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The Golden State

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

I stepped outside of my reading comfort zone and added a dystopian book to my March #bookstack.  I have read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, but other than those, I have not ventured into this genre often.  Because of this, I added Golden State by Ben Winters to my TBR list.  Golden State was recently a Book of the Month Pick and I have seen it hyped on #bookstagram.  The premise drew me in because it mimics a typically detective novel.  The book is set in what was once California, hence Golden State, and is set in a futuristic time where [something] has happened to the United States, though you never find out what actually happened.  In the Golden State, the ultimate crime that anyone can commit is lying.  There is the Speculative Service, similar to a law enforcement group, and their responsibility is to defend the truth and prosecute anyone who lies.  Laszlo Ratesic is a Speculator and he becomes involved in a mysterious case and must unravel the truths and lies.

The book is broken into three parts.  I felt like the first part was slower moving and I had a hard time sticking with it.  The second part picks up the pace more and held my attention more.  Overall, I rated the book ★★★ .5/5.

The concept of trusting and finding comfort in truth was very thought provoking.  The Golden State society relies on the truth and lies throw off the balance.  Anyone who is prosecuted of the highest crimes, is exiled from the Golden State, meaning they are driven to the outskirts of town and left, essentially for dead.  The concept of there being a higher society that is able to sense lies and punish even a minor lie as a heinous crime is really scary.  And it also prevents innocent lies, things that we normally do not consider as lies, such as reading a fiction novel or using your imagination and speculating the truth.  The concept is actually pretty frightening.

Dystopia books transport you to a different world with a dark, oppressive government.  They are meant to be thought provoking.  Golden State was no different and concepts of the book stay with you after you are finished.  Overall, it was worth reading.  The story flowed like a traditional detective novel and the uniqueness of the dystopian world added to the story.  Some parts were hard to follow, but once the investigation progressed in the second half, the book flowed much better.  The main character is hard to love, but that is generally how it goes with detective novels.  The ending was interesting, I have seen mixed reviews.  I am still processing my thoughts on it.  I won't give any spoilers, but I will let you decide what you think.

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