Book review

Gone by Michael Grant (2009)

Part 1 of the Gone series

Do you think it would be nice to just get rid of all the adults in your life? No parents. No school teachers. Sound like fun? No police. No authority. No rules. No farmers. No butchers. No bakers. No supermarkets. No power workers. No firemen. No dustbin men. No nursery workers. Not such fun?

You might think most adults are useless, but without them it seems that there are any number of ways for life as we know it to just collapse. And that's what happens in Perdido Beach California. All the adults suddenly disappear apparently off the face of the earth one day leaving the kids behind, all locked in a bizarre impenetrable bubble. There is no way out. They can't see out. And nobody can get in to rescue them. For the kids, they don't even know if there's anybody out there, beyond the Bubble. You can imagine for yourselves what it would be like at first, even with just ordinary kids...the puzzlement, distress, injuries, the random banding together, and the raiding of stores for junk food.

But then it seems, some of these kids aren't just ordinary. Some of them have been developing powerful mutations, even before the Bubble. Sam can project powerful blasts of burning light from the palms of his hands. Caine can raise objects in defiance of the laws of gravity. Brianna can move faster than the speed of a bullet out of a gun. So that sets the scene. There is conflict between the mutants with powers and the ordinary kids. There is conflict between those who simply want power over others, the bullies, and those who would like common sense and decency to prevail. There is some serious gang warfare going on here, including the coyote pack with the mutant power of language. And there's the creeping sense of evil and darkness emanating from the deepness of the gold mine shaft. And a suspicion that the town's nuclear power plant is somehow implicated in this terrible event.

The kids choose a leader, Sam. He doesn't want to do it. He doesn't know what to do. And anyway the problems mount up so fast no one could really handle this, even with backup from friends:

'You still want me to be the big hero.'

'I want you to be who you are.' She remained beside Little Pete but reached out to take Sam's hand. 'Sam, things are going to get worse. Right now everyone is kind of in a state of shock. They're scared. But they haven't even realised how scared they should be. Sooner or later the food supply runs out. Sooner or later the power plant fails. When we're sitting in the dark, hungry, despairing, who's going to be in charge? Caine? Orc? Drake?'

'Well,' he said drily, 'you make it all sound like a lot of fun.'

There are some really great characters in this story...Lana the Healer, Quinn the Ordinary torn between loyalty and envy, Edilio the Ordinary braveheart, Astrid the Ordinary brainy, and her strange autistic brother Little Pete. Caine, mutant and sworn enemy of Sam. Drake the Ordinary psychopath. Everyone has their own story here, and no one escapes untouched. It's a new kind of Hell. It's total fantasy, but the brutality is real and grim. I think you'll feel a strange and strong kind of compulsion to just keep reading, like a worm in your brain...

What can I read next?

It's a series. There are six books and you can tell from the titles how it goes:

  • Gone
  • Hunger
  • Lies
  • Plague
  • Fear
  • Light

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