Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Where did you get this book: Library
Release date: Available now
This review contains spoilers!
Blurb taken from HarperTeen website:
In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…
I was looking for some new, different YA to read, and a friend recommended Gone to me. I had to admit, I was leery. She told me that the characters were all under fifteen but that she got used to it.
To be quite frank, I never did. The problem for me was that they didn’t sound that young, they read as high school students. I would have been okay with that, but then they would do something (like not know how to drive) that shot back home the fact that they were young. Personally, I would have preferred if the characters were either a little older or if they would have talked more like young teens. I would have even bought the way Astrid “the Genius” talked if everyone else sounded the right age.
Having said that, I like the set up. Removing adults entirely from the equation allows the story to be all about the kids without that question of “why aren’t their parents doing anything?” I also thought the rise of the bullies was done well. While it would have been unbelievable to have the original bully, Orc, take over effectively, bringing in the charismatic Caine from the boarding school let the reader understand how he could take over.
The budding romance between Sam and Astrid was sweet, and I enjoyed watching it unfold. I didn’t see the “why” of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) coming, which is always a nice surprise, especially since it made complete sense.
There were things that bothered me about the plot. I would have liked to have seen the kids without powers really pulling their weight in the big picture, I felt like they were kind of shuffled to the side and then pulled out with an “oh yeah, they need to do something too”. Also (big spoiler here), the “Darkness” was a little too Stephen King for me. I don’t mind stuff like that when I realize going in it’s that type of story, but I felt like it was kind of dumped on me.
Overall, I think the biggest problem for me is this book is billed at young adult, and between the characters’ ages, the main plot themes (standing up to bullies and working together), and the repetitive writing style, it would fit much better as a middle grade title. It’s a tough call for me, but I didn’t love or hate this book. In fact, I recommended it for my fourth grade nephew.
Because it was such a mixed bag, the best I can do is give Gone 3.5 stars.