Gone by Michael Grant Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
ISBN – 13: 978-0-061-44878-2
“In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE. Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents – unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers – that grow stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.
The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, Gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.”
Gone was (almost) everything I love in a (sort of) post-apocalyptic novel. I agree with the back of the book that it is a novel that will make you look at the world in a whole new way – if you’re not me and haven’t read numerous books like it before. Gone just re-affirmed my love for apocalypse storylines, and Michael Grant handled it in a way I’ve yet to see. Asteroids, earthquakes, aliens, demons, war, genetic experiments, etc., etc. have been done to death (pardon the pun). But everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappearing and the town of Perdido Beach finding itself enclosed in a white dome – which is really more of a complete circle? New! To me, anyway.
Whenever I pick up a book I think I might like to read, I don’t just read the back; I read the first sentence, and if that drags me in, I read the last page (horrible of me, I know, but I love spoilers). The first sentence of Gone had me reading the first chapter, standing in the teen section of Chapters. I had to force myself to stop reading so that I could buy the book and take it home to keep reading.
“One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone. There. Gone. No “poof”. No flash of light. No explosion.”
So technically that’s seven sentences, but you get the idea. Wouldn’t you want to read a book that started with the teacher disappearing? I would, and I did. And I loved it.
If you look at it properly, Gone is a genuinely scary book. Kids and teens are left alone in a dome, with no way to contact the outside world; they don’t even know if there still IS an outside world. Bullies start trying to take over and within days the first kid is murdered, smashed in the head with a baseball bat by the biggest bully – at least until the private school kids show up in town. The novel is definitely set up as a good vs. evil storyline, and uses kids to showcase that. It’s true, though. Think about it – if every adult in the world suddenly disappeared right now, what do you think would happen? Children can be cruel, and without adults – parents, teachers, cops – to police their behaviour against other kids, I have no doubt that chaos would reign. In the book, fourteen year olds are handed machine guns (Quinn) and asked to possibly kill, and it’s not that unbelievable. How many kids under the age of eighteen end up in juvinile court for posession of weapons? Teens are the ones who commit school shootings, and even six year olds can get a hold of a weapon and accidently kill another kid. We don’t want to believe it could happen, but it does, and without adults? I can almost guarantee it would. So props to Michael Grant for keeping things believable, even if they are scary or disturbing (finding the dead baby in a house, and having to bring it out to bury it? Disturbing, but believable).
While Grant could have created a perfectly good story with just the elements of kids being left alone, he added in an element of the supernatural, which makes me love Gone even more. Kids are developing powers, animals are mutating, and The Darkness is discovered. The Darkness and the powers have something to do with the creation of the dome and what the kids soon dub with FAYZ – Fallout Alley Youth Zone. Fallout Alley, you say? Yea. To make things worse, Perdido Beach is home to a nuclear power plant that’s already had one accident. But the powers! Not only is it bullies against everyone else, they kids have to worry that it will come down to powered-kids against non-powered-kids. And the private school students aren’t helping matters any.
The ‘good guys’ are mostly from Perdido Beach. We have Sam, Astrid, Quinn, Edilio, Little Pete and Lana. The ‘bad guys’ are mostly from the private school, Coates Academy – Caine, Drake, Diana, Computer Jack (who isn’t really bad, per se) – with Orc and Howard, two bullies from Perdido Beach, joining them. Caine is power hungry and wants to control the kids with powers, to the point where he wants to be the only one. Sam is his biggest rival when it comes to power level. Drake is just a psychopath. He’s non-powered, but what he lacks in powers he makes up for in sadism. He is the creepiest character in the book, hands down.
Grant keeps the action in the book flowing very well, and since it is the first in a series, gives just enough background information for us to want more – a great way to make us want to read the next book. We just have more questions by the time we finish reading all 558 pages of Gone. The only thing I found a little distracting was the immense character list. I’m not usually a fan of having a lot of characters to keep track of. Not only do we have the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ above, there is also Albert (in charge of cooking), Mary and John (running the daycare), Dahra and Elwood (in charge of the ‘hospital’), Cookie (quasi-bully), Brianna (Coates kid who follows Sam), Taylor (Coates kid who follows Sam) and numerous other secondary characters. Most are mentioned enough it’s not hard to keep them straight, but it could have very well fallen into the realm of me needing to flip back every few chapters trying to remember who someone was. I’m hoping the next books don’t add too many new characters.
The only thing I found a little awkward about the book was the talking coyotes. I know that the animals were mutating, but the clawed seagulls and flying snakes were still more normal than the coyotes. Yes, Grant kept them very coyote like, but I still don’t quite see how a mutation could cause them to speak. Would coyotes even speak English even if they could talk? In the overall scheme of things, this was a very small blip and one that I could deal with. Grants’ writing style makes up for any blips, in my mind. He switches points of view flawlessly, and though he doesn’t go in depth into the background of his characters, it’s done in a way that lets the reader believe that as the series goes on, more information will be forthcoming. He just has too many characters to get personal about each one.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, although it may be slightly too much for younger readers. Parents would have to decide, in those cases. Gone was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and is a book that I can see myself reading again.