A review by iinavarro
Gone, by Michael Grant

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


This book surprised me in a lot of ways. I found it through someone’s offhand reference on Twitter; they compared it to Hunger Games and Divergent as a YA dystopian book series that has good potential for TV adaptation. In many ways, that’s true (I think it would make a great TV series), but in other ways it reminded me much more of a Stephen King, Lovecraftian horror novel. With some tightening up, I think the series has a lot of potential and I’m excited to read the next one!

Summary: One day, everyone over the age of 14 disappears suddenly. Set in a small beach town, down the coast from a nuclear power plant (uh-oh), the remaining kids work together to survive, navigate emerging power struggles, and make sense of their new world.

What I liked: Overall, the book is well paced and manages the number of characters expertly. There are upwards of 15 named characters and I was impressed that it was easy to differentiate and keep track of them. The description of action, strategy, and ultimately fighting, was also very well done. There were parts of the story that were so cinematic and engaging, I was reminded a lot of IT and Stranger Things. I love how realistic and dark the story gets; it’s a promising premise that I feel pays off with the characters making increasingly terrifying decisions.

What I wish was better: the character growth and complexity was fairly shallow but this may be the result of having so many of them. I felt like the main character, Sam, was a fairly straightforward, overpowered hero and the antagonist was blandly power hungry. Some of the supporting characters, particularly Lana, Jack, and Howard, were better fleshed out in terms of strengths and weaknesses. That said, I think the setting and circumstances give everyone a lot of room for growth and it’ll be interesting to see how they evolve in future books.

Possible triggers: Ableism, the R-word— this book was written in 2009 so the language surrounding neurodivergence and autism specifically is fairly dated. While it’s certainly believable that the characters would say and think the things they do, I still didn’t feel the autistic character (Little Pete) was portrayed very authentically. His description reminded me more of what people think autism is (doesn’t notice other people, doesn’t show affection, hyper focused on preferences) rather than how they actually behave and respond. I know the public’s understanding of autism has grown exponentially in the last decade, so I can certainly suspend my disbelief, but I do hope this character gets stronger development in future books. 

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