Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gone, by Michael Grant - a fantastic sci-fi adventure for teens

Imagine all the adults in your life suddenly disappear. Isn't that every teen's fantasy? Leave me alone - I know how to take care of it all by myself! That's where this amazing book Gone starts, and oh what a ride it is. I highly recommend it to any teen who loves science fiction or realistic fiction - my only caveat is that it's a long book, so you have to be ready to dive in.
by Michael Grant
NY: HarperCollins, 2008.
ages 12 and up
568 pages (!)
Gone sucked me in from the very beginning. I was caught - completely immersed in this imaginary world where the kids are in charge. Here, read the first page:
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.

Sam Temple was sitting in third-period history class staring blankly at the blackboard, but far away in his head. In his head he was down at the beach, he and Quinn. Down at the beach with their boards, yelling, bracing for that first plunge into cold Pacific water.

For a moment he thought he had imagined it, the teacher disappearing. For a moment he thought he'd slipped into a daydream.

Sam turned to Mary Terrafino, who sat just to his left. "You saw that, right?"

Mary was staring hard at the place where the teacher had been.
Sam starts exploring first his school and then the town. The grownups have all completely disappeared. The kids who are 13 and 14 are the oldest kids around, and so have to start figuring things out. What do they do with kids who are hurt? What about the daycare center full of babies and toddlers without any teachers? What about the kids who are raiding the grocery stores? The excitement quickly turns to fear as a fire starts in a building near the daycare center.

The kids soon realize that they are completely by themselves without computers or cell phones, and without any sign of rescue. They are trapped inside a force field barrier that surrounds the town, and whatever caused this is also causing mutations in birds and animals - along with some strange powers in some of the children. Soon, a band of kids from an exclusive prep. school outside of the town come down - they want to be the leaders. One of the reviews for Gone describes the book as Lord of the Flies written by Stephen King. This video trailer gives you a sense of the drama and excitement.

I couldn't put this book down. Even though it's a long book (over 500 pages), I read it in a week - literally at every chance I got! I really liked the suspense - it turns out that Sam's 15th birthday (when everyone disappears) is in just a few days. The relationships between the kids appealed to me; I liked the way the friendship and then romance developed between Sam and Astrid. I found the characters well developed and interesting. I think this book would be a hit with girls and boys, grades 7 and up.

The sequel, Hunger, has just come out and I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

See some other reviews on the web:
That Teen Can Blog: "a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way."
The Tainted Poet: "This book describes how people change when cornered with a crisis; how their true forms emerge and how they bloom to meet the task at hand."
Jen Robinson: "I will be astonished if this book isn't made into a movie at some point." Hen just reviewed Hunger - you can see her post here.

This copy of Gone was recommended to me and purchased at Kepler's Books, a wonderful independent bookstore in Menlo Park, CA. You can find Gone at your local public library, at an independent bookstore near you, or on Amazon.

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