By Vincent Lam 9K
First of all, picture this; it’s a normal day in Southern California, 2008 when suddenly – poof! In an instant, teachers disappear in mid-sentence, cars suddenly without their drivers, classrooms half empty and parents at home vanishing; without so much as a puff of smoke. By creating a world of fantasy where kids reign supreme, struggle for power soon ensues and society begins to break down.
Gone – a fiction novel by Michael Grant incorporates all of these elements when suddenly everybody over the age of 15 disappears from the sleepy seaside town of Perdido Beach. If that wasn’t odd enough, an impossible egg-shaped force-field also forms around Perdido Beach and isolates it from the outside world – if there was one left.
As the novel progresses, we meet the kids responsible for the future outcome of Perdido Beach; with the hero Sam Templeton, and his friends Quinn, Edilio and Astrid responsible for keeping the town of Perdido Beach under control. In charge of the young children without parents is “Mother” Mary who works at the local preschool with her younger brother John; Mary however has an eating disorder and takes pills which forces her to throw up the food she eats. Another member of the Perdido Beach community is the highly respected Albert, who opens the local McDonald’s and feeds the local kids. From there, a flash convoy of sleek black cars from the nearby Coates Academy creeps into town and the out of it comes the charismatic, charming Caine Soren. From there, battles to the death ensue as the struggle for power grows stronger, kids go hungry and Perdido Beach is never the same again.
To grab the teen reader’s attention, Grant has produced a story which is a version of a video game in itself; throughout the novel the kids of Perdido Beach begin to demonstrate supernatural powers (laser rays shooting from hands, healing hands, super speed) and mutate (Whip Hand [A thug named Drake] and Gravel Boy [A bully called Orc]). With these abilities, violence is brutal and many are killed during skirmishes for power – these points in particular are the elements which grab teen readers and push them to read more. The ending is surprising as it suggests that something evil is going to happen; which gives reason for the author to write a sequel – in this case being Hunger. Since it is set in an actual town, Gone gives teens some food for thought – if they were to own the Earth, it is a lot harder to run than it looks – it makes them more thoughtful and more forward-thinking.
The theme of this novel shows how much family and friends actually mean to one’s self as throughout the novel, it is evident that the young children begin to yearn for their lost parents, friends and older family members. An example of this from page 549 is when Sam is experiencing the moment where he will live, or disappear forever, “He reacted instinctively, the little boy again, reacted to the ‘mommy’ voice, the ‘obey me’ voice. He reached for her, stretched his hand out to her.”
Personally, I really enjoyed this novel and selected it to read because of recommendations from friends. I have learnt from the novel that too much freedom lays waste to everything and that too much power can also have disastrous consequences. What I liked about the novel was the constant action; it kept me on my toes from the first page till the last. I would recommend this novel as a teen read; more for male readers as violence generally attracts boys; not girls. Since the ending leads onto another novel – Hunger, I actually read it and found it as exciting and fast paced as the first in the series – Gone. To sum this novel up, it was a fantastic read from start to finish.