Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
If you are active on the bookstagram community, you have most likely seen a lot of pictures of “Golden State” by Ben H. Winters. It was one of the January Book of the Month picks, and has been receiving a lot of buzz from the book community. I cannot even remember the last time I read a dystopian novel, and I was very excited to receive an ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada in the mail last month to read and review!
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 doing so, be guilty of a lie.
Laz is a resident of The Golden State, a nation resembling California, where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life, and governance, increasingly impossible. There, surrounded by the high walls of compulsory truth-telling, knowingly contradicting the truth–the Objectively So–is the greatest possible crime. Stopping those crimes, punishing them, is Laz’s job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths–to “speculate” on what might have happened in the commission of a crime.
But the Golden State is far less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the Objectively So requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance, recording, and record-keeping. And when those in control of the truth twist it for nefarious means, the Speculators may be the only ones with the power to fight back.
I’m a truly at a loss for words, and not in a good or bad way.
This book started off extremely strong. Laszlo, a man who has the power to detect when another human was lying, starts to work with a black female cop to try and solve the mystery of a man who fell off a roof and died. From there, some strange things happen to him that make him question his life and the society he lives in. While that may seem simple, this book was incredibly, incredibly complex. At some points in the book I was fully invested and enthralled in this story, while at other points I was so confused and had absolutely no clue as to what was going on. Although, I feel like those points of confusion and questioning were supposed to happen. By the end of the book, I was left with more questions than I began with.
The concept of the novel was phenomenal and definitely ranks among the most unique dystopian books I have EVER read. Novels that include an element of eliminating fiction or other aspects of life that are very common in our world and society (lies, money, power, etc.) are things that I love to read about in novels since they make me think so much about the world and the way we live every day. I also loved the 1984 vibe I felt from this novel, since the parts I enjoyed in 1984 were somewhat present in new ways in this novel.
The characters in this novel were phenomenal and written wonderfully. I loved reading about all of them, and felt especially connected to Lazslo. His emotions and the way he spoke felt so real to me as I was reading it, and I believe only the best authors can write very well read, believable characters. I also formed quite a liking to Charlie, although he was only a minor major part in the story (does that make sense…?).
Like I previously shared, I loved the setting of this story. So much of the novel is dedicated strictly to world-building and trying to make readers understand the complexity and rigidness of their dystopian world. No matter what part of the story I was reading about, I could always clearly visualize the space they were in, even if Ben had only described it in a few sentences. The way he described the main setting was absolutely incredible, and made the story that much richer.
Overall, I gave “Golden State” by Ben H. Winters a 3.75/5 stars. I highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy adult dystopian and sci-fi.
Thanks again to Hachette Book Group Canada for an ARC of this book! Make sure to pick up your copy in a book store near you TODAY!
Good Night Book Owls!