I read this as part of the Lovereading Review Panel. Minor spoilers ahead.
I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction. There’s something deliciously awful about society disintegrating and humankind having to fight for survival. I probably love it because I know I’d be one of the first to die, if the water ran out or most of the women died or we developed a resistance to antibiotics, so I’d never have to deal with it. It’s why we love series like The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games; we, the people, love watching people suffer. But we also love the tidbits of hope and love found in these stories.
Gold, Fame, Citrus is a perfect example of a dystopian setting, with suffering and hope and horror and love in equal measure. The south-west of America has been transformed into a desert, buried by sand and desertion. Water is restricted, as is escape. But Luz and Ray don’t want to escape. They live amongst the chaos and despair, bringing their own with them, until Ig finds her way to them, and they steal away with her.
They soon, of course, run into trouble, and while Ray goes to find help, Luz and Ig are found by Levi, and his band of believers. It’s said he can find water, and Luz soon falls headfirst into his life. But Levi is a mirage, and carries a hidden danger for Luz and Ig.
Luz is the despair; Ray is the desert; Ig is the hope. The characters are fleshed out and brought fully to life. You find things to like and things to hate; if you aren’t a fan of children, Ig frustrates you, and you sympathise with Luz. If you’ve ever been scared enough to make the wrong decision, you understand Ray’s battle. And if you’ve ever had blind faith become clear enough to turn into doubt, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the desert.