I’m always looking for a new book to read, and about a month ago I found Michael Grant’s Gone series. I’m on book 5 (of 6) currently, and they are a wonderful read.
The plot surrounds a fictional community on the coast of California that becomes trapped within a large dome. To add a twist, everyone over the age of 15 disappears as well. The story is very fast-paced, engaging, and entertaining, dealing with how the kids in the dome adapt and struggle to survive. Michael doesn’t shy away from some really horrible thoughts and ideas that, frankly, everyone else seems to avoid because they are uncomfortable. For example, when you watch these apocalypse films, am I the only one that wonders what happens when mom and dad die and the infant doesn’t? Well, this book doesn’t avoid that.
And it’s really hard. Like… uncomfortably hard. Shocking.
But at the same time, I think that’s part of the story and impact of the book. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat the disaster. It’s a disaster, not a love story!
I won’t say more because, really, this is a fantastic story across the board with each book building rapidly into a full-throttled roar that continues to the very end, but you need to know that book 1 is especially hard.
For Parents: These books fall into adolescent lit, and as is typical of the genre include many coming-of-age themes, friendships, betrayals, romance, and questions of authority and place. There are also sexual themes (tastefully done as of book 5). The book is violent, but the violence is not glorified. Michael does bring up many hard topics and does not, as previously mentioned, shy away from death in these books. A LOT of kids die, some through tragedy, some through murder, and some through monsters. The book also deals with racism, though not in a way you’d expect. There are even strong lessons on capitalism, free market, and economics!
The book has strong religious overtones with several characters grappling constantly with their ideas of God and religion and how they relate to God. I would note that those overtones–generally Christian in nature–are not overt and in your face (this isn’t the Left Behind series…).
It has mild language, which I later found out Michael was sad that he didn’t dial up the language some. I admit to being disappointed by that. I was actually impressed that he had crafted such a believable world without having to add the language that is so degrading.
This is not a series I would just leave in the hands of just any child; it’s a hard series that faces many of the angsty questions of youth head on and often with little in the way of definitive answers, and it deserves conversations. It deserves the wheels that will spin in your mind as you consider how you would respond to the situation and the themes. This is a series you talk about. One you learn from.
Rating: A very solid 4 stars! I have rushed through these books with as much anticipation as I felt for Harry Potter or the Mistborn trilogy. The writing is smooth, comfortable, engaging, and thrilling. I’m not kidding when I say that he typically arrives at the climax about mid-book and holds the throttle down to the last page. It can become quite Deus ex Machina in handling the plot as it goes, but it works.
Perhaps the best rating I can give is that I will probably buy them. I don’t buy books anymore unless they mean something big.