(A Book Review of Michael Grant’s Gone)
On a quiet, ordinary day everyone began to disappear.
Adults just poofed. Gone. In the blink of an eye.
But there are some that remained. Kids not over the age of fourteen.
And the world — or rather the part of their world — for Sam Temple and the bunch of his friends was somehow altered, reality frayed at the edges. Phone lines are dead. There is no internet connection. Televisions only display static on its screens. No one has a clue what happened. And as it dawned on the children, help might take too long in coming.
As food dwindles and bullies tried to lord over town, panic and fear erupts — chaos ensues.
Yet that’s not all.
Animals began mutating. Seagulls suddenly grow with talons, snakes sprout wings and coyotes can now speak. Teens are also changing; a transformation that’s weirder than puberty and hormonal spurt can cause, for they unexpectedly discovered within themselves odd “talents” — powers beyond their imagination, deadly and dangerous.
This is the exciting premise of Michael Grant’s debut novel Gone, the first in the projected six part book series. This “spherical barrier” unexpectedly descending on or appearing around a town reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s recent novel Under The Dome though Grant’s book I think is quite innovative and has a uniqueness all its own; besides, I haven’t read the latter book. For one, the barrier helps in building up the feeling of isolation the kids’ feel in this claustrophobic setting where there’s neither way in nor out. In simple terms it’s a hotbed for conflict and basically that’s what this book is all about: the clash between bullies and weaklings, between those who wants to preserve order and those who desires for total control, and ultimately between kids with “The Power” and those without. That spells G-O-O-D for an action-packed, suspenseful novel such as this one. The break neck pacing of the story is complemented by Grant’s short, straight forward, albeit fragmented, sentences that makes reading a breeze for the teens to which this books is mostly aimed for — whether or not they have the power of speed reading. I say, this one’s a cinch kid!
The characters are likable though a bit shallow for my taste. Ironically, I found the villains with a certain kind of dimension to them, they’re better drawn up. Yet I’m still optimistic that they’ll fully develop nuances in their individuality and quirks in future installments.
However, I still have some issues with this book. First, the mystery surrounding the FAYZ was not made immediate or compelling. All I thought this puzzle will hang over the heads of the characters throughout the book. I know, with this book slated in a series and all, that the author will reveal it to us bit by bit. Instead it was treated as just another normal incident happening at Perdido Beach. Like the kids you’ll to learn to accept it and deal with it. The ending for me is sloppy and anti-climactic. The author could’ve done himself a favor for doing a cliff-hanging, thrilling conclusion with a sense of deepening mystery that would make the readers go and grab the next book. The action just stopped without a sense of closure for this first book. I know this is not a literary work, but with the way the plot keyed up and sparked my interest I thought it too will be a good vehicle to convey challenging themes but the author tend to overlooked it and jump right into the action. But hey, maybe this is just him laying the groundwork for future books and that will give him ample elbow room to bring this up and improve it for readers out there that’s not just into all that action. Like others I just want learn something from what I read and I was tad disappointed that this was just another story of good versus evil, light against darkness.
Gone is a promising debut to start a series with. I admit the author bungled up some, other than that it will not prevent teens who want some good mystery, action, and suspense for their next book from reading it. It’s not that highly-addicting for me and I guess I need a month or so for my (mild) curiosity to build up for the next book and set in.
Published by Harper Teens
(Hardcover 2008 First Edition)
Started: June 8, 2010
Finished: June 14, 2010