Gone by Micheal Grant was an interesting concept and I felt intrigued when I had read the plot summery. However, I felt there were major plot holes and some annoyances within the actual writing that made this book much more difficult to get into than I had first imagined. That being said, there were aspects of this book that I felt were very well done such as the other ninety-eight percent of the writing style and the diverse, well rounded characters. I would recommend this book to anyone in the 13 to 16 age range. I give this book a three out of five stars (meaning I might continue the series someday but I doubt that I ever actually will because it just doesn’t excite me.)
Spoiler land mine- Watch where you step if you haven’t read this book!
I’ll start with all the things I liked about this book. I think the character development for all the main characters was brilliant. I loved the diversity of the characters (problem children, socially anxious children, adult-like children, children with autism, children with eating disorders ect.) My favorite character was Diana. Despite being on the “bad” team, she seemed to have a pretty good heart. She understood who she was and was okay with the fact that she wasn’t perfect. Still, when it came down to it, she took care of the sick and injured, showing the good girl buried under the delinquent façade. In fact, Diana reminds me a lot of a young Ridley from the Beautiful Creatures series and the more recent spin-off series Dangerous Creaturesby Margret Stohl and Kimi Garcia. I love the bad girl with a golden heart character type because it seems to be the most fun to read/write.
I liked the fact that Sam, the main protagonist, wasn’t a Gary Sue – in other words a good character with no character flaws who only thinks and does good things. Gary Sues are boring but Sam wasn’t because his character had depth and dimension. After all, he was only a fourteen-year-old. His reluctance to accept leadership and responsibility for all the other kids around is completely expected. If he stood up and instantly took control of the crazy going on around here, it wouldn’t be believable. He admits he’s as afraid of the things going on as the others. He struggles with his powers, which is natural since they are incredibly dangerous. Sam, I felt, was the perfect protagonist.
I thought the moment where Astrid is forced to call her brother a “retard” was an interesting concept. It showed a lot about her character. I mean, she’s an intelligent fourteen-year-old who’s entire life is both burdened and enriched by her autistic brother. She loves him, but she struggles with the responsibilities of caring for him. This is the most realistic scene I have ever read. Grant didn’t sugarcoat anything here. While it hurt as a reader to see her cave and call her brother a “retard” out of fear of being hurt and anger that her brother’s autism prevented him from conveying any sign of caring for her plight, it seemed like the natural response. It was believable, which is the most important thing about a character.
Now, there were a lot of things I took issue with about this book that ultimately lowered my rating of it. First of all, I had a hard time getting into the story. I think that the main reason is that all the characters are so young that the way things were handled was juvenile. I read somewhere that the best age range for a book is the age of the main character or a couple years younger. However, there were descriptions in this book that I felt helped the story apply to a few ages above the main character. I understand that the entire premise of the book was a dystopian world run by kids and I felt that was well done. I just felt like, as twenty-year-old woman, I struggled to connect to the thought process of the characters as they tried to restore order.
Within the writing itself, there was one thing that was done in this book that I found so annoying it set my teeth on edge. That was the repetition of some of the lines. I mean, literally repetition. Once, I could understand because not everything is caught by the editors and sometimes repetition can create dramatic effect. Such as on the top of page 124 where it reads, “He wanted to yell to her to step back from the edge. But she couldn’t hear him. He yelled up at her, but she couldn’t hear him.” These lines were next to each other and I found it very jarring as a reader. I found four or five other occasions of similar repetition. It really didn’t help with the intensity of the moment. In fact, it destroyed it. I get it. He yelled, she couldn’t hear him.Done. Move on.
The other problem I had was that Astrid within the first few moments of people disappearing, figures out that everyone fifteen and older is gone. She’s basing this off of a few of the students within the school who vanished. I get that she’s a genius but that is the largest assumption/sudden conclusion of all time. It’s not possible. I don’t care who you are. That bothered me so much I actually set the book down and didn’t pick it up again for two days.
I felt like a large part of the problem with this book is that there was a lot of characters who weren’t important to the storyline. Perhaps they become more and more important in the later books but, as it stands at the end of this book, I feel like the plot would have done just as well without them. The same can be said for many of the events that occurred within this plot such as the fact that Sam and Caine are brothers and that animals are mutating. While they were interesting concepts, I don’t see how these facts furthered the plot line at all. Even the coyotes whoattacked en masse at the end could have been done without. It added too much chaos, in my opinion.
The most interesting plot concept in this book that would entice me to continue is the idea that something is luring the fifteen-year-olds out of the FAYZ. The scary thing with the teeth is the thrilling part of this thriller. If I read on, it’s to see that mystery unfold.
Honestly, it gave me goose bumps when Jack asked what that thing with the teeth was. Anyone else?