I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
As I mentioned in a previous entry about Emma Galvin's narration of this audiobook, Galvin's choices of WHICH words TO emphasize IN a sentence distracted me. At times, those choices undermined the intended meaning of a sentence. I seriously felt, at times, that she sounded like someone who had no comprehension of the English language and whose narration depended upon someone having written out the text for her via the International Phonetic Alphabet. To that, I will also add that she also places a pause in random parts of sentences. The most egregious example for me was when the character Frida recalls that people used to mistake her and her brother for twins because they communicated "like siblings." Then after a pause that lasted long enough for me to think, "They WERE siblings--just not twins," she added, "who had shared a womb."
Okay, now to the actual story. I wanted to like this. There were times when I mostly did. The story had potential and there were some interesting ideas woven into it, but the ideas were not well developed and ultimately didn't really go anywhere. I swear, by the time I reached the end, I seriously thought this must be book one of a trilogy, since NOTHING IS RESOLVED, but as far as I can tell, this is a stand-alone.
The book is set in the not-too-distant future. Maybe next Sunday, AD. Oh, wait, no, that's MST3K (where are Joel and the bots when I need them?). It's set around 2050 or so, not far from Los Angeles. We're in a vaguely post-apocalyptic period, after a series of developments, such as natural disasters, diminishing natural resources, the end of oil, homegrown terrorism, etc. have left a generalized breakdown of society. The rich have organized into gated communities, while the rest seem to be left to twist or be terrorized by pirates.
Two years before the opening of the narrative, Frida and Cal, a young married couple, left LA to live by themselves in the woods. They used to share an "estate" with another couple, Sandy and Bo, who had two young children. But one morning, Cal found them dead, apparently from poison. MYSTERY! Why did this couple, who had seemed so happy and hopeful and clearly loved their children give poison to their kids and to themselves? The answer? Way, way near the end of the book! So, Frida and Cal take over their house (having previously lived in Sandy and Bo's shed), and seem poised to continue living as they have been until... don-don-DON! Frida realizes she is "late" and therefore probably pregnant. Oh, noes. Now she feels the need to find a settlement to join.
They find a settlement not too far away! Won't bore you with the details of how they get there, but there is a surprising REVEAL about the guy who leads the settlement. Connection to Frida and Cal's pre-apocalypse life! Will this community accept them? Suspense! But not really. The settlement members call their settlement "The Land." This was distracting to me because it kept making me think of the Spackle in the Chaos Walking trilogy. There are more mysteries. Why are there no children in The Land? Would it be a really, really bad idea for Frida to reveal her pregnancy to her new friends? How would they react? What connection, if any, does The Land have to the gated Communities?
The book does raise some interesting questions about the lengths people will take to ensure their safety, as well as some troubling versions of "do the ends justify the means." I want to keep this review spoiler-free, so will leave out the specifics. But as I mention above, none of the interesting questions are actually resolved. What does pass for resolution has the main couple in a situation that is not exactly surprising, except I found myself thinking, "Why didn't they reach this conclusion sooner?" If you've read the book, I suspect you know what I mean.
There is a line in the book where Frida makes a derisive comment to Cal about their not being in "one of those books you used to read because you had no friends." Clearly a reference to our current generation of dystopian novels. I kind of wish I got to read one of those books Cal favored instead of this one. Maybe one with zombies.