Published: July 1st 2008, Harper Teen
Pages: 560 pages, hardback
Acquired: Sent for review by Egmont
Summary (from Goodreads): In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE. Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television.
No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless.
And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...
What I liked: Gone is one of those books that had been sitting on my bookshelf for months, gathering dust, being sadly ignored. I’d picked it up a few times, read the first few pages, been mildly impressed but then moved on to something else.
Eventually I realised I had to just sit down and get going with it. I’d read so many positive reviews of the series that I felt I was missing out but whenever I tried I just couldn’t get into it. I nearly gave up but after being struck down with food poisoning this week (never reheat out of date salmon) I spent the last two bedridden days with my head buried in Gone. Finally.
It’s a brilliant book, it really is and deserves all the praise it’s received. I was worried it would be another overhyped supernatural teen book but Gone is worlds away from that. Grant’s writing is superb – he doesn’t get bogged down with complex sentence structure and hyperbolic waves of description. Instead the language is snappy, straight to the point and does nothing to detract from the stellar plot.
One of the most interesting things Grant tackles is how each character handles the situation. The kids in Gone (none older than 14) are thrust into a completely alien situation that really does bring out the best and worst in each person. Some shine through as absolute stars (I’m looking at you Mother Mary) and some take advantage of the situation and become the bad guys, the criminals, the killers (yes, Orc and co., that was aimed at you).
There are books where the writing is what sucks you in and books where it’s the plot that captures your attention. In Gone it’s definitely the plot. It’s so strong, so well researched and there’s not a plot hole in sight (from what I could see, anyway). The characters are instantly likeable (who doesn’t have a soft spot for Edilio and MacDonald’s Alfred? Oh, and Computer Jack and Mary – see, they’re all awesome) and the villains are fantastic. So hateable, so corrupt but with so much depth. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of affection for Diana and Caine but the true villain in Gone is the twisted, psychopath Drake. Terrifying.
Talking coyotes, flying snakes, some horrific monster in a mine shaft – this is a novel that requires you to suspend your disbelief somewhat and any trace of bad writing could easily break the spell and make you realise that Gone is completely implausible and you are just sitting at home reading a book. However, I was there with Sam, Astrid and co. through thick and thin, through all the twists and turns and, after taking a few hours to digest this wonderful book, I’m ready to tackle the next in the series, Hunger.
What I didn’t like: Gone is quite a hefty book and at 560 pages it does look a little intimidating (absolutely love the coloured pages though), which may be why I put it back on the shelf so many times. The beginning is a little slow and, for me, it did take me a while to get into the story so if you’re about to start reading Gone, don’t be like me and give up on page 20 because you’ll be missing out on a fantastic read.
First line: ‘One minute the teacher was talking about the civil war.’
Read if you liked...: Lord of the Flies – Willian Golding, Unwind – Neal Shusterman
Total: 17/20 (A)