Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review(s): Gone and Hunger

Title(s) Gone and Hunger (Books 1 and 2 of the "Gone" Series)
Author Michael Grant
Genre YA Science Fiction
Category Dystopic Fiction
Rating A

Summary A mysterious and inpenetrable dome appears surrounding a 10-mile radius sphere of land, centered around a power plant, and all adults (and teens over the age of 14) disappear in an instant. The kids left behind in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) have to figure out how to survive--survive their loneliness, survive the bullies scrabbling for power, survive their hunger, oh yeah, and survive the raging battle between two factions of kids that reaches epic proportions as some of the kids find out they have supernatural powers. Let the carnage begin.

First Line (of Gone) "One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone."

Review(s) And the action takes off at a gallop right off the bat. No diddling around with setting up the scene or introducing characters, all back story is woven right into the prose and dialogue. Very nice, Mr. Grant. Well played.

Here's an example of Grant's spectacular-ness: this book is 558 pages and I read it in one day (and then went back to Barnes & Noble at 9:30 p.m. to pick up the second book in the series, Hunger, because I was hooked). Very nice, Mr. Grant.

Here's another example of Grant's amazing-ness: In addition to the kids developing mutant powers, some animals around the FAYZ are mutating as well, and I couldn't help but feel that, even though the idea of flesh-eating worms was definitely science fiction, it was so well-realized in Grant's descriptions that I was creeped out for a couple of days, thinking there might be flesh-eating worms lurking in the grass. Seriously his science fiction is so real (as real as it can be) that it sinks into you. I found myself thinking about it for days afterward. It felt, to me, like reading Stephen King (most notably Needful Things).

Here's another example of Grant's awesome-ness: There were times that I wanted to cry. I read the last line of Hunger and actually thought, "Oh my God, what's she going to do?" That's not blasphemy, I was actually crying out to God (okay, maybe not really). The characters are so richly-drawn that you come to understand their inner-workings (which Grant allows to happen by using alternating POV's... tons of them... so you see each kid's thought process) and you nearly feel for them. It's almost too much to bear.

Here's the one teeny-tiny flaw in the series: Grant included back story from Gone in Hunger to catch up any late-comers who didn't read the first book in the series. I hate that. Just write them and trust that people will read the books in the series in order. I didn't need stuff re-explained and you could have probably lopped off 25 pages (of the very weighty 590-page second book in the series). I do have to hand it to Grant, though, he didn't do an information dump and just put it all in the outset--he sprinkled it throughout as needed. That made it ever-so-slightly more bearable.

One final comment on this series (of which there are two more in the works): I applaud Grant for being able to keep things pretty PG-13. The language and amorous feelings are PG and the action is pretty intense (I'll be honest, there is a lot of death in these books), but it's done well in my opinion. I'm getting the impression that Grant might be a Catholic, I could be wrong, so be advised if you hate religious parallels in your reading because they're there.

Recommendation Fans of Stephen King (and his upcoming book looks like an adult version that carries a lot of dome-related similarities) will enjoy this YA series.


Carrie K. said...

I read the first book last year - and I really need to get to the sequel - it sounds just as good!

Andrea said...

I loved both those books although I was disturbed by all the violence and I'm not one to get that way. It's just kids, you know.

Literature Crazy said...


I agree, knowing it was kids did kind of make it different than your usual "garden-variety" violence. Definitely harder to read.

Gabi said...

I love all the charactors names, and how they play in with the story. Sam and Caine are both biblical, and both of them act like their namesakes in the bible. But other names he has I've never heard of- from Dahra to Edilio and then it goes back to old names you haven't heard in forever- Diana, Jack and Astrid being good examples. I think that both books are amazing, and can't wait for the rest of the series, and thank Michael Grant for helping me get over my Potter-obsession- though this will ne'er be quite AS good as J.K.