…and then? Well. The novel just transforms itself int
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopia
“They say the real truth is that there is no such thing as truth at all, there’s only perception."

According to a 2002 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once. Even people who state that they never lie find they indeed do so, when recordings are played back to them. So what would a world without lies be like, a world where it is illegal to tell even so much as a little harmless white lie?

In Ben H. Wint
Dec 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
The BOTM picks are up!! This is not a drill.

They are up and I chose this one. This speculative fiction definitely sounds up my alley. I have been craving stories like this lately.
Blake Crouch
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Golden State is a prescient, devastating commentary on humanity's disintegrating attachment to reality and truth, expertly told through the prism of a police-procedural, dystopian nightmare. Winters has written a 1984 for the 21st century. Not just a thrilling book, but an important one. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, 2019
Sometimes a book sits with you to the point that you can’t stop thinking about it. Golden State won’t be for everyone, but it’s one of those books that leave the reader thinking. I like books that question reality and what reality means. In today’s world that’s more important than ever. With news being flung around at a frantic pace without fact-checking, we are susceptible to misinformation. This book imagines what it would be like if lying were against the law. Ben Winters crafts an intriguing ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This started out well enough but turned into a goddamn mess by the end.

Mr Laszlo Ratesic is a Speculator tasked with searching out liars. It's something more than just an instinct, he can feel the sickening nature equivocations, half truths, avoidances, and outright fabrications all around him. When a man falls to his death from the roof of a house, there seems like there may be more to the story than meets the eye, and with his fresh faced new parter in tow, he is drawn into the kind of conspi
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was really good! I’d never heard of this author before but was granted an ARC of this book from Netgalley. It is a commentary on truth- is there such a thing as absolute truth? Can it be determined through a society where everything is documented and recorded? Does everyone live by the same rules or are some exempt? How fear of the unknown can imprison us. Excellent read!
Joe Valdez
Nov 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
My introduction to the fiction of Ben H. Winters is Golden State. On one hand, I picked this up at the library after many novels ahead of it on my reading docket weren't available and neither were titles by Winters that sounded more compelling: The Last Policeman and Underground Airlines. On the other hand, that means I opened it with zero expectations. I gave Winters five chapters and 60 pages before abandoning this. I've quit more novels lately than I'd like to, but this one is the dullest, la ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm always a BIG fan of science fiction that girds its loins in the heaviest armor and strides boldly into the darkest, most complicated territories. The more ambitious the novel, the more props I am absolutely forced to give it. :) Of course, it has to also blow me away, but the core courage and not just good writing has to shine through for me to WOOOOOOOO!!!! ;)

It's easy enough to say this is a panopticon where every last bit of our modern lives in this future Utopian California resembles 198
Liz Barnsley
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m the BIGGEST fan of The Last Policeman trilogy so to say I was excited to read “Golden State” would be a serious understatement.
It didn’t disappoint- this is a hugely relevant speculative tale, but also a massively entertaining piece of fiction that had me banging through it in record time…
Laz is brilliant, so engaging, living in the shadow of his legendary brother, one of the few people tasked with keeping the record quite literally straight as he senses lies in the air around him.
The world
This was a strange book that progressively got more strange as I got closer to the end. This is a dystopian novel about a futuristic California where there are police who detect lies, and lying causes you to go to prison (or even worse, face execution.) I’m not a huge fan of dystopians but this one sounded interesting, and it is very similar to Fahrenheit 451 as the description claims.

I was really invested in the beginning of this story, it’s very thought provoking and it has a lot to say about
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

Another great read by science fiction novelist Ben H. Winters. This had all the elements of a dystopian novel, fear and hope under new systems of belief and justice and the establishment of a new normal. With hints of 1984 and a touch of supernatural, main protagonist Lazlo Ratesic can sniff out a lie in a noisy and crowded café, and lies are just not on in the Golden State.

As far as mystery’s go, this one had me guessing all the way with its current story arc and the flashbacks to Lazlo
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"They are librarians, and they do not fuck around." This is one of my favorite lines in this novel. I'll leave out the context so I don't spoil it for you, but I will say that everyone's permanent record is taken very seriously in this tale.

I liked this novel very much. It had enough twists and turns to keep my interest. Toward the end, it was a real page turner. It was a thoughtful dystopian tale with lots of layers. In reality, all of us buy into the world order we are sold and anyone going ro
Emily B
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t not enjoy this book very much at all which was disappointing.

