Book Review: Golden State – Ben H. Winters

Golden State - Ben H. Winters

About The Book

Welcome to Golden State, where the worst crime you can commit is to lie.

Laz Ratesic is a veteran of the State’s special police. Those in power rely on Laz to discover the full and final truth.

But when a man falls from a roof in suspicious circumstances, it sets in motion a terrifying series of events which will shatter Laz’s world for ever.

Because when those in control of the truth decide to twist it, only those with the power to ask questions can fight back.

My Review

Laz Ratesic is a Speculator. He works for The Golden State, a future imagined California, where the truth is told, always. He can sense a lie, the air shimmers with it, so he speculates on what is the truth. He lives in the shadow of his brilliant brother Charlie who died whilst investigating a lie and he and his wife have recently separated. He is tall, broad and grizzly and is partnered with a trainee to the Speculator Service to investigate the death of a workman who has fallen from the roof of a building. What appears to be an open and shut case turns out to be much more and Laz finds himself deep in a wormhole and questioning all he believes.

This is a great dystopian novel with an interesting premise. The Golden State is under constant surveillance with cameras inside homes, on the street, in shops, bars and restaurants. The inhabitants carry Day Books where they record conversations with one another and stamp to verify that this is truth. Nothing is hidden, the truth is King and nobody lies, ever. Why would they? Telling a lie is punishable with exile to the world outside of The Golden State, a world which nobody knows about and is feared by all.

The world building in Golden State is excellent and just odd enough to knock me off kilter without it being very dark. It is accomplished, beautiful writing which took my breath away on occasions. There are passages about love, throwaway lines about the shorthand way couples communicate and philosophical musings that have lingered in my mind long after I finished reading it. Words are used to great effect (that may seem an obvious thing to say about a book but bear with me) as they are weighed so heavily in this imagined world. A question must be specific to receive a specific truthful answer and there is almost a new language and way of communicating meaning that every sentence and paragraph has been used to further build the claustrophobia of this world.

At its heart there are two mysteries. The seemingly small mystery of what happened to the workman and the larger mystery of what on earth happened before? What were the events that led to this world? It is ‘unknowable’ and is therefore off limits as a discussion point. Any books relating to the time before no longer exist with the only novels available being the ones which are written about heroes from the present time.

Golden State is a wholly readable book and I tore through it in a day and couldn’t put it down. It was right up my street and I loved the alternate reality that was built so carefully. If you are a fan of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or The Feed by Nick Clark Windo then this could be for you.

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to Netgalley and to the publishers Random House UK, Cornerstone for an advanced copy of The Golden State in return for an honest review. The Golden State is out in both ebook and hardcover on 24th January 2019.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Golden State – Ben H. Winters

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