REVIEW: Gone by Michael Grant

REVIEW: Gone by Michael GrantGone (Gone #1) by Michael Grant
Published: HarperTeen (2008), Hardcover, 576pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

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, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else… (from Amazon)

I had no idea what Gone was about when I picked this book off of the shelf at my local library, but the first page made it seem really, really good. And it was! I love it when that happens.

I love the premise of Gone, especially since it features one of my favorite things in YA fiction: a group of kids fending for themselves without adult helping or guiding them. There’s so much potential in these kinds of stories, and luckily Gone seems to have more sense than maybe some other books do. The kids in Gone don’t start off self-sufficient and ready to make a new life for themselves; they have to be coaxed out of apathy and near-anarchy and even then it’s a strained relationship between the leaders and the lead. A lot of people compare the situation in Gone to the situation in Lord of the Flies, and I agree. There’s always some bully who wants to take over the group and run it with an iron fist, and that’s no exception here. But then, the bully in Gone has superpowers.

Oh yeah. Superpowers. Quite a few of the kids do, actually, which makes Gone even more interesting than maybe a straight post-apocalyptic tale would be. A lot of details Gone are weird like Triskellion was weird– I just had to go for it and suspend my disbelief for a while, even if plot developments didn’t entirely make sense. I don’t think I can even really talk about many more of those details because I’d be spoiling you, and I don’t think you’d have as much fun if you knew everything in advance. (Sorry.) And anyway, even though it was filled with weird stuff, Gone was also fun and exciting, and I ended up reading the whole thing in one day!

What I liked most about Gone was how Sam, one of the main characters, wasn’t a cut-and-dry hero type. He didn’t even want to be the hero. He wanted to let someone else do it, and it wasn’t even until right near the very end of the book that he finally took over the reins. It was a bit refreshing, since the perfect-leader-since-birth thing can be very overdone. Not that we didn’t all know Sam was going to be the leader eventually anyway– not only did practically ever other character in the book say so, but it was in Sam’s very nature to take over when things get rough, evidenced when he saved a busload of kids from falling over a cliff simply by thinking quickly and acting. Hero potential right there, baby.

Gone does have some problems. Several plot turns could be seen from miles away, for instance, and some other details were completely cliched (like, oh: dashing young hero gets previously supposedly unattainable beautiful young heroine? Dashing young hero destined to be great leader? Dashing young hero has evil arch-enemy and lots of family secrets? etc.), but, honestly, the rest of the book made up for those disappointments. The writing was engaging, the characters were easy to empathize with if a little bland sometimes, and the story never dragged. Quite an accomplishment for such a long book!

I highly recommend Gone for fans of YA sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fiction, and Stephen King. I can’t wait to read the next book and see if some seriously annoying questions left over in the first are answered!

Read: May 2009

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: Gone by Michael Grant”

  1. Fascinating review. I’ve only read positive things about this book so far, so it’s good to hear a balance, although you clearly still loved it! I’ll definitely look out for it. Thanks!

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