Gone Review
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Lately, I’ve been picking up a lot of new kids’ book series. Perhaps it’s just because I miss Harry Potter—or maybe it’s because The Boy Wizard once again opened my eyes to the joys of books for younger readers. But, whatever the reason, I’ve definitely found a lot of great new books along the way.

Michael Grant’s Gone is the first in the series of teen books about a group of kids who are forced to fend for themselves when all of the adults in their small California town suddenly disappear. One minute, they’re daydreaming through their classes. The next minute, their teachers and parents—anyone over 14—are all just gone.

As the children of Perdido Beach wander toward the town square, many look to local hero Sam Temple to figure out what to do. But Sam’s just as scared and confused as the rest of them—and he’s not sure that he wants to be in charge.

  
 
While Sam and his best friend, Quinn, try to help their brainy classmate, Astrid, find her autistic little brother, the school’s bullies take over. They’re soon joined by a whole new set of leaders—kids from the nearby prep school. But Sam has more than just bullies to worry about—because he knows that there’s much more to the newly-dubbed FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) than most people realize.

At first glance, Gone may sound a bit like Lord of the Flies in 21st-century California—but the story’s creepy sci-fi twists make it more than just another modern-day rehashing of a classic novel. There’s something strange going on in Perdido Beach—and the local nuclear power plant seems to be right in the center of it all.

For this first novel in the series, though, the story focuses less on the cause and more on the characters. Reluctant hero Sam may be the story’s main character (and an extremely likeable one at that), but you’ll get to know many of the other Perdido Beach kids along the way—especially those who try to keep order by taking charge of the daycare and the doctor’s office and even the McDonald’s. And then there are the bullies—both those from town and those who come down the hill from the prep school to take control.

The tension between the two groups begins building almost immediately, and it never lets up—and that’s pretty surprising, when you consider that this is a 550-page novel. But there’s really never a dull moment in Gone. In fact, there’s so much conflict and so much suspense that it constantly feels as though the story’s big climax is just around the corner—and that makes it a difficult book to set aside.

Though some of the story’s twists take a little getting used to, Gone is a solid teen novel—one that will appeal to a much wider audience. It’s filled with action and suspense, as well as a whole town full of interesting characters—and I can’t wait to see what comes next for the kids in the FAYZ.

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