Harper Teen - YA/Sci-Fi
In a split second, everyone aged 15 and over disappears from Perdido Beach, a small town in California. Everyone. Teachers, parents, older siblings -- all gone. Along with their disappearance go the phones, internet and television. The electricity remains. But, where should the youngsters go and how will they survive? As it becomes plain that there's a barricade blocking them from the world outside, food begins to dwindle, dangerous mutated creatures appear and bullies arrive from the private school up the hill.
In addition to all these strange occurrences, some of the remaining youngsters have developed powers--and they're growing stronger. But, the bullies know about these unusual new powers and they're determined not to let anyone overcome their stranglehold on the town. What will become of the young survivors in Perdido Beach? What is the FAYZ and how might it be related to the local nuclear power plant? And, what is that strange, dome-like barricade over their town?
There are a few things I consider spoilers in Gone, so my review may be a tiny bit vague. What I really loved about Gone the most was that it's pure escapist reading and I was in need of a mental break, so a little escapist sci-fi was perfect for the moment.
Sam, the protagonist, is a natural-born hero. Some of his peers and a lot of the younger children look up to him because he's known to have saved a bus full of students when the driver had a heart attack. But, on a daily basis, he's really rather timid and unsure of himself. He doesn't desire to be their leader and he's worried about the dangerous power he developed in the months leading up to the disappearance of the adults. As the situation degenerates, though, Sam finds that he really needs to step up to the plate.
Astrid, who is nicknamed "Astrid the Genius" because of her intelligence, becomes Sam's closest companion and greatest encouragement. But, she has problems of her own. Her young brother is autistic and it takes a lot of energy to deal with his needs.
Caine is the leader of the bullies from the private school. He has a power complex and is determined to take over the town. But, what is his goal and who is he willing to sacrifice to get what he wants?
The bottom line:
An exciting, adventurous, scary novel that combines a Stephen King-like world of fresh horror with the animalistic infighting of Lord of the Flies, definitely recommended but not for the faint of heart.
Technically, I am the faint of heart. There were times I was unsure I really wanted to continue reading. Having experienced the horror of post-Katrina Mississippi and the fighting over limited resources (which really wasn't necessary, especially early on, but still occurred because people naturally panic in times of crisis), I know how real that type of behavior can be. It's disturbing! But, I kept going because the story is a good one. The author kept flinging out new surprises and I never really quite knew how Sam was going to react. I have the second book in this series, Hunger, and I've been restraining myself from reading it because I tend to like series books better if I stretch them out. But, I might give in, soon.
I particularly thought the character development was excellent. Sam and Astrid are likable, as are most of the people who end up working with them to protect the innocent from the dangerous bullies. Caine and his sociopathic sidekick are easy to hate. It's classic good-versus-evil, and yet there is more to the story than just the interaction between the good and bad groups. There are monsters and strange powers to deal with. The plot is pretty amazing.
I'm pretty sure I've just talked myself into reading Hunger a bit sooner.
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