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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gone by Michael Grant - review

Imagine a normal day; you wake up, half-asleep, forcing yourself into the regular routine, the normal day-to-day procedure of getting into school uniform, going downstairs to grumble a 'hi' to your parents and then hurriedly eating breakfast as you realise the bus is about to leave any minute.

You run out of the house and collapse onto the bus seat, and you embark on a long journey to school with the unpleasant prospect of history class looming over your head. Then it hits you that you didn't even say 'bye' to your mum,but you shrug it off; after all, you're going to see her at the end of the day – it's not a big deal.

That's what you'd have thought, anyway.

But in the town of San Perdido, things have strayed far from 'regular' and 'normal.' In a flash, everyone over the age of fourteen has disappeared, they're just... gone. To the confusion and surprise of the children who remain, a giant forcefield of sorts now encircles the area of Perdido Beach, preventing anyone from entering - or leaving.

The stranded children find themselves exposed to the threat of conflict, danger and death, as the idea of living in a world devoid of adults quickly becomes a hard-hitting reality. With no phones or televisions working either, the town soon becomes a prison for these 'survivors', and with no way to get help, time is running out for each remaining individual: the day you turn fifteen is the day you disappear, just like everyone else.

Whilst this isn't an immediate problem for the younger ones, for 14 year old Sam Temple and his friends, each day brings them one step closer to meeting their fate and disintegrating into absolutely nothing.

Then there's another twist; as if the whole idea of an impenetrable shield coupled with the disappearances isn't enough, some kids start developing strange powers – some being more deadly than others – which are strengthening as the days go by. In the meantime, resources are quickly becoming depleted, sides are being chosen, people are being manipulated; it won't be long before a catastrophic fight ensues.

In my opinion, Gone and its sequels, all the way to the final installment Light, are highly dark even for the young adult audience they are aimed at. Grant is successful in writing a brutal, unforgiving account of the reality within the sphere in which the children are now restricted: scenes of death, mutilation, and moral dilemmas form the basis of the plot in each book.

However, the characters, introduced in Gone, are all deliciously complex and relatable, and despite the ostensibly unbelievable concept of the novels, Grant is able to craft a surprisingly realistic setting. What I love the most about the characters in Gone is that despite all the terrible actions that happens in the series, and the unimaginable torture suffered, Grant always reminds the reader that these are just kids, like you and I, which helps to put the plot into perspective.

I am certain that the fast-paced and frighteningly gripping Gone, and the successive novels in the series, will not fail to delight many readers, ranging from fans of The Hunger Games, to hard-core Stephen King admirers, to those who prefer the modern classic Lord of the Flies.

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