An acclaimed "5 Under 35" fiction writer's much-anticipated first novel
In 2012 Claire Vaye Watkins' story collection, Battleborn, swept nearly every award for short fiction. Now this young writer, widely heralded as a once-in-a-generation talent, returns with a first novel that will more than meet listeners' hopes, harnessing the sweeping vision and deep heart that made her debut so arresting to a love story set in a devastatingly imagined near future.
In a parched Southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country's conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet's abandoned mansion. Most "Mojavs", prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.
For the moment, the couple's fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins. Heading east, they are waylaid in the desert by a charming and manipulative dowser - a diviner for water - and his cultlike followers, who have formed a colony in a mysterious sea of dunes.
Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins' novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.
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A Tough Look at a Not-too-Distant Future
I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, but I think that comes from how complicated the female protagonist is. Luz is a broken as a person can possibly be, but continues to find the strength to carry on. As her choices, and often mistakes, continue to affect all those on her journey with her, you will fluctuate between hope and despair. In a not-too-distant future world where the earth has used up it's resources and the horizon looks bleak, there is not much that is uplifting about this novel. But it's honest, brutally honest. I was immersed in it from beginning to end and upon finishing the book, have only been looking for someone to talk to about it.
- Ashley Ann
narrator ruined it
- Maximilian Smith