Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Review: Gone

Dear Blog,
Today's review is for Gone by Michael Grant.  I've spent  many many late nights reading it.

Summary (from Goodreads): 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...

Review: First things first: I much prefer the UK cover (the one I've posted), to the US one. I generally prefer UK covers. Not just because I live there, but because often I just think they're better, is all.
Second things second: Take seriously the 12+ rating and WARNING: CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE AND CRUELTY sticker on the back (again don't know if that's on the US cover).  Either way, do not misinterpret it.  It's the most graphic book I've read in ages.  Even Persepolis isn't that graphic, and that's a graphic novel about growing up during the Iranian Revolution.  If  they make it into a film (which it would be the purest awesome if they did), I should expect to recreate the true horror of the book,it would have to be a 15.  I certainly think the age rating on the back ought to be 14+.  Some parts of it are very gruesome, very graphic, very creepy and very, very disturbing.
I can't remember which newspaper said that if Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, then Gone would be it.  I've read Lord of the Flies and I also read that part of The Green Mile where Edward Delacroix's execution goes wrong and he's fried like an egg.  I wish I hadn't.  Oh well, I was 11 and curious about the dark world of horror fiction.  What more can I say?  Either way, that quote completely nailed it and that's how I would describe it to somebody who asked what it was about. 
Although it's so gripping you would want to stay up all night reading, I'd suggest you don't.  Last night I was reading it and I kept looking around my bedroom to check everything was in its right place.  Perhaps it's just me being a wuss because despite my slightly creepy love for end-of-the-world apocalypse fiction, this is almost a horror novel and I read very little of that.  Or perhaps it was just the contrast between Gone and the book I read right before that, Strawberry Marshmallow (Ichigo Mashimaro) 3, a.k.a the cutest, fluffiest, silliest manga in the history of the world.

The book, for all its size, is set over the point of 299 hours and 54 minutes, so there's always something going on.  It drives me round the bend when books say "weeks passed", or "months passed".  In that sense, *Gone* is brief and gets right to the point.

Most likely my only complaint is that I wish you found out more about the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone, the name the kids give to their world-without-adults). Why's it there?  How long will it be there? Is there any way out? What was giving the kids powers? (I assumed it was something to do with nuclear radiation or something but isn't really explained) Who (or what) exactly is The Darkness?  What exactly was Little Pete's connection to the FAYZ? I read the scene where that question comes into the equation three or four times but it still didn't make much sense.  I can't say much more about that because it is a major spoiler that gives much away.  If you can make sense of it. Either way, it seemed to ask more questions that it answered, but it's going to be a 6-book series and no doubt more and more will be revealed about it as the series goes on. The second and third books *Lies* and *Hunger*, are out already in the US (alas *Lies has only just been released in the UK).  As soon as they're out in the library I'll definitely be reading them.

Rating: 4.5

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