Light: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant – Endgame

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I waited impatiently for Amazon to deliver my copy of Light. It took them ages after first telling me that the marketplace seller had no more copies and that I’d have to order another one. It finally came on Saturday and I’ve now finished the last Gone novel.

It is bittersweet this final book. Not just in the way the FAYZ ends, but in the knowledge that characters that I grew to love and fear will never return. Grant drew portraits of his Perdido Beach kids that rang true, deep, and varied. They all seemed real, even the “moofs” who despite their super-powers were full of character and depth.

In Light, the kids have reached what they refer to as “the endgame.” It has become a battle between the gaiaphage who has taken human form in the shape of Diana‘s and Caine’s “love child” and is now known as Gaia. Gaia has all of the powers of the other “moofs” and is growing at an inhuman rate of speed.

Which is fitting considering that she is not human at all. Despite her human birth, she really is a product of the gaiaphage that is in reality a virus from another planet.

Sam and Caine join forces to defeat Gaia and the other super powered children gather to help the brothers to defeat her. Even “The Healer” Lana joins the ranks in the final battle.

Gaia decides to lay waste to the land in the bubble surrounding Perdido Beach to aid her in the quest to destroy the entire planet. The only thing she fears is Little Pete, Astrid’s dead brother. who has managed to survive his body’s death and remain in ethereal form in the FAYZ. Gaia calls him nemesis and she is terrified that he will take human form and destroy her.

As the barrier gets thinner and more people from the outside world witness the death and destruction taking place on the inside of the barrier, opinion goes against the survivors of the FAYZ. The retribution that Sam has feared from the very start now seems very real and if he survives the final battle with Gaia he will have to face his accusers.

Light brings an end to the Gone saga and like the rest of the novels, it entertains and excites. All the characters face their own personal Armageddon as the endgame reaches its inevitable conclusion. While the “good-guys” team up to kill Gaia, she relies on the help of her mother Diana and Drake ‘whip-hand’ Merwin (who still shares the same corporeal space as Brittney the religious zealot).

I will miss the entire crew, Sam, Quinn, Albert, Caine, Diana, Edilio, Astrid, Little Pete, Bug, Orc, Dekka, Brianna (the Breeze), Taylor, Jack and all the other guys and girls who make up the beleaguered and embattled citizenry of Perdido Beach. But the ending of their story is just as brilliant as the rest of the books and Grant gives us a 5 star dynamite conclusion.

If you’ve read the Gone novels, don’t miss this one. If you haven’t? What are you waiting for? Unlike Trix, Gone is not just for kids.

Author Michael Grant
Author Michael Grant

Vampires Don’t Sparkle by Michael West: A Blood-soaked Bonanza

VDS-Cover-SmallI have to admit that I had given up on the world of vampire literature. Thanks to a suburban housewife in America, vampires had become a race of sulking, bloodless, pedophiles who glittered in the sun like cheap dime store jewellery.

In the sun??

Growing up on a steady diet of Hammer Horror (and yes the capitals are required) and discovering films like Near Dark, The Hunger, Fright Night, et al; I was disgusted at the thought of a “tween” vampire written by someone who did not even like vampires. It was a joke with a bloodless punchline that left a foul taste in one’s mouth.

I had given up hope of ever reading a vampire tale that would affect me so much that I had to sleep with the light on and nervously peer into darkened corners or jump, heart pounding, at every creak and pop as the house settles for the night.

But…

I had not counted on Horror Master (again the capitals are required) Michael West to collect such an array of brilliantly bloody and violent “old-fashioned” vampires. Vampires who: cannot walk in the sun and don’t look like a tawdry bit of moving glitter dust when they do, rip out throats, are cruel and vicious, have super-human strength and require a stake, and a hammer to kill.

It appears that I am not alone in my disgust at the current fad of foppish, shiny, reflective pompadour wearing sweetie-cakes who’d rather starve than rip out a throat and glut themselves on human blood. It appears that Mr West also longed for the more “traditional” Dracula type vampire and set out to find a collection of short stories where the vampires don’t sparkle…they kill.

He offers, for our entertainment and enjoyment (and terror) fifteen different stories about blood ingesting, super-human creatures who yearn for your blood from fifteen different contemporary authors. There is even a robot vampire!  But all these stories have one thing in common, apart from the fact that all the vampires in them are actually scary and would not appeal to any “tween” that I know of; these stories suffer from originality. 

They also have a wonderful Dionysian pathos that is admirable. I will admit that when I finished this blood-drenched work of art I felt (apart from uneasy about the fact that night had fallen) quite sated; akin to a tick or leech or even a mosquito after a long leisurely feast of blood from a victim.  Because the vampire is a blood sucking creature whose bodily fluid intake and exchange is as primal as the act of sex.

Michael West prefaces this collection of stories stating two things. The first is his dismay about what vampires have become in popular fiction. The second is his personal catharsis in dealing with two people who are near and dear to him being stricken with cancer.

