Boxcar children meet Lord of the Flies.

In  what  I hope to be a bi-weekly series,  today, I’m going to talk about the book or series I’m reading and share thoughts on if you too should pick it or skip it.

This week:

Gone (series) by Michael Grant

Verdict:  Pick it.

If you don’t want some of the plot reveal now, just stop reading and go buy the book. You won’t regret it. I swear. 

The Gone series follows a group of  Perdido beach (Cali surfers)  kids who are wasting another day in school when everyone 15 or older disappears. Simultaneously, walls appear, trapping the now adult-less kids in their hometown.

Shenanigans ensure.

Puppy love.

Adventures.

Everyone rising to the occasion and caring for themselves.

Or they might, if this had been handled by another writer.

Left alone, the now “adults” 11-14 year-olds handle the burden about as well as you think children would handle it, piss poorly. Grant apparently feels that unlike many a happy children left of their own adventure story, little children would not be able to keep up with the complex infrastructure they were accustomed to. Most freak out about caring for their younger children. They squabbled. They engorge on candy while a few try to figure out the chaos.

Add in  mutant powers (and the societal unrest it brings to the normal children)  and an evil nuclear space monster (it’s more plausible than you think) and you have the perfect setting for a distopian novel.

The slow descent of many of the character into adult vices, drugs and alcohol abuse, depression, bigotry and even cannibalism is what makes this novel so interesting and yet at times so difficult to read. Take the tale  of Mary, the young woman who ends up caring for the children.  An all around likable character, and beloved by the town, by the third novel she is unrecognizable.  The constant stress of caring for the young  drives her back to former demons (anorexia and bulimia). To cope with her eating disorder, she start popping pills like a pro. This descends her into madness culminating with her plan to save the children, by committing mass suicide. Though the plan is thwarted, Mary takes the leap and disappears.

Extremely disturbing to the reader at times, the complex nature of this, loss of childhood innocence coupled with the rises of the human spirit make this gloom and doom series hard to put down.  In fact, I just ordered the fourth book off of Amazon today.

This book series isn’t for everyone. It isn’t a light and breezy feel-good book. The characters aren’t black and white but rather tragically human, trying just to survive though knowing they probably won’t and often times giving into the weight of that knowledge.

There are a few issues in this book with pacing. Long drawn out passages and frequent perspective switching are at time distracting, though nothing unforgivable.

If you liked Hunger Games or the Divergent series, give this series a try. You won’t be sorry.

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