Citrus County
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Citrus County

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,390 ratings  ·  262 reviews
"There shouldn't be a Citrus County. Teenage romance should be difficult, but not this difficult. Boys like Toby should cause trouble but not this much. The moon should glow gently over children safe in their beds. Uncles in their rockers should be kind. Teachers should guide and inspire. Manatees should laze and palm trees sway and snakes keep to their shady spots under t...more
ebook, 311 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by McSweeney's Books (first published July 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,637)
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karen
i blink and suddenly i have read two of the buzz books of the summer!

this one i have mike to thank for - i would have just bought it (like i did the author's first book) with good intentions, and it would have sat around until lord knows when, but his review made me read the first three pages right there at work and say - "oh, yes, i will read this soon". and look at me following through!

this man writes just the way i like - he has a story to tell and he tells it, with very few literary pyrotec...more
Mariel
Sep 10, 2011 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Citrus County, lock up your little girls
Recommended to Mariel by: Florida swamps that have forgotten their fireflies
I wish that I had read the same book that other members on goodreads read. I don't come from this place. I don't live in Citrus County. I want to live different places, know different people. I want to tell myself about stuff that happened and people that the things happened to. It doesn't have to be a mantra, maybe a sign of life or a reminder to feel something I'd forgotten. I want to sing along, you know? Some company would be really nice. I find that I can let myself go if I'm not the only o...more
Krok Zero
The good kind of contradiction: I would have gladly read an additional 500 pages about Toby and Shelby, the troubled co-protagonists of Citrus County, yet I recognize that John Brandon's concision -- the book clocking in at just over 200 pages -- was the right choice for the story.

This is a great novel, the best new one I've read this year. So much love for this book. I wish I'd purchased it so I could spew lovely quotations at you, but this was a bookstore-loitering read. Don't judge me. I have...more
Adam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
oriana
Oh. God. So. Good. I love love John Brandon anyway, back from the painfully spectacular Arkansas, and this one gives you that same sinking feeling in your stomach once you get into it, once you know that there is just no way this will get better or go well. Toby and Shelby, the main characters in this one, are just amazing and so so real. (I hope I never get too old to ache and squirm when I read about teenagers falling messily and awkwardly and terribly for one another.) John Brandon's writing...more
Kathrina
There is very good writing here, but no soul. The writing is clinical, all white walls and and the smell of antiseptic cleaner in the air; The characters are drawn with gloves on. I kept reading because that is how one gets to the end, but my heart was in the other room. There was excellent dialogue that belonged to some other book, and was dropped in this plot by a negligent editor. Who takes a class in marine biology in eighth grade? Psychology? In eighth grade? What eighth grader has the guts...more
Matthew Allard
117. That's the page where I am going to stop and put this book to rest. It's a painful mental burden to stop a book midway, but I'm so slumped by this. 2. That's the number of stars I'm applying. I'd give it half that, but it gets an extra since I, admittedly, didn't read to the last page. (As if my system of rating things has ever been scientific or systematic.)

Bah. A lot of people liked this book. (The NYT Book Review gave it some high praise, for example.) Others, like me, did not/could not...more
Lee
A generous three stars, more like 2.5 for me. An admirable short novel that seemed to do what it wanted to do just fine, I guess. Mid-level misanthrophy. One minor LOL for me re: the girls basketball team. Occasionally precious A+ "creative writing 101" descriptions ("she smelled like freckles"). Felt like an overextended short story? Monotextured (<-- that's a really wonky way of saying it maintains a similar tone/pace/approach throughout). A "terse novella" maybe would have worked better? S...more
Jamie
With John Brandon, get ready to spend time with criminals. But get ready too, to strip away everything that defines them as criminals, to write in everything that makes them whole, interesting, broken, fun, doomed, ordinary, earnest, cruel, largehearted people. No one gets written off, no one gets cut any slack. We spend time in the woods and get just what was promised: the subversion of expectations, the wild incongruities of humanity, the cigarette before the firing squad shoots you down. It’s...more
Melanie
Not since Scott Spencer’s ‘Endless Love’, have I been so conflicted about a novel. Is Citrus County fatally flawed or have I failed as a reader? I really don’t know, so I’ll just hit on a few things:

John Brandon is the heart breaker with the bottom line; his characters know more than they possibly could. There are sentences so perfect and wise that they leap out as not belonging to these characters at all. Was that a bit surreal? Sure, but it worked for me.

