Califia’s Daughters

Califia’s Daughters is one of my favourite books of all time.  It has three things that always attract my attention in a book; dystopian future, a fresh new concept and the potential for some kick-ass female characters.

Califia’s Daughters by Leigh Richards was published in 2004 and certainly hasn’t gotten the attention I think it deserves.  It rivals any solid dystopian story out there and considering that most dystopian stories seem to be in the young adult section (I remember being melancholy as a teenager but is it really that bad now?) it is nice that this one was written for adults.

The story takes place in a future where a virus has wiped out most of the male population of the world.  It is up to the women to rule, survive, and protect their own.  So you see what I am saying about the potential for kick-ass women characters?  This story is rife with them.

Especially one.

Dian is the main character and she is fierce but vulnerable (I want to be her).  She is the warrior in her group of women, trusted with protecting their homestead and their men from other groups of scavenging women.  It is such a fascinating role reversal.  The men can’t fight lest they be killed and considering there is one man to every 8 or 10 women in this story, every man alive counts towards their future survival in continuing their blood lines.

You will follow Dian as she makes the hard decision to go after and rescue Robin, a man – her friend – who is taken captive by a group of women known as the Black Angels.  You remain by her side as she navigates the hostile city where Queen Bess rules, all in the hopes of bringing Robin home.

This story mixes combat, relationships, philosophy and emotions so well that you will be unable to set the book down once you dig in.  No character (male or female) is wasted in this tense drama, in particular Dian’s right hand ally; Tomas, her dog.  Already my bottom lip is quivering as I recall the beautifully written relationship between a woman warrior and her warrior dog.  It is fierce, tragic, loving and spiritual.

The book also raises your typical dystopian, fight for survival type questions.  Would you embrace others into your already established community?  How trusting would you be of others in a world where almost everyone carries a weapon?  This story also reminds us of the care we must take in our present moment.  Many Native Americans believe that our actions today will affect seven generations into the future so when we live we must do so with respect and mindfulness to tomorrow.  In Califia’s Daughters, strangers come to Dian’s community with the news that nuclear waste has been released into their rivers and is poisoning their village which is why they are on the move.  It is from the past that this threat comes, the past that was filled with war, a war that allowed the virus to be released, a virus that killed most of the world’s men.  Ripples in the pond.

Ultimately, what I took from this book was that it is our humanity and our love for one another that will enable us to keep hoping and move forward.  That our chances of survival are greatly increased when we work together, not apart.

Also, I need to learn me some bow and arrow skills.

My rating:

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About Geeky Book Snob

Learning stuff since birth. Happy introvert who likes socializing when she's not busy being an introvert who likes to read.

Posted on October 11, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Because you don’t mention it, I want to be sure you know: Leigh Richards is a pen name of Laurie R. King, a mystery novelist. The mysteries are very different from Califia’s Daughters, so they may not be to your taste — though the do feature fabulous female characters and are very enjoyable in their own way.

    Now, I must find what I did with my copy of this book. I think it’s time for a re-read.

    • Yes I did know, thanks! And no, mystery is not really captivating for me which is why I haven’t read her other books (however, you do have me a little intrigued by the fabulous female characters). I just re-read Califia’s Daughters a few weeks ago hence this post. Worth the re-read, that’s for sure.

  1. Pingback: 5 Book Heroines that are Awesome Sauce | Geeky Book Snob

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