Saturday, December 22, 2012

Don't Fear this Series

Fear: A Gone Novel
There is nothing more controlling and irrational than fear. You would think the kids in the FAYZ would have nothing left to fear after the gaiaphage, a kid with a whip hand, a girl who can make you think you are suffering your worst fears, murderous bugs the size of cars, and life without the adults who should be taking care of them, but they have never experienced real fear. In the fifth installment of Michael Grant's Gone Series, Fear, we get a taste of just how much terror is too much.

Sam, Edilio, and Dekka have made as stable of a life as they can in the FAYZ. They moved to the lake where they have plenty of water and houseboats to hide on in case of an emergency. Caine is now calling himself King Caine and ruling with the madness he has become known for. But some alliances have changed. Quinn organizes the fishing for both camps, Albert (who was always out for himself) deals to both sides, and Diana, now pregnant, has left Caine to live with Sam and the others at the lake. But the most painful is Astrid's abandonment. She left Sam and everyone else who reminded her about how she sacrificed her little autistic brother Petey to stop the bugs from annihilating the kids at Perdido Beach. But oddly, even with the division, this is most stability the FAYZ has ever seen. That is, until the dome starts to go dark.

The stain is slowly creeping up the dome and threatens to plunge the entire place into complete darkness. It takes everything Sam can do to keep the kids from panicking, but with the coyotes becoming desperate and Drake "Whip Hand" Merwin skulking about, there are reasons to be afraid of pure darkness. Sam can hang as many "Sammy Suns" (little orbs of light from his powers) as he wants, but it won't save hem from the crushing darkness. And now that Drake and the gaiaphage think Diana's baby is the key to giving the gaiaphage a body, there is more at risk than anyone can possibly understand. And that is only what is happening on the inside of the dome. On the outside? People are prepared to do unspeakable things to stop what they fear is inside from getting out. Even if that means sacrificing everyone inside the dome.

Oh boy. Boy, oh boy. This series doesn't just age well like cheese, it transforms with each book into a mind-blowing experience where you find yourself asking, "How can Grant do that? Did he really just go there?! What, for the love of all that is holy, is happening?!" Five books in and this series simply doesn't get old. It doesn't get predictable. It knocks your socks off with each new installment. It is, quite simply, brilliant. Of course, the story does get darker with each new book, and Grant doesn't pull any punches with the kids in the FAYZ, but if I know anything about teenagers (and I certainly hope I do after ten years teaching in a high school), it is how much they appreciate an author who trusts his or her readers to experience a serious story. They like an author who doesn't hold back just because this is a young adult series. And most of all, they like a story that will shock them with every turn. Well, here it is!

Last year, I had been telling a 9th grade student of mine about this series. He loves graphic novels, but doesn't read full length novels outside of literature class. I told him about the story and then the year continued. Then, at our Parents' Weekend, his mother tracked me down to tell me he devoured the first four books of this series. She told me these are the first books she had seen him actually enjoy reading, and she was thankful I had mentioned them to him, because, in her words, her son was now "a reader". It was amazing to hear that we had finally found a series of books he could enjoy at that level, but more importantly, Michael Grant made him a reader. If that isn't a solid endorsement for this groundbreaking series, I am not sure what is! So if you have a kid out there who just needs to find the right series to make them a reader, consider Gone. It might be just the thing that kid needs to become a book lover!

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