Michael Grant's Gone is a book that I knew I had to have, as soon as I read the brief description on Anokaberry. It falls squarely into my favorite sub-genre, dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults, though with a few twists. The story begins in a small town on the central California coast. One day, all of a sudden, everyone aged 15 and over simply vanishes. Gone. The kids who remain discover that a huge, impenetrable wall surrounds their town (and a circular area about 20 miles in diameter). They can't get out. No one else can get in. There are no adults. And the kids have reason to believe that as each turns 15, they, too, will disappear.
Various power struggles soon emerge, first between the kids from the town (Perdido Beach), and then between the town kids and the students from a local boarding school. As if this weren't compelling enough, some of the kids demonstrate special powers (think Heroes), and some of the local animals display strange mutations. You see why I couldn't resist? This is an irresistible premise and setting. The plot is fast-faced and compelling. The characterization is excellent, too. The kids have talents and insecurities and relationship conflicts. The primary hero, Sam, is a natural-born leader who resists taking charge. He's joined by other strong, interesting characters.
Although Gone is a long book, it moves quickly, and I read the whole thing in a single day. Each chapter has, instead of a title, a countdown to how long it will be until Sam turns 15. This device ratchets up the suspense. I didn't realize until I got to the end of the book that Gone is the first book in a series, but I've since learned that six books are planned. I was a little disappointed at first, that things weren't wrapped up, because I felt so invested in the book. But now that I've had some time to think about it, I'm glad that I'll have the chance to revisit Perdido Beach and its intriguing inhabitants. I will be astonished if this book isn't made into a movie at some point. Gone is not to be missed for fans of the genre. And it just might be the book to bring new teen readers into the dystopia/post-apocalypse fold, too. Highly recommended.
Publication Date: June 24, 2008
Source of Book: Bought it
Other Blog Reviews: Teen Book Review, The YA YA YAs, Book Envy, The Book Muncher, TeenReads.com, Reading Keeps You Sane, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Karin's Book Nook, Alternative Worlds, Pink Me
Author Interviews: YA New York
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