It’s over! This series of books is over! Hallelujah! Being the type of person who really hates starting something and not finishing it – whether it is a book, a series of books, movies or whatever, coming to the end of a series of six books is very satisfying. It is very hard for a series to maintain momentum for six books. For me, I think three or four in this series would have been enough. What was extremely effective and kept it going was having a different theme for each book, and the theme being the title.
In the previous novel, Fear, the outside world set off a nuclear explosion in the hope of releasing those inside (or getting rid of what they referred to as the anomaly). The effect it had was to render the barrier invisible, and suddenly not only is it lighter inside with the natural sunlight (Light. Get it?) but the kids inside can see those outside and vice versa. They’ve wanted this for so long, but when the adults see the reality of inside, with young children drunk, smoking, carrying weapons and in various states of malnutrition, the adults start to fear what will happen in they are released. Work grinds to a halt inside as children spend all their time trying to communicate with the outside world. On top on this, the gaiaphage has taken over Diana’s baby with dire consequences. The final battle must commence.
Knowing it was the final book, and with every indication within the book that it must be coming to the end, there was a sense of urgency. Yet Grant did not rush it which left me very concerned that it would not actually end at all. Luckily, it did, and I was very glad to leave this world and these characters behind. It became extremely violent and gruesome by the end, with truly awful things happening. This reminded me of the Hunger Games series, in particular the final book, Mockingjay. Perhaps it is the fact that it clearly is not the real world; there are mutations and creatures, and so there is a lot less ‘real’ violence. Still, some of it was pretty tough going. These characters and books will stay with me for a long time.
The kids in the FAYZ have separated into two distinct camps; those by the lake, led by Sam and those in town led by self-appointed King Caine. This is the book where so many of the premises that have been set up over the previous four books get challenged. Just when there seems to be a good thing going in relation to food production, the dome begins to turn black. If it goes totally black, there is no more food production and people will die. And, as Sam knows all too well, many kids are terribly afraid of the dark.
While I’ve come to love the characters and need to know what is going to happen to them, I’ve reached the point where I just want this series to end. It was very clever to start to see the outside world more and more in this book. Finally, it is confirmed that it does exist and they want to find a way to save those inside. But I want it over.
I wonder sometimes if this series has perhaps too much going on. There is the FAYZ, with kids dealing with living without adults, with the potential fun of this quickly being overpowered by the practicalities. Then there are the freaks; some of the kids have a variety of different powers – creating a killing light, or removing gravity, or super speedy running. There is good vs evil, with Sam and his crew just trying to survive and Caine and his crew wanting power and all that goes with it. Oh, and there are freaky creatures; talking hyenas, flying snakes, swimming bats. Is that not enough for the poor, starving kids? No? How about giving them a disease that causes children to cough themselves to death? That enough?
It’s clearly not supposed to be nice, but as a reader, I kept wondering how much more they could possibly take. Really, how could they keep on with no end in sight? Although what is the option? At this point in the series, I wondered how much more they could take, and indeed, how much more I could take. Sometimes, it’s just a bit too much.
Following on from Hunger, Sam and the rest of the council have found a way to provide enough food to keep everyone alive using a new coin system developed by Albert. However, Sam is not coping well with the power and responsibility that comes with the position he has assumed as unofficial leader of the FAYZ, and the council (including his girlfriend, Astrid) wants to take control. Sam is sick of all the constant talk and lack of action, especially as there is a group of “normals” who have started to rise against the “freaks”, meting out their own cruel justice.
In this, the third book, Grant suddenly introduces several new characters. There are a group of kids from a variety of cultural backgrounds who were adopted by a mega-rich film star couple who also disappeared with the appearance of the dome. When Caine and the few kids who are still following him escape from Perdido Beach, they head to the island in the hope of finding food. Then there is the mysterious Nerezza who no-one recalls from before the dome who encourages kids to listen to Orsay who can visit dreams – and appears to be visiting the dreams of adults outside the dome; parents waiting, hoping their children will appear. And on top of this, Brittany, who had appeared to die in the previous novel, has suddenly reappeared; alive, but not alive. As has Drake.
These new elements keep the story fresh; especially the idea that there is life outside the dome. Plus, there are so many different areas which require exploring – from ensuring that everyone is fed to trying to figure out how these apparently dead people are alive, or whether the stories being told by Orsay have any truth.
This, the second of the Gone series by Michael Grant, continues the story of the children in the dome in Perdido Beach, the place they now call the FAYZ.The children who are still around have figured out how to avoid the leap, where everyone previously disappeared when they turned fifteen. There are those with powers, everything from the ability to stop gravity to the ability to heal and many, many others. Then there are those who are normal. In addition to this, there are the kids from Coates College who want to control the FAYZ who have been fighting with the other kids who are wanting to have a democratic system for running everything, including taking care of the babies. And then there is the creature in the dark that controls wants to run everything and everyone.
In Hunger, there has been a battle between the two main groups – good vs evil – and good has prevailed. Now, there is the problem of food. Most of the goodies have been eaten; all of the ice-cream and sweets. Despite the best efforts of entrepreneur Albert, much of the perishable food has gone. Plus, there are increasing discoveries of mutated animals – talking hyenas, swimming bats and flesh-eating worms. The council is left to deal with figuring out how to feed everyone whilst still battling the Coates kids and the evil in the dark.
Grant has continued to maintain and developing the relationships of the various characters whilst bringing in new and more sadistic issues for the kids to deal with. I particularly like that he is including things which would be challenging for teens in the real world; of course, eating disorders, same-sex attraction and all of the issues relating to teenage relationships would continue regardless of the fact that their world has changed so greatly. The problems that the teenagers seem insurmountable, and in trying to deal with them friendships are challenged and destroyed. The series definitely draws the reader in, and I could not wait to move on to the next book, Lies.
One day, suddenly, in the middle of the day in the small town of Perdido Beach, everyone fifteen and above disappears. They are just gone. All of the children must fend for themselves. Some fall quickly into leadership roles, or criminal roles; one starts looking after the infants and babies, another desperately tries to help the sick and injured. Sam finds himself trying to help Astrid find her younger, Autistic brother, Pete. As if this is not enough, some of the survivors have unexplained powers. Then, a group of students from the imposing Coates College, a private school up the hill where ‘trouble’ children are sent, roll into town and take over. It becomes a battle of good versus evil.
I do love Young Adult novels. I love that they are fast paced and quick to read, and can be very, very full on. The Hunger Games Trilogy was extremely graphic in its violence, and so is this. Grant has not been afraid to have children as evil characters, but the actions of his characters are all very believable in this situation. It is inconceivable that such a situation could actually take place, but I spent time wondering where I would fit in to this scenario. Would I be fighting or looking after children? (Actually, I don’t need to think about that too hard. I’d be with the babies)
There are a lot of rumours online about a film being made of the book, but I could find no actual confirmation on this. It would make a good film, although I think it may be too scary for me to watch.
Gone is the first part of a series, and I am very much looking forward to the second book, Hunger.