Watkins' vision is profoundly terrifying. It's a novel that's effective precisely because it's so realistic — while Watkins' image of the future is undeniably dire, there's nothing about it that sounds implausible ... The prose in Gold Fame Citrus is stunningly beautiful, even when — especially when — Watkins is describing the badlands that Southern California has become ... It's an urgent, frequently merciless book, as unrelenting as it is brilliant. Watkins forces us to confront things we'd probably rather ignore, but because we're human, we can't.
Watkins is a master of tantalizing details, the unspoken tensions and disappointments of these lovers scraping around in the arid opulence of scorpion-infested bathrooms and empty swimming pools ... But the real genius of Gold Fame Citrus is its speculation about the isolated colonies that might survive in this aboveground hell. How might laggards, wanderers, fanatics and thieves coalesce? Once civilization decamps to the relatively moist East Coast? Watkins conjures the mythologies and mores that might sprout in such infertile soil.
...one of the most interesting aspects of Watkins’s novel is the way the mode of apocalypse she’s chosen seems to mirror some of the darker aspects of celebrity ... The plot that Watkins comes up with — a love triangle, a seemingly idyllic community with a creepy secret — does not always match the originality of her prose ... But if this book is sometimes frustrating, it’s also fascinating. A great pleasure of the book is Watkins’s fearlessness, particularly in giving her characters free rein to be themselves.