Newest Review: ... is like The X-men meets Lord Of The Flies meets Under The Dome and, for me, didn't really gel together as a whole. I know I... more
Sam was never quite prepared for the day that his History Teacher poofed out of existence!
Gone - Michael Grant
Member Name: carl_lazarevic
Gone - Michael Grant
Advantages: Strong characters and cool villains.
Disadvantages: Gets a little disjointed toward the end.
Sam Temple has always preferred surfing with his best friend Quinn to being popular, but will always be remembered for that one time a few years ago that he took control of the school bus after the driver passed out. He saved a lot of lives that day, but has since remained quiet enough to become an innocuous classmate to most of the children. This may be a simple case of childhood shyness; or it could be down to the fact that Sam has a secret that he's terrified of being discovered. Sam is a freak! As a child a strange mutant power developed in Sam that hurt someone close to him, and he's been keeping this a secret ever since.
So Sam has had a somewhat interesting life already, though he was never quite prepared for the day that his history teacher poofed out of existence! Outside of his classroom hundreds of children are left wondering where their parents went the day everyone older than 14 'poofed out'. Scared and alone the majority of children are looking to 'School-bus Sam' to direct them through the crises and comfort them until their parents return. Sam feels ill prepared to take charge of this world ruled by bullies; where contact with the outside world has been cut off by a sinister barrier, and more and more children are developing strange new powers. That's when the charismatic young Caine arrives from Coates Academy; an upper-class boarding school for troubled children, and takes charge of the situation. Setting up a sort of stop gap government Cain is quick to issue his own disturbed brand of justice. Sam would like to ignore all of this and help the girl of his dreams find her autistic younger brother, but he must first balance this with the need to look after the smaller children.
In the Teen Sci-Fi novel 'Gone' a mystery will unravel that will turn Sam's world upside down. The first story in a series of novels set in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) this book sets you up for what is to come; an intriguing world that treads the line between X-Men and Lord of the Flies nicely.
It's generally a very fast paced book that treats its interesting premise in a mature way, and is at its most interesting when portraying the effects of an adult-less world upon the children. There are some very emotionally disturbing moments that could upset small children as they successfully identify the very real problems these kids would be facing. There are a few characters that really shine in this section including one young girl who takes it upon herself to try and raise all of the abandoned pre-teens, and a young boy named Albert who occupies his days by re-opening the local McDonald's. There's even one Eleven Year Old girl; who is handed a medical dictionary and declared a doctor, whose struggles really tug the heart strings.
It was a shame that as the book developed it moved away from these engaging topics, and shifted the focus into action and adventure. I didn't mind too much as the change in focus has enabled Grant to build a compelling world for a series of books rather than limiting his focus to this one story. As it moved into more action territory the villains took the centre stage. While these children lacked the depth of the sidelined characters they were written with a style and vibrancy that will appeal to young adults everywhere. Most notable was a mentally disturbed Coates kid named Drake who makes up for his lack of powers with a worryingly sadistic obsession with guns. Drake is the perfect example of a henchman that outshines the main villain, and was able to evoke a sense of fear despite being a mere child.
It was in the latter half of the book that Grant raises even more questions as he introduces some scary monsters with a mission to torment the children as much as possible. Despite the high speed though, the book managed to retain a very suspenseful sense of foreboding due to the way that every chapter is counting down to Sam's Fifteenth birthday.
My only real complaint was that the story felt slightly more rushed toward the end as Grant tried to set the world up for the sequels. As a result he had a few generic character types that appear without ever really explaining their origins. Some of them will hopefully be explained as the series progresses, while others are merely poorly explained here. However this is a small fault in a story that is engaging more often than anything else. I highly recommend it!
Summary: A very cool 'young adult' novel that paves the way for an excellent series.