Gone – Michael Grant

About the Book:

It happens in an instant.  One moment, the adults of Perdido Beach are there, and the next…they’re gone.  Only kids 14 and under remain, and suddenly, chaos breaks out.  No parents to take care of babies, no doctors to handle the sick, not to mention a giant barrier around the city blocking everyone from getting in, or getting out.

Now, it’s up to the kids, but not all kids want to play things the same way.  Mary just wants people to help her and her brother take care of the pre-school, making sure the little kids are safe and healthy.  Albert decides to run the McDonald’s, and is mostly concerned with whether there will be enough food for people to survive on.  And others, like some of the Coates Academy kids led by the charmingly evil Caine, want to take over the city for themselves, no matter what the cost.

Now Sam Temple, along with his friends Quinn, Edilio, and Astrid have to try and stop Caine and his followers, most notably the vicious Drake Merwin.  There are only two catches.  One, Sam’s fifteenth birthday is coming up, and once you turn fifteen, you blink out of existence.  And two, some of the teens are starting to develop…powers.  Lightning Speed, Teleportation, Healing, Firestarting, and more.  And some of these powers are going to be used for evil.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book while making a pathfinder for The Hunger Games at work.  I’m not really sure why I even decided to read it, because the plot didn’t sound that interesting to me.  But, I got it.  I read it.  I’m glad I did.

This is a good book.  A lot of the book is from Sam’s point of view, but it often flicks to other characters as well, which was nice.  It was really interesting to see all the extra little characters like Mary, the characters not wrapped up in the big battle between good and evil.  There are some characters I don’t like, but there are a bunch I do like, too, which makes for a good balance.

I love the character of Drake.  He is so utterly evil that it makes reading about him really fun.  You want the good guys to give it to him, but at the same time, it’s fantastic when he gets his lucky breaks.  I hate stories when the bully is supposed to be big and bad, but he/she never actually does anything bad, or else the good guys *always* thwart the bully’s plans.  I love to see a mix of the two, with sometimes Drake winning, and sometimes him losing.  It makes the book less predictable, and it’s just a lot of fun!

The book turns pretty superhero-y by the end, but surprisingly this didn’t bother me.  I’m not a huge superhero person, but I liked that the kids were just normal kids, and they have to come to terms with the fact that they are gaining these powers.  It’s mentioned that powers can be developed late, too, so it gives the possibility for other characters to gain powers later in the series, which is intriguing.

The book is not perfect.  I think I would have preferred if it was kids 17 or 18 and older who disappeared, not 15.  I just found that there was a strange imbalance with the personalities of the kids.  They did very adult things sometimes, and then, kind of like Grant wanted to emphasize that they were, in fact, kids, they were really oblivious or ignorant to things most 13 and 14 year-olds would already know. 

An example of each: Sam, 14, says he went on a date with a girl a couple of years ago, because he felt pressured to by his peers, and his mother kept asking him if he was going out with anyone.  A couple of years ago would have meant Sam would have been 11 or 12.  What kind of parent pressures there 11 or 12 year-old to be dating?

On the other hand, at one point Diana tells Computer Jack about her father’s mistress, and she asks him if he knows what a mistress is.  He *thinks* he does.  Most 14 year-olds I know (and knew) would know what a mistress is.  In addition to this, the kids apparently don’t know what encyclopedias are.  ??  I hope 14 year olds still know what an encyclopedia is!  However, these are just little things, and they don’t take away from the book as a whole.

The ending of the book was a bit lack luster.  It’s a series, and it’s obvious that it was intended to be a series from the start.  No one major dies, and nothing major really happens that couldn’t have been predicted way earlier in the book.  I would have liked to have seen something big for the amount of build up that came, so I was disappointed with how it finished.

But nevertheless, this is definitely a good book.  I was excited while I read it, and I read it quickly.  I found it easy to get through.  It was engaging, and it made me feel emotions, which is always good.  For fans of The Hunger Games, superheroes, Lord of the Flies, dystopian fiction, and books about the battle between good and evil and worlds where kids take charge, this is definitely a good choice.

Rating: ****  

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