The writing is off-beat, really allurin...more
g
I got to page 32 and was so shocked and horrified by the contents of that single page that I skimmed the remaining 170 or so pages to see if the novel was worth pursuing. The answer? Um, no. Why on earth did we have to go there? I was sort of warming up to this, thinking that maybe I'd wrongly stereotyped McSweeney's fiction catalog in the past. I even LOLed at several of Mr. Hibma's antics and found him a sort of an edgier, funnier, male counterpart to Bynum's wonderful Ms. Hempel. I thought th...more
Caitlin Constantine
I've written before in reviews that I usually do not find most "comic" novels to be very comic. I feel bad admitting this, like it is somehow indicative of some sourpuss-type personality, or like it means I am deficient in the humor category, but the truth is, I just don't find books that try to be funny to be all that funny. A book that makes me actually laugh out loud is GOLD.

Which is why I am pleased to say that I laughed multiple times while reading this book, and almost always at Mr. Hibma,...more
Megan
I somewhat feel like the 3 star rating is generous, because the book is full of unforgivable characters, including a main character who does something REALLY terrible but then the act is almost glossed over. He does this bad thing then focuses on his 8th grade love life. It is all very unsettling. But on the other hand, I somewhat feel like the 3 stars are unfair because despite the unlikable characters and dark subject matter, I found myself unable to put it down. I also found the characters ve...more
tee
I'm hovering between four and five stars for this one but after some initial hesitation, it just has to be a five. I loved it, not in the same way that I have loved other books that I have rated five star but it was amazing in its own way. Brandon's writing style is fantastic, one of those books where you're unaware that you're reading; the story merely unfolds in front of you. Most unnerving about the book was the protagonist and his callous actions but somehow at the same time, you understood...more
Talani
People who are depressed do TERRIBLE things. They have no connection to reality and know nothing of the pain they are inflicting on others. It was hard for me to get into this book because the things the main character did were just so awful. Eventually I did exactly what the author wanted me to do, I stopped paying attention to the details/action and just became a passive reader; accepting what was going on so that I could spend a few more pages in the mind of two total whack jobs.

Telling you a...more
Owen Curtsinger
Brandon weaves a chilling suspense tale that is totally devoid of any stereotypical one-dimensional suspense characters. What we have instead is a group of people who are as deeply layered and complicated as real-life people, each with their own fears and just-slightly-twisted obsessions that make them seem so close to reality that we could speak to them or hug them...not that we would want to. The book follows the life of the perpetrator so closely that there's no room for edge-of-your-seat mys...more
Elizabeth
Jul 16, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the smart kids who could of ended up lost
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Powell's staff picks
Shelves: 2011
This book sits on a shelf smirking. You might need to brush up on your vocabulary too before reading it. It would be hard to describe the plot of this book except in a very exoskeleton type way, weird shit happens that is unexpected and it should not be described beforehand.

It takes place in a northern part of Florida, there are middle schoolers, Iceland and wayward teachers involved. A lot of smart people seem to be sporting not only a bad attitude but a fatalistic one. That this is set in Flo...more
Edan
Many passages in this book were quite beautiful, and I was interested in how little we saw of the crime in the novel, around which everything revolves. That was pretty cool.

My main trouble with Brandon's novel is the characterization. It felt like these characters were made up of a series of arbitrary quirks. Shelby is into Jewish comics. Mr. Hibma (kept at a distance with his teacher-title throughout the book) gives his students posters of old movies. And? So what? When I described this charact...more
Miriam
2.5 stars actually; I didn't quite like it, but I think it was better than ok. I think I might really have liked it - as a short story. As a novel though, even a relatively slim one, I couldn't find enough in the characters or plot developments to much care and it felt repetitive. The novel consists of usually short chapters alternating 3rd person perspectives between 3 characters: Shelby, Toby, and Mr. Hibma, and after a few cycles their rather angsty musings not only sounded too much like that...more
Matthew
After reading the review and excerpt of CC in the NYTimes this weekend, I ordered the book, got it last night via UPS, and finished it by morning. I never do that. Okay, I do, but it's exceedingly rare. The whole time I was thinking, yes, yes, yes, this is what a novel is supposed to do. I didn't want to skip paragraphs. I noticed zero things I would've wanted done differently, or better. I didn't think, jeez, that's strains believability. I was just along for the ride, thankful to hear someone...more
Jamie Allen
It feels really stupid to put stars next to this one. Hmm, let me take a personal inventory: Close your eyes. Think about the book. Think of how it made you feel. Now translate that to stars? I don't feel stars. I feel like my insides have been chafed. I finished it last night after midnight. Had pretty good dreams. Woke up still raw on the inside the moment I thought about the book.