It didn’t make enough sense and not enough was explained. It was hard to follow at times. I’m still not sure how it all connects and even why some characters were present and what exactly they added to the plot. It all felt like a bit of a mess
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
It's just such a delicious writerly challenge. You envision some future world - a seemingly benign surveillance state where everything is on video, where everyone records the facts of their days and lives entirely by truth. Where lies are punishable by law and enforced by Speculators that can sense lies in the very air. Where even fiction is banned and TV shows are just curated recordings of actual surveilled events. Now, how does one get away with murder in this world?

And there is this joyful s
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have made the call - Ben H. Winters is the Philip K. Dick of our generation. The way he expands an idea into a novel (in Golden State - an alternate/future California ruled by absolute truth) and the flawed characters that you root for anyway, but also that sense of maybe the ending could have been stronger. Winters redeemed the messy ending for me with clever and funny moments throughout. This was another read from the Tournament of Books and I listened in Audible.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel is shortlisted for the 2020 ToB.

4,5 Stars!

The Golden State is a state in which everything is recorded and when I say everything, I literally mean everything. Devices called “captures” are installed everywhere you could possibly imagine. On a ceiling fan, on a fridge. Outside on trees, street signs. They are everywhere and they record everything.

However, these devices are not the only means of recording. Every citizen of the Golden State keeps a record of everything they do through th
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Was this great literature? No way. Was it exceedingly entertaining and readable? Heck yeah! Meant to be a social commentary on our current state of willful deception by politicians, influencers, and the media, this is set in a dystopian society where lies are the ultimate crime. Unfortunately, this means that anything in the official record is accepted as truth. The main character was great, but the book didn’t quite deliver in the end.
Bridget Jack Jeffries
I can’t even with the terribleness that was this book. This is what really bad 1984 / Fahrenheit 451 fan fiction looks like. This book was a hot mess, the Lindsay Lohan of sci-fi books.

The Golden State is about a dystopian society, established somewhere in California, centered around belief in the Objectively So. This society is dependent on members of the Speculative Service, a police-like force whose members have a sixth sense for detecting lies. That they actually have this power is demonstr
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5, rounded up.

I'm not quite sure why I didn't cotton to this more than I did - it should have been right up my alley, but I was left more or less ambivalent. It took me an absurdly long time to get into it (three days to get through the first 70 pages), but then it picked up, and I found myself reading it quickly, but more just to get done with it than with any real enthusiasm. It's kind of a strange amalgamation of J G Ballard/Philip K. Dick rewriting the noir detective fiction of Cain/Hamme
Lisa Wolf
Golden State is a weird mind-f*ck of a novel, and that's what makes it so wonderful. In a society where adherence to the Objectively So is the primary goal, the crime of telling a lie can lead to lengthy imprisonment or even exile, a fate assumed to be equivalent to death. Law enforcement agents like Lazlo can feel when a lie has been told, and their ability to sense anomalies leads them in pursuit of those who attempt to subvert the State with their untruths. People greet each other on the stre ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. As I reading this my mind kept thinking - what rating will I give it! A solid 4 stars? A bit higher? Lower? Because as I was reading it my opinion kept bouncing around. I loved it. I hated it. It made me mad. It confused me, and then it sort of all made sense.

I am long time fan of the classic Twilight Zone series and I really felt like all this needed was a Rod Serling intro and it could sit nicely with some of the mind bending favorites of the series.

Golden State is Golden because it is t
Cindy Burnett
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Golden State takes place in a futuristic society that values truth above all else. Both the title of the book and the locale bear the name Golden State, a nation that occupies portions of present-day California. Golden State is a closed place created when the spreading of lies became so widespread that the former society could no longer exist. In this new world, truth is valued above all else to the point that citizens are under constant surveillance, much of their lives are recorded, and those ...more
Scott Rhee
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“There’s no such thing anymore, unfortunately, as facts.” --- Scottie Nell Hughes

And so it happened, in the year 2016, that the End of Truth came about in the land once called the United States of America, and chaos reigned supreme throughout the land. It was a time of confusion and upheaval. When the smoke finally cleared, the survivors were left with no sense of what was True. There were no Facts to keep them grounded. Everything was adrift.

Then, in the land of the west, in a state once called
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Tournament of Books: Golden State 57 161 Feb 19, 2020 12:25PM  
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