A review by ricksilva
Gone by Michael Grant

adventurous dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


This starts out as kind of a Rapture-scenario: People vanish in an instant. In this case, everyone over the age of 14. But as the story develops, it turns out that the effect is localized, not worldwide, and the town of (lovely) Perdido Beach, California, is cut off from the world by an impenetrable barrier. So, really, it's Under the Dome. With kids. With superpowers. Oh, and mutant animals, because why not?

The setup is perhaps a bit overcomplicated, but the author does a nice job of working through the implications of all of this stuff happening at once. There are bullies who take over, only to get displaced by yet-more-evil bullies (we know they're more evil because these are private school bullies from the local boarding school for entitled troublemakers). The bullies soon become full-on comic book villains, complete with imperilment of the heroes' friends and loved ones, scheming and infighting, and the occasional good guy proclaiming that "it's a trap!"

Reluctant hero Sam and smart-girl Astrid take a long time to decide to fight back against the bullies, and they really have a hard time getting anything resembling a win, although they do somewhat pull things together in the climactic bit. Nobody is really all that competent at what they are trying to do, which is part of the point, since they're all just a bunch of middle school kids.

Really, what saves the story are some of the minor characters who mostly stay out of the fighting, but instead work hard to make sure the younger kids are taken care of and that everyone gets fed. I'd read an entire novel about Albert, the kid who, in the midst of the vanishing of all adults and the apparent collapse of civilization, takes it upon himself to keep the town's McDonald's up and running. This guy was the real hero of this story. More Albert, please.

Which we might get, because the book ends with the initial battle over, but without all that much resolved. 

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