Review: As a fan of the dystopian genre, I had high expectations for Michael Grant’s GONE, the titular novel in his current 6-book series. However, if you’ve already read a stellar dystopian series like Hunger Games, it’s hard not to draw comparisons and determine where Mr. Grant has fallen short: a dragging plot, poor character development, unauthentic dialogue and – most annoying - key thematic elements that are left unaddressed . In general, reactions to this book in our group ranged from absolutely boring to mildly entertained, but proof’s in the pudding when most of our members didn’t bother to finish the book (or even get past the halfway mark).
As outlined in the summary above, the story follows what happens when everyone above the age of 15 disappears and the kids of Perdido Beach are left to fend for themselves. Surrounded by an impenetrable force-field, the older kids - comprised of main characters Sam, Astrid, Quinn and Edilio - do their best to ration food and maintain order in the post-Phase world, struggling against animals that have developed advanced predatory mutations while some of the kids themselves have evolved newly-developed superpowers. Add to the mix a climactic power struggle when the super-powered and morally-flawed prep-schoolers of Coates Academy –led by Caine, their equally charismatic and masochistic leader - descend on the survivors at Perdido Beach, and you’ve got a pretty interesting story (at least on the surface). But then again….
Perhaps my biggest disappointment is the author’s negligence to address two of the most prevalent questions posed throughout the book: 1) Why do kids disappear when they turn 15? What’s so special about that particular age? & 2) What is the sinister creature that lives in the cave and what are its motives? If Mr. Grant had given more development to those two subjects, especially in the last few chapters to build up some semblance of suspense, then maybe I’d have some interest in the following books. In fact, it’s as if the last few chapters lose all the steam the book has worked to build. Mr. Grant has the perfect opportunity to set up a classic cliffhanger ending, one that ideally SHOULD make you want to go and devour the next book (aptly named “Hunger”) immediately; instead, the final scene of the book shows Caine, tired and beaten, shuffling off into the desert with the retreating coyote pack. Bad guys defeated. A decidedly tired and predictable ending.
Whether it was the lack of plot resolution, uninteresting characters, terribly-written dialogue – or a combination of all three - I had only *just* enough interest to finish the book and no particular craving to continue the series.
Bottom Line: Having finished the book three weeks prior to writing this review, I can only say it’ll keep your attention long enough (for most readers) to reach the last page, but there won’t be many moments worth remembering when you’re done. Grade: Solid “C”.