Also, the author, John Brandon clearly did EXACTLY what he wanted to do. Every paragraph, every sentence, every wo...more
Laura
I rarely give a book a one star rating because I rarely finish those books. This I was forced to finish in order to turn in an assignment on time. I found this book deeply disturbing. A lot like walking into Columbine in the head of the gunman. It just felt like a train wreck and the resolution was very unsatisfying.

Toby and Shelby are two teens whose lives seem to be revolving around a disaster course. Toby is a hardened delinquent who plans and commits a horrifying crime. Shelby is a teenage...more
Amanda
Citrus County is at once a coming-of-age story, a crime thriller, and a
romance. Set in swampy interior Florida, the eponymous county is home to
some of the best characters I've met in a long time: Toby, a sullen
eighth-grade loner wrestling with his compulsion to violence and a
nascent, confusing optimism; Shelby, whip-smart but no kiss-ass with the
verve to tell Toby "You could kiss me sometime if you wanted;" and Mr.
Hibma, their geography teacher who fantasizes about smothering the English
teacher....more
Hilary
Very dark - the plot centers around the kidnapping of a young girl, and all of the characters amongst whom the story's perspective shifts have some serious flaws. Yet they all feel redeemed, somehow, in the end - while reading, I wouldn't have thought that possible, but Brandon manages to end the book in a way I found both satisfactory and relatively optimistic. A book that asks you to extend any sympathy whatsoever to the kidnapper himself is certainly going to rub some readers the wrong way, r...more
stacy
Jan 01, 2012 stacy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to stacy by: Constance
my first book of 2012. pretty freakin awesome.

i really enjoyed it. four stars. no more. no less. i think that when people read it, they will hate it or love it. i loved it.

i am terrible at reviews so i will paste here from the nyt review why i loved it:

He subverts the expectations of an adolescent novel by staying true to the wild incongruities of adolescence, and subverts the expectations of a crime novel by giving us people who are more than criminals and victims. The result is a great story i...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
This is the page-turner everyone says it is. Imagine a Patricia Highsmith novel where the author feels some real sympathy for the characters -- I know that may be impossible to do. Brandon dissects the setting, nailing the worn-out feel of a suburb that seems to have lost any connection to a larger city, where convenience stores are the most viable businesses, strip malls are mostly shuttered, development projects abandoned, and the planned opening of a jazz club is aptly described by one of his...more
Laraemilie

Citrus County, Floride : une petite ville sale et perdue ; des habitants en quête de leur identité, arrivés là par un malencontreux hasard. Dès les premières pages, nous découvrons cet endroit sombre, qui semble coupé du reste du monde. Une atmosphère lugubre y règne et il n’est pas difficile de comprendre la dépression qui habite les personnages.
Tout d’abord, il y a M. Hibma, le professeur qui n’aime pas son métier et qui est tout le contraire du bon exemple à donner aux élèves. Dans sa classe,...more
Alex V.
I'm nearly done with John Brandon's Citrus Country but I feel safe in singing its praises, especially its horrific premise so artfully muted to a background murmur that you forget you are thoughtlessly, even happily galumphing alongside a total sociopath. Brandon stirs a pot of savory moral relativism simmering atop the low, sky-blue flame of the gas range of contemporary disaffection (the preferred kitchen setup of most McSweeney's books) and I'ma lick that spoon when he's done.
Al
Teenage noir, but not for me. You can't expect thirteen year olds to think and act, even when they're dysfunctional, like adults. Nobody can get as alienated as these kids are and still maintain a semblance of normal behavior, much less act out effectively their nihilistic impulses. I'm sorry I finished this book; at least it was short.
Rayroy
Too long, would of been better as a short storty. Takes place in Citrus County, Florida a County so unworthy of anything exciting that hurricans never even hit it. The people in the story feel traped in Citrus County and do almost unthinkable things out of boredom and desperation. Umm Tacos!
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938447
Although John Brandon is an MFA graduate of the writing program at Washington University in St. Louis, while drafting the novel Arkansas, he "worked at a lumber mill, a windshield warehouse, a Coca-Cola distributor, and several small factories producing goods made of rubber and plastic." In his spare time, he obsesses over Florida Gators football.
More about John Brandon...
Arkansas A Million Heavens Further Joy Unchained (The story of Mike Star and Alice in Chains) Blood Feud

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“In middle school, he reminded them, ugly girls are intimidated by pretty girls. Hell, it was this way with adult women. A team could gain advantage by keeping tan and having their nails done.” 3 likes
“[he] had learned how to force his mood, to keep himself in the middle ground, neither manic nor hopeless. He seemed a bit lighter in spirit, perhaps because he had less of it. He would find peace, even if it were some compromised brand.” 2 likes
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