Thursday, September 16, 2010
I was a Goner in Only Five Pages!
One would think with the crazy first weeks of school, I would have no time to plow through an almost 600 paged book, but Gone, by Michael Grant, does not give you the opportunity to put it down. From the first five pages, this book grabs you by the seat of the pants and hurls you through a creepy post-apocalyptic world where all people over the age of 14 simply disappear- *poof* and gone.
Sam, also known as School Bus Sam after he rescued his school bus full of kids when the driver had a heart attack, was once a hero, but has faded back into the wallflower he is happiest being. When all the adults and kids over 14 disappear in Perdido Beach, though, Sam is the one all the other kids start looking to for guidance. No one know what happened to the adults, but right in front of their eyes, they all just disappeared. Sam is reluctant to be their leader, but when he rushes into a burning building to save a little girl, it is clear heroism is simply in his nature. With the help of his friends, Astrid, Edilio, and Quinn, they set off to find Astrid's autistic little brother and hopefully some adults. What they find, however, is that a giant, electrified border has made a circle around the whole area- exactly a 10 mile radius all around the nuclear power plant. Nothing can come in and no one can get out. Something strange is also happening to everything and everyone living within the wall. The animals are mutating and some of the kids are starting to develop powers.
The real showdown, however, starts when the Coates Academy kids (a school for delinquent rich kids) come down from the school to take over as leaders of Perdido Beach. Their leader, Caine, is all too willing to use his powers to gain control or let his evil sidekick, Drake, wield his menacing punishments. Kids are beaten to death for defying Caine's rules, food is an ever-growing concern, and safety becomes a luxury. Can Sam come to terms with his own power? Can he, with the support of his friends, become a true leader among the kids inside the wall?
This is an amazing story about kids forced to grow up quickly. When they have to defend themselves with guns found at the power plant, Sam finds himself struggling with the idea of asking 8th graders to wield guns while being horrified at asking a 5th or 6th grader to defend themselves. This story has a lot of Lord of the Flies themes as civilized life quickly breaks down. The lead characters are the embodiment of good and evil, with consciences and cravings for power being the ultimate battle. Kids are quickly given roles of nurse, day care operator, guard, and cook. These same kids had parents and adults to take care of them not 24 hours earlier. It is a harsh new world where anything is possible.
The reading level is relatively accessible, but the story is very, very long. It is action packed and there isn't a dull moment in the whole story, but 500+ pages is a lot to ask of a middle school student. Therefore, I would save this great story for an older kid who reads a lot or is really into this type of story. It might overwhelm a struggling reader who isn't ready for such a long book. Otherwise, I would suggest everyone give this book a try! It has a little bit of everything from an apocalypse to supernatural powers! You can't ask for much more! Just be careful when picking up the next two books. The second book is Hunger, and the third is Lies. I accidentally picked up the third book and ruined a little of the second story before I even got a chance to read it! Oh well. It won't stop be from reading the next two books!!