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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gone by Michael Grant [Review + Giveaway]

Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Paranormal
Publication.Date  June 24th 2008 (Hardcover edition)
Published By:  Katherine Tegan Books
WebsiteMichael Grant 

My review copy:Review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

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...

This school was dangerous now. Scared people did scary things sometimes, even kids. Sam knew that from personal experience. Fear could be dangerous. Fear could get people hurt. And there was nothing but fear running crazy through the school. 
"Four times you shot lasers out of your hands." Quinn was on the line between laughing and yelling. "I've known you, like, half your life, and now you're the Green Lantern? Right."
It couldn't last. Everyone was just killing time. But if all they did was kill time, time would end up killing them.
She believed in him. She knew he had a destiny.
She wondered why. It wasn't logical, really. She didn't believe in destiny. All her life Astrid had relied on her brain, on her grasp of facts. Now some part of her she barely knew existed, some buried, neglected part of her mind was urging her on - no good reasons, just an instinct that kept pushing her to push him.
But she was sure.
"Sometimes you catch the wave. Sometimes the wave catches you," he said at last.
"It's the FAYZ, Sam. It's not you: it's just the FAYZ." 
"What was it?" Quinn asked.
"A rattlesnake with wings," Sam said.
"Ah. That's good, because I was thinking we didn't have quite enough to be worried about," Quinn said.
"I'm not surprised," Astrid said. When the others stared at her she explained. "I mean, it's ovious that there's some sort of accelerated mutation at work in the FAYZ. In fact, given Petey and Sam and the others, the mutation must have preceeded the FAYZ. But I suspect the FAYZ is accelerating the process. We saw the gull that had mutated. Then there was Albert's teleporting cat. Now this."

     There are certain things that readers might find scary or intimidating about Michael Grant's GONE series. The first thing would most definitely be its length. Six books, well over 500 pages each. Yes, that is intimidating. The second thing? The detailed and quite elaborate maps of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) included at the beginning of each book and the many different faces gracing the covers - both suggesting a complex plot line and rich cast of characters. Also quite intimidating. So if you are worried about it being too long, heavy, convoluted or overwhelming - don't. Grant's breathtaking and brilliantly executed series is completely captivating, suspenseful and intensely readable. You will be flipping through the pages with a lightning-fast speed and - like me - kicking yourself for not picking it up earlier. Plus, you are bound to have some really awesome arm muscles after all that heavy lifting! 

"They're gone. They all just... disappeared."
"What about your teacher?" Edilio said.
"She's gone, too." Astrid said.
"Poof," Quinn said, not giggling, so much now, starting to think maybe it wasn't a joke after all.

     The plot of this incredibly well-thought-out dystopian science fiction novel centres around the town of Perdido Beach - or rather a group of kids and teenagers trapped in it. When one day every person 15 and older disappears without a trace, and those who remain are trapped under some sort of impenetrable dome (or energy barrier), the quiet and remote town quickly descends into chaos. The communication with the rest of the world is cut off - for all they know they might be the only people left in the entire world. There's no television, no cell reception, no internet. And weird and scary things begin to happen: people are developing strange supernatural powers, animals are mutating, food supplies are running low. A group of teenage kids - including Sam Temple, his best friend, Quinn Gaither, a school genius, Astrid Ellison, and a kid who only recently moved to the town, Edilio Escobar - try to make sense of it all. Sam becomes the unofficial leader of the town's kids, giving advices, helping those in need and trying to find answers. The kids must exert themselves to survive, but not all of them realize that yet. Tension rises, conflicts arise, and the situation begins to rapidly deteriorate as people fail to adjust to their new reality. Things get even worse when a group of students from the nearby Coates Academy shows up in town, trying to take over leadership. And like that wasn't enough, there's also an evil presence (also known as the Darkness), lurking in the abandoned mine shaft. 

"You're telling me there's a bunch of uranium under the ground and no one is supposed to think that's dangerous?" Edilio said skeptically.
"A bunch of uranium and one dude's bones," Quinn said. "Welcome to Perdido Beach, where our slogan is "Radiation? What radiation?"

     What an utterly and irresistibly compelling story! Gone has everything I enjoy - and forever look for - in YA. It's a breathless adventure full of awesome characters, mind-blowing plot developments and heart-pounding confrontations. Grant skilfully and effortlessly blends action, drama, horror, science fiction and romance, creating a one-in-a-million, explosive page turner. It's quite a complex story, but thanks to Grant's excellent story telling there's no risk of getting lost or confused. I never - not even once - had any problem understanding or following the plot line. Moreover, the pacing was so good, and the mystery so exciting, it took me merely 2 days to get through this book! 

     I thought the worldbuilding and all the characters were top-notch. The fictional town of Perdido Beach was really well described, I was able to visualize every little detail in my head. And the characters were even better. I loved the fact that Sam was not a stereotypical hero type. He was good looking, but not exactly a "hottie". He was brave and kind, but he also had his darker moments, and he didn't volunteer to be the town's leader, quite the opposite, he did everything he could to avoid this responsibility ("I'm not a leader of anything. I'm as scared as they are. I'm as lost as they are."). I thought he was a realistic and likeable character and though I sometimes found myself itching to slap him, I also thoroughly enjoyed following his adventures. Edilio and Astrid were both really great characters, too, but the one character I loved the most was probably Lana. Not only did she have a really cool and useful superpower, but she was very genuine and sweet. Plus, I absolutely loved her interactions with Edilio. 

     Overall, this was just such a fun, extremely entertaining and intensely gripping story, I really regret not picking it up earlier. At the same time, though, I am glad I didn't, I don't think I'd be able to wait a year for the next instalment without losing my sanity. This series demands to be read back to back. It's addictive, fast-paced, clever, heart pounding, often shocking and emotionally engaging. Its content is definitely on the mature side - there's a lot of darker themes here, some truly violent and terrifying moments, and some absolutely heart-breaking and/or gut-wrenching scenes - but if you enjoy books that are powerful, gritty and completely absorbing - this is the one for you!

What you can win: the entire GONE series - books 1-6! 
Open to: International
Ends: May 15th

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1 comment:

Steph said...

Great review! I like that this was a fun read but intense too. I haven't read any of this series yet, but I'll definitely have to now! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!!

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