From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—"One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone." Just vanished—along with everyone else over the age of 13 in a 20-mile radius around Perdido Beach, CA. The children left behind find themselves battling hunger, fear, and one another in a novel strongly reminiscent of William Golding's Lord of the Flies
. Things go from bad to worse when some of the children begin exhibiting strange powers, animals show signs of freakish mutations, and people disappear as soon as they turn 14. Though an excellent premise for a novel, Gone
suffers from a couple of problems. First, it is just too long. After opening with a bang, the initial 200 or so pages limp along before the action begins to really pick up. Secondly, based on the themes of violence, death, and implied sexual intimidation, this is clearly written for an older teen audience who may not appreciate the fact that no one in the book is older than 13. In spite of its faults, Gone
is a gripping and gritty read with enough creepy gruesomeness to satisfy readers who have a taste for the macabre. Give this one to the readers who aren't quite ready for Stephen King or Dean Koontz.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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*Starred Review* It’s a scenario that every kid has dreamed about: adults suddenly disappear, and kids have free reign. In this case, though, it’s everyone 14 and older who disappears, and the harsh reality of such unreal circumstances isn’t a joyride after all. A girl driving with her grandfather plunges into a horrific car wreck; gas burners left on ignite a home with a young child trapped inside; food and medical supplies dwindle; and malicious youths take over as the remaining children attempt to set up some form of workable society. Even stranger than the disappearance of much of humanity, though, are the bizarre, sometimes terrifying powers that some of the kids are developing, not to mention the rapidly mutating animals or the impenetrable wall 20 miles in diameter that encircles them. This intense, marvelously plotted, paced, and characterized story will immediately garner comparisons to Lord of the Flies, or even the long-playing world shifts of Stephen King, with just a dash of X-Men for good measure. A potent mix of action and thoughtfulness—centered around good and evil, courage and cowardice—renders this a tour-de-force that will leave readers dazed, disturbed, and utterly breathless. Grant’s novel is presumably the first in a series, and while many will want to scream when they find out the end is not the end, they’ll be glad there’s more in store. Grades 6-9. --Ian Chipman