While I’m working on a project, I don’t like to read YA books. I feel like it plays with my voice and character development too much. So, I’ve been staying away from that for a bit, while diving into some the new fiction out there, such as CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki, and THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell.
I was drawn to the cover of Lepucki’s book first off. Can a cover really influence what you think about the book? I say it can. The sideways trees here were a bit deceiving at first; I didn’t really know what I was looking at until I turned the book (and then it was obvious, I know). But the sideways photo isn’t just a gimick to get people to pick up the book. It represents the bizarre way of life taking place in this book.
It’s the first post-apocalyptic/dystopian adult read for me, and while I’ve read my fair share of YA and have become slightly tired of it, this was a fresh and interesting take on the idea of the breakdown of society. We never really learn why everything went off the rails, although we must assume it is a result of our own doing (environmental issues etc.). Instead, we are thrown right into the lives of Cal and Frida who have been living in a shed away from society for several years.
It’s a difficult life, but one that both seem to have adpated to over time. Except now there’s a problem—Frida becomes pregnant, and suddenly, there is a desperation in their lives not present before. Couple this with the fact that they discover an even more shocking secret only a few miles away, and the book is frought with tension.
I really enjoyed the pace of this book. It dealt with the hardships of the life, and the current world problems in ways that were very different than most YA distopian fiction. There weren’t battles and chases and explosions and people running for their lives, but the tension built throughout the book deeper than most YA fiction in this style. I loved Lepucki’s subtle insight into both characters as she worked back and forth between each character, and their reactions to the sudden changes in their lives. It was all about them, not about their surroundings and the world trying to hurt them—it was more about how they reacted to the world based on their separate histories.
I’m sure I’ll be thinking about this book for a while, and I hope some of the subtleties rub off in my own writing.
Now, on to THE BONE CLOCKS, and I must say…it grabbed me in the first sentence! VOICE!!!!! So, if you haven’t read anything other than YA in a while, get out there and grab up a book….any book, and see what it’ll do for your writing!