Gone (Gone #1)
By Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date Published: July 1, 2008
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.I've seen Gone around bookstore shelves for a long time now. I was always intrigued, but never managed to pick it up these past few years. At 558 pages, the physical size of Gone is a little intimidating, but I seemed to breeze through this one quite quickly and realized that all those times I didn't decide to read it, I was missing out. Gone's exploration of a grownup-free society is staggering and reveals both the best and the worst sides of young teens as they struggle to survive in a world where they're forced to be the adults in (literally) the blink of an eye.
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...
I loved Sam's battle with leadership and realizing the potential he has. At first, he shies away from the responsibility of caring for everyone who has been left behind but in the end he steps up because he realizes that there are no adults to magic away the problems and the survival of everyone in Perdido Beach depends on him. I'm glad that Gone addresses this fear of leadership because I think it's genuinely something that teenagers struggle with in the real world. Gone definitely also makes you appreciate the roles and the experience adults have around you; though many teens and kids often wish that grown ups would disappear and leave them alone, the truth is that everything would be in chaos. It's another case of "You don't know what you have until it's gone." We imagine a world of unrestricted access to TV and internet, dessert every meal, or no school- but
Though keeping up with all the extremely diverse and numerous characters may be confusing, I really liked all of them. They all had distinct traits and it wasn't difficult to differentiate them by the end of the book. I especially loved Astrid (I think it's my preference for smart characters who are always one step ahead of everyone else; think Hermione Granger) and I found that I could really identify with her, though she's probably ten times smarter! And Sam and Astrid are now on my favorite literary couples list.
Gone is definitely drive by action and plot. It's refreshing to find because a lot of young adult novels lately have revolved around romance in supernatural situations or dystopian worlds. While it has both supernatural and dystopian elements, the focus isn't on the romance (Thankfully! Sometimes a break from all of that fluffy love is nice). Some parts did seem to drag, mostly because Grant likes his descriptions, but overall, it was fast-paced and a definite page turner.
I love this world that Grant has created (and the nuclear element is eerily similar to what's happening in Japan right now) and can't wait to dive into Hunger, Lies, and Plague, which is coming out April 5.