Monday, August 9, 2010
After initially happily gorging themselves on candy bars and ice cream, the kids start to panic as time goes on and 14 year old Sam seems a natural choice for leader. Sam is reluctant to take on the mantle of hero though, and in sweep a group of kids from the exclusive Coates Academy, led by the darkly charismatic Caine. This sets up a war for control of the Fallout Alley Youth Zone, with the “good” Perdido Beach kids against the “evil” Coates kids and Sam and Caine in a rush to gain power before each of them also turns 15 and go “poof”.
GONE has me completely torn. It’s daring and compelling with perfect pacing and twists and turns galore, but it is frustratingly lacking in certain areas of character development. It takes itself very seriously, yet it often times comes off as seriously silly.
I’ve never done this before, but the best way to express my thoughts on this one is to do lists of the good, the bad and the unforgivable.
- Grant sets up a question that I want to know the answer to: How do people disappear when they are 15 and is there any way to remain past that cutoff date? Using chapter headings that are a countdown to Sam’s 15th birthday, Grant imbues the narrative with a real sense of urgency that kept me frantically turning the pages. And the best part is that although this is the first book of a (LONG 6 book) series, I did get at least some closure and some satisfying answers.
- Grant keeps it real (well, in one aspect of it all anyway): A world where all adults disappear is no picnic. And although its’ similarity to LORD OF THE FLIES is one of the main reasons I initially avoided this (been there, done that), Grant does not shy away from the terrible consequences such a world would have. For example: though Sam’s crush Astrid has the foresight to look for her autistic younger brother, by the time the kids think of doing a house by house search for toddlers and babies left behind, the results are gruesome.
- Out all the characters, I liked Lena and her dog Patrick the most. Lena’s background and solitary journey is very different , and I was most intrigued by her story and her “superpower” (once I finally accepted that superpowers were going to be part of the story, like it or not) … well, until her encounter with the talking wolves….
Which brings me to THE BAD:
- Evil talking wolves! Every scene with the talking wolves made me laugh hysterically, which I am guessing wasn’t the intention. Also the idea of a big bad power lurking in an abandoned mine? Also came off as laughably lame.
- Sam’s friend Quinn. Lily-livered and way too fond of the word “brah”.
- Caine is such a stock villain, it hurts. He’s the most powerful of all the kids (or so he believes) and is the personification of “power corrupts”. In this installment, he doesn’t have any layers (maybe he adds some as the series goes on, but dudes! This is a chunkster of a book – give the boy some layers already!) Yes, we see a couple of motivations for his hated of Sam, but they are your standard villain fare. Boring.
And THE UNFORGIVABLE: