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Plague is a disappointing entry into Michael Grant's 'Gone' Saga set within the confines of the F.A.Y.Z (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). The F.A.Y.Z is a 20 mile section of an American coastal town that was one day entombed within a strange barrier. Everyone over the age of 14 vanished, and the kids inside started to develop strange new powers.
Plague is set directly after the events of the last book Lies and sees Astrid struggling to comprehend the meaning behind the momentary disappearance of the F.A.Y.Z wall when her little brother Petey lost his concentration. Now everyone in town is beginning to suspect what Astrid already knows; that this autistic child may be the most powerful freak in the F.A.Y.Z and that his powers may have caused the dire situation in the first place. Some people even begin to speculate that killing Little Petey could bring down the F.A.Y.Z wall; one act of murder to save so many lives.
Meanwhile Sam has been sent on a mission into the local mountains to find a fresh water source before the lake they have been using runs dry. Water is desperately needed as the flu season has arrived, but; this being the F.A.Y.Z, the flu has mutated into a deadly new disease that few could survive. Little Petey is one of the victims of this disease, and so lies helpless as others contemplate his fate.
Matters are further complicated when a new species of bug is discovered that grows inside; and then eats its way out of, any human unfortunate enough to be bitten by one of them. These bugs have adapted to life in the F.A.Y.Z and as such have developed a hard shell that can reflect even Sam's killing rays.
As a story itself Plague has a lot of potential. Once again it becomes an emotional experience as Dara struggles to cope in her role as the town Doctor. She's been given a medical book and expected to cope as children start dying around her. It is an interesting new development that adds to the drama of the F.A.Y.Z nicely.
Other characters are further developed as Caine and Dianna settle down and contemplate their future on an isolated island together. Astrid contemplates her own morality and begins to question the strong faith in God that has held her together during the F.A.Y.Z, and Sam struggles to balance his need to be a hero with his growing hormones and desire to be left alone.
One character that I was particularly interested in through this book was Little Petey. As he lies in his near comatose state you are treated to chapters dedicated to Petey and his autistic view of both the F.A.Y.Z and his battles with the Gaiaphage. I was hooked in these chapters and personally can not wait to see where Grant takes the characters.
So overall I was pleased by a story itself that grew its characters well, featured another scary showing from Drake, and developed some unique themes for the kids of the F.A.Y.Z to explore. So why do I describe it as disappointing?
The answer is simple enough. Plague is; at times, a very violent book. There have always been unpleasant things occurring within the F.A.Y.Z, but in this entry Grant takes things way too far. I don't necessarily mind any of the ideas introduced, but Grant's portrayal of them goes a little too far. He describes things like kids being cut in half, or bugs bursting out of them, with the kind of sadistic glee that I would normally associate with someone like Quentin Tarantino. It reached a point where I very nearly gave up on the series as a whole; if not for the fact that I researched it and found that things should calm down a little in the last two books, as I found parts of the book so unpleasant.
I'd be lying if I claimed that the characters, story, and action packed narrative are not as much fun as ever. They are! Plague is another intense adventure in the world of the F.A.Y.Z, but one that is hurt by an unnecessary obsession with being dark. It's just too gruesome for a young adult novel, and that really does spoil the entertainment you can take from the book!