Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Review: Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant
Series: 1st in the Gone Series: Gone (2008), Hunger (2009), Lies (2010), Plague (April 4 2011), Fear (TBR), Light (TBR)
Genre: Apocalyptic
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release Date: April 6th 2008
Format: Paperback, 558 pages
ISBN-13:  9781405246347
RRP: $19.95 AUD
Source: Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review, and all opinions expressed are my own. 
Cover love? I love the continuity between the covers (see them at the bottom of the page), because they are simple, but eye catching. The spooky green also makes a great statement.

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...


In Michael Grant's own words,  Gone will "creep you out...make you stay up all night reading, then roll into school tired the next day so that you totally blow the big test and end up dropping out of school." Well, not to the extent that you drop out of school, but Gone will definitely leave your heart pounding in the dark long after you read it, with your mind racing on to imagine how you would fare in Michael Grant's highly realistic world, where every day in the FAYZ is a highly tense game of survival.

Imagine that one day, everyone over the age of 15 suddenly disappears. Gone. What would the remaining kids do them? This premise of Gone utterly intrigued me. I've read Lord of the Flies for school, and was haunted by the concept of the degradation of civilisation to a primitive state, in the hands of children cut off from an adult world, and Michael Grant explores this with intelligence and skill in his saga.

The difference is that the children in the Lord of the Flies (LotF) must make do for themselves, suffering from the lack of food, clothing and shelter, while the children in Gone already are equipped with everything they need to stay alive for several months. While the death toll is greater in Gone than LotF, the percentage of deaths is higher in LotF, making a statement about the ease with which murder can be committed in the 20th century. 

Michael Grant also explores the extent to which humans are prepared to harm others in favour of their own survival. Readers of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will also be familiar with this theme - the survival of the fittest, and the truth that many people have the capability to kill when they need to. I think it's a very twisted but interesting topic to discuss. Would you kill someone else to save yourself (in self defence)? What if a loved one's life was at stake? I'd love to see your answers. I'm not sure whether or not I could do it - I've never so much as punched someone else with the intent to incapacitate them (I definitely have kicked annoying people playfully). Placed in a hypothetical situation though, I believe an innate sense of self-preservation would kick in and everyone would, to  some extent, do what they have to to survive. 

Back onto the book, Michael Grant has a captivating writing style that does more than carry his intriguing plot line. It paints a believable alternate universe, with characters that are admirable but generic. The main character, Sam, is your typical adventure hero: he's a normal kid, but when the time comes, he has the courage to be a hero. He also has a good heart, and is a natural leader, quipped with fantastical powers and good looks that he is unaware of. The other characters are cliched - the beautiful girlfriend, the best friend who is forever in Sam's shadows, and the evil antagonists that try to take over. Despite their typicality, the characters work well together, and are strongly built.

Gone is a haunting mix of survival themes from Lord of the Flies, imaginative science fiction phenomena at its best, and a thrilling sense of adventure from The Hunger Games. It's a book you'll definitely want to devour.


Gone Official Website | Gone at Egmont | Read an excerpt  | Michael Grant's Website | Goodreads

Plague comes out on the 5th of April, 2011. Read an excerpt of Plague and check out the haunting cover below: It has a plague of locusts rather than a male figure in the text like the previous covers...perhaps to symbolise a change? Suspenseful...!