Title: Gone (Gone #1)
Author: Michael Grant
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Genre: Children, Science-Fiction, Adventure
Published: 24th June 2008 by Egmont
Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Synopsis: “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…” (Taken from Goodreads)
– – – –
Gone is the first book in this new apocalyptic series by Michael Grant. It follows a series of characters aged 14 and under who realises that out of nowhere, everyone over the age of 15 suddenly disappears, leaving only children to take care of themselves and the others around them.
The main plot of the novel follows Sam Temple, a boy who likes to stay away from the limelight as he’s beginning to develop ‘powers’. His one heroic event prior to the disappearance of all adults had him dubbed as School Bus Sam, as he managed to save a bus full of classmates when the bus driver suffered a heart attack at the wheel. Following that heroic event, Sam had become a recluse until the ‘FAYZ’, the name the kids had dubbed this apocalyptic event. At the sight of a burning building in town, Sam instinctively rushes in to save a young girl trapped within the apartment block. His actions throw him into the limelight once more, and Sam begins to realise that people are starting to look to him for answers, and to lead. Unwilling to take on the responsibility for many reasons, Sam decides to help his crush Astrid look for her missing brother instead. And so begins the whirlwind adventure that Sam embarks on as he learns that other kids on Perdido beach are also developing powers as well. And some of them are not using them for good.
First off, I really did enjoy this book, but I also had some issues with it. I liked the alternating perspectives between Sam, Lana and even the occasional shifts to Caine and Howard’s perspectives however, I failed to see what role Alfred’s point-of-views played to the overall story. Alfred is one of the kids that decided to take over the local McDonalds and run it so others wouldn’t starve. While his perspective was light-hearted in comparison to Sam’s, I failed to see how it was of any importance to add it into the novel. I was bored reading about him taking inventory of the shop and how he was running out of bread to make the burgers. That’s not to say I hated him as a character, in fact I respect Alfred a lot for taking charge and using his skills to benefit this awful situation. But once again, I don’t think flicking over to his perspective was necessary.
Another issue I found with the book was the ages. It was never explained why everyone specifically 15 and over disappeared. Why 15? I have a feeling that this will probably be answered in the next five books, but in 560 pages, I was really hoping that Grant would at least give us a hint. I also had a problem with some of the characters and their ages. I couldn’t picture Sam as a 14 year old boy at all, he was behaving as someone much older than 14 (at least 16), so it didn’t help when all I wanted to know was why Grant used 15 as the cutoff age.
But saying all that, I thought the book was quite realistic in its portrayal of a society that had just lost all its adults. Children scared and breaking into the stores taking all the junk food was right on par with what I could imagine happening. I’m very glad that someone actually took action in regards to the babies still remaining in the town, and that the littles were being looked after. This Lord of the Flies-esque book encapsulates a clear image of what potentially may occur within an adult-less town. The actions of many characters were quite believable, and I found myself shocked at times when certain characters went overboard with some of their behaviour. And it scares me that I couldn’t find issues with the way some of the characters behaved because honestly, it wasn’t all that far-fetched in my mind. I honestly think that some of the cruel things that occurred could actually happen if our world turned apocalyptic.
While I felt this novel was quite cliche, it was still quite enjoyable in its own right. I couldn’t help thinking it was a mix of Lord of the Flies, Under the Dome and X-men all mixed together, but you know what, it worked and I will definitely pick up the other books in the series just to find out what the hell is going on!