tee's Reviews > Citrus County

Citrus County by John Brandon
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Aug 17, 11

bookshelves: oriana-is-my-book-muse, i-own, favourites
Read from August 13 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy

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 him; maybe not what he did per se but those awkward, confusing, often hellish years of adolescence where you're still figuring out right and wrong, discovering what your morals are and where your boundaries lie. Those times where you did really fucking stupid things (perhaps not stealing a kid) but still, stupid things that in hindsight makes you uneasy to think you ever did it. Or, too, those things that we've contemplated doing but never acted upon. Toby kidnaps a child, Mr Hibma contemplates killing a co-worker (view spoiler) This novel is about that too. For me, anyway. I've always been fascinated with the concept that we're all merely a decision away from committing a crime. Self-control, morals, law and order. We hold our destiny in the fist of our hand.

Brandon weaves these emotions into his book and you never see any of it coming, depression, uncertainty, fear, regret it's all there -knitted into his words. This is "show don't tell" at its finest. The stolen girl doesn't even get a voice or a face and almost in the absence of her that we sense how terrifying and horrific it all really is. By giving us few details about her, her state of mind, or living conditions, each fucked up detail is left to our imagination. And because my imagination knows no bounds, I was overcome with tension and grief for most of the novel. Brandon also manages to set everything up with such deftness that everything that happens feels natural. He's listened to his characters and simply voiced their story.

And as much as I might be able to identify with the protagonist, I was still left thinking how the fuck could anybody do something like that? but Brandon delivers everything in such a way that nothing is unfathomable. We understand the characters. We live inside them, or beside them, for the duration of the book; in a detached way. I almost felt like I was drifting ghost-like whilst tailing them around as they circled each other through the book.

I don't know whether it is because I am a parent that I was quite unsettled throughout. Having two small children of my own certainly added to the anxiety that I felt reading this book. I rarely get emotionally involved in my novels, not to the extent that I did with this one; my cheeks were actually burning and my hands clammy as I waited to see what the outcome was going to be. And yet, no furore, no pyrotechnics, just bleakness, apathy and grey.

Brandon is a fucking terrific writer. I know I've read something great when I close the book once I've finished and feel a mixture of sadness that it's finished, a glow from having just read a really good book and envy that I hadn't written it myself.
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