Gone by Michael Grant
|Gone by Michael Grant
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: A real page-turner with a great number of contemporary references from Heroes to Stephen King. The central characters is very strong and particularly engaging. It comes perilously close to Bookbag's hated cliffhanger ending, but wraps enough plot strands to avoid Bookbag's censure. Michael Grant has been chatting to us about the Gone TV show.
|Date: April 2009
One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.
No 'poof'. No flash of light. No explosion.
And gone along with him is every other person over fourteen in Perdido Beach. Only the children are left. Suddenly, it's a world without adults and everyone, including the unattainable Astrid, is looking to Sam for answers. Sam is a natural leader, but it's not something he wants to admit to himself. He prefers to sink into the background and lead a quiet life. This time though, he may have no choice but to step up to the plate. The shining light he conjured from nowhere and hid inside his wardrobe is enough to tell him that. And when a predatory gang of teenagers from a private school appear in Perdido Beach, Sam realises he's not the only one with new and hidden powers...
Good lord in heaven, there's a bit of everything in Gone. The obvious reference for young readers is the hit TV show Heroes, with obvious nods to The X-Men, Lord of the Flies, and a whole plethora of kids-with-special-powers novels. But you can also see references to real life social phenomena and political events. I particularly enjoyed the Stephen King-style arc in which a dark force lurks in an abandoned gold mine, overseeing and influencing events in a maniacally unpleasant way. It's all very reminiscent of The Stand.
But the main thrust is a reluctant hero adventure, in which Sam needs to rise to his challenges. And Sam is a rather marvellous reluctant hero. He's given a very subtle treatment by Grant, and by the end of the novel, he has become a tremendously attractive central character with great charisma. It looks as though we'll get sequels, and I shall be interested to see how he develops.
It's a whopping 550 pages, Gone, but Grant has a no-nonsense, efficient prose style and this brick of a book disappears in no time. Because of this, and because it's so contemporary and because it features children of all ages, not just teens, I'd happily recommend it to keen readers of late primary school age as well as older teens, but nervous parents should note that there's a fair amount of gore and a good dollop of existential shivering. For me, it finishes with too many loose ends, and too many flags for a possible sequel, but to Grant's credit, he does avoid the dreaded cliffhanger and thus Bookbag's censure. But we are left with more questions than answers.
Gone buys into many areas of current interest, it has a top-notch central character, and it doesn't try too hard and so lose focus in its plot-driven narrative. I think it's going to go down very well indeed.
My thanks to the nice people at Egmont for sending the book.
Thematically, they might also enjoy The Inferior by Peadar ó Guilín or The Rule of Claw by John Brindley. Stylistically, the voracious readers will engage just as enthusiastically with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a dystopian thriller with just as many nods to multi-media influences. You might enjoy The 100 by Kass Morgan but we had some reservations.
You can read more book reviews or buy Gone by Michael Grant at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Gone by Michael Grant at Amazon.com.
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