Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant
Copyright 2008
Harper Teen - YA/Sci-Fi
558 pages

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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  1. My kids have read the second book in this series many times, and have been after me to get the first one for them. I am not really sure why I haven't done that yet, other than the fact that it's just something I overlooked. I think this sounds very interesting, and potentially promising and I am going to have to get it for them, and for me. Great review on this one, and sorry that it scared you!

  2. I read this one on vacation and loved how fast the plot was. It was so intense, but without being too scary like Stephen King's books. I've been holding off on the sequel just because I have so many other commitments right now and I know I'll drop everything once I start it.

  3. Zibilee,

    You should definitely grab the first book and read it, yourself! I don't mind a slightly scary book, now and then. It was a good kind of scary -- just enough to keep reading, not enough to induce nightmares.


    Yep, same here. I'm afraid if I start the next book I won't put it down till I'm done. Gone was pretty gripping. I bought the third book, yesterday.

  4. I've been back and forth on this's not one I'm dying to read, but it always speaks to me whenever I see it in the bookstore :p Whispers: "pick me will like me" :p Glad you enjoyed it Nance!!

  5. Well, I'm glad you liked it, most people seem to. I couldn't stand that the author created a kill or be killed world and the "good" kids wouldn't kill. I'm not so faint of heart. Can you tell? ;)

  6. Chris,

    I don't know what exactly led to the purchase of Gone -- maybe it was just an impulse buy -- but I'm glad I got it. There are things I think you'd like about it and some I think you might dislike, but I'm not 100% certain. Maybe I should loan you my copy. You come through all the time, after all. ;)


    I didn't think about that, but I would have to agree with you that the good guys not killing in a case where leaving someone alive could mean more good people dying was not something that thrilled me. You have to wonder if the author chose to make his good guys a little bit wimpy just to keep the series going. But, I want to read on, so it wasn't enough to steer me away. I think the fact that the ending gave the book a sense of completion helped me to look past that. Had it been a cliffhanger, I would have been very, very irritated.

  7. I really should read this at some point. I have glanced at it several times at the bookstore over the years, but never bought it...

  8. Kelly,

    I looked at it several times before buying, too. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

  9. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Sounds right up my alley! My library doesn't have it, but I have it ILL-ed already, and I can't wait for it to get here! Sam sounds like my favorite type of YA character, so I can't wait to just eat him up. Thanks for a great review!

  10. Wereadtoknow,

    I liked Sam. I thought he was very human - heroic but flawed, yet basically a very good person. I hope you enjoy Gone, when it arrives. :)

  11. Oh, this sounds like my kind of book! Adding it to my library list.

  12. People who don't desire to become leaders are often the best ones...

  13. Ondrej,

    I think that may have been part of the point. Sam's nemesis was as greedy for power as Sam was wary of it.


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