“Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
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 grows stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.”
I love getting into a new series when they’re about to release the last book. Especially when the series turns out to be quite enjoyable. Like Michael Grant’s Gone series.
Admittedly, I’ve never really thought about picking up the book at all, if it weren’t for an acquaintance’s recommendation. No, it’s not the story I had a problem with, the not-picking-up-the-book part? That was literal. I’ve never actually gotten to the part where I’ve read the synopsis at the back.
So what put me off? What else? The cover. Released during the heyday of Gossip Girl and the likes, the Gone series looked like it belonged in that genre. And that genre never appealed to me.
Well, there is a reason why we have the saying “don’t judge the book by its cover.”
Sure, Gone isn’t exactly ground-breaking. It’s teens with superpowers. Sounds familiar? Of course it would. It’s one of the most popular trope in the current landscape of the young adult genre. And it doesn’t even utilize the super power trope all that well in this book. In fact, I’ll even say that the powers aren’t all that important in this book at all.
But what makes this book work is because the author created characters that actually breathe. Michael Grant introduces us to a high school of stereotypes, and turns that around in its head before the first chapter ends.
We have two central characters–the reluctant leader, Sam, and the charismatic Caine. And around them, we have other characters that are split into two camps: the kids of Perdido Beach, and the ones who are still in Coates Academy.
Notice how I didn’t say main character. That’s because while Sam and Caine are important in the fabric of the story, their main character status is on the same level as many of the other characters. It’s an ensemble cast.
Now, I know that stories with an ensemble cast of characters have a tendency to be hard to follow. That was the case against The Casual Vacancy. But the difference here is, there’s a common goal among many of the characters–and Sam and Caine clearly stands out as the characters whose journeys we’re supposed to follow.
A journey that, I felt, could have done without the super powers. At least, in this book.
Oh sure, the powers are integral to the story. Especially having read the second book and seeing where that plot thread is headed. But with this book in particular, I thought the disappearance of adults, getting cut off from the world, and the new world order that comes from that is interesting enough without the super powers subplot. And it is, I feel, nothing but subplot and eye-candy in this book.
Of course, if you take out the powers in this book, it’s not like it can just pop up in the books that follow. It’s just that–I do wonder how Michael Grant would’ve handled the Lord of the Flies problem with today’s kids. It’s just that we get glimpses of it–but the intricacies of a kid-run nation gets overshadowed a lot of the times by the need to address the superpowers.
But that’s just me seeing a different avenue of storytelling for the Gone series. It’s great as it is, and I’m sure it’s just going to keep getting better.
Well, I hope.