One was a good friend and colleague who lost her battle against the horrible disease, the second is his wife, who has won her fight against this merciless killer. It is because of his personal involvement that he has donated a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this collection. He will be doing the same for his future anthologies.

If you love  more traditional vampires grab this book with both hands and read it. In a world of 2 and 3 star books and vampires who really aren’t, this collection is a real 5 star glorious bloodsucking creature of the night read.

I will leave you with Michael’s own statement about the book: “Stephenie Meyer stole this monster from Bram Stoker. We’re stealin’ it back!”

Michael with Elvira Mistress of the Dark...
Michael with Elvira Mistress of the Dark…

Michael Grant’s Gone Series Book Number 5 and Counting

Michael Grant's Gone
Michael Grant’s Gone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow.

That one little word says exactly how I feel about Michael Grant‘s series about a group of Southern California teens who are trapped in a Dionysian apocalyptic world by a giant bubble that has been created by a 5-year-old autistic demi-god.

I read the first book in the series in August of this year. I was immediately hooked on the characters, their story and the tiny surfing community of the fictional Perdido Beach where everyone over the age of fifteen suddenly disappears.

Perdido Beach is soon renamed the FAYZ by the remaining children who are broken into factions. The first two factions are the “Freaks” and the “Normals.” Further factions are broken down into the Sam Temple camp and his half-brother Caine Soren, as the names imply Sam is the good guy and Caine is not.

The other faction that affects all the kids beside the actual bubble itself is the Gaiaphage, an outer space virus that was getting a piggy-back ride from a meteor that crashed through the Perdido Beach nuclear power station.

The trials and tribulations of the stranded kids has run the gamut from carnivorous teeth sprouting worms to bugs that eat you from inside out.  Of course there is still the disappearing at fifteen hurdle to overcome, but both Sam and Caine have proven that you don’t have to “poof out” if you don’t want to.

The books in the series are as follows:

1. Gone

2. Hunger

3. Lies

4. Plague

5. Fear

6. Light

Light the sixth and final book in the series will not be out until April 2013. I, for one, cannot wait for the finale of this outstanding series.

The Gone series is classified as fiction for Young Adults or Teens. I am neither and I have been swept away by Grant’s world. Each book in the series has followed the character’s development, deaths and decisions.

I actually sat down and in a three-day “read-a-thon” plowed my way through Lies, Plague and Fear. It was only after I’d downloaded Fear and read it as an E-book that I realised my error. If I’d waited for the book to be available via the library, I could have save myself the agony of waiting for the last book to be published months away.

Michael Grant has shown us what Lord of the Flies could be in the 21st century. Both tales are of nuclear catastrophes and of the effects that it had on a group of ungoverned youths. Grant’s FAYZ bubble is an island by everything but name and the kids in it are facing similar struggles to the plane wreck survivors in Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The addition of “super powers” in some of the kids and the “joker in the deck” of Coates Academy full of rich kid juvenile delinquents just makes the playing field that much more colorful.

I would recommend this series full of unforgettable characters to anyone, young or old. The villains of the series are not cardboard cutouts and some, Drake Merwin aka Whiphand especially, are terrifying. By the end of Fear we’ve learned that outside the bubble the “real world” exists and that it is aware of the bubble and is trying to penetrate it.

I have read the odd review where they stated that the kids did not seem like “real” teenagers. I have one thing to say to that, but since this is a series aimed at young adults, I’ll restrict it to a G rating. What a crock! I work with teenagers everyday (well I did until my accident and then heart attack) and I can identify with Grants depiction of Sam, Astrid, Caine, Diana, heck all the kids in the FAYZ.

I have, so far, written two reviews about this series. The Gone  and Hunger reviews were written literally minutes after completing the book. This review took a bit longer as I sat and digested the enormity of what Michael Grant has achieved with his story of the FAYZ and all those in it and their families outside of it.

It also took a couple of days to get over the disappointment of realising that I won’t know the outcome of the characters until April of next year. The sign of any good author is the trait of being able to leave his readers wanting to hear more about his creation.

Grant has done that no question. I am a Michael Grant fan now and like a true fan I’ll be reading everything else by him that I can get my hands on. If for no other reason than it will make the waiting for the final book of Gone that little bit easier.

Tony Scott (21 June 1944 – 19 August 2012) The Hunger (1983) A Debut to Remember

Tony Scott RIP

I first saw The Hunger in 1987 while I was living in Holland. I’d spied it in a local video shop that catered to the Americans stationed at the little Air Base there. I fallen in love with Catherine Deneuve after I’d seen her in the black and white Polanski film RepulsionThat was the only reason I’d picked that video to watch. That it dealt with ‘modern’ vampires and had David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in it as well, was a bonus.

Back then I didn’t know who Tony Scott was. Oh I knew of his brother Ridley. You know the story, started making award winning commercials and then made the leap to feature films. Ridley was the Midas of celluloid. While Ridley was busy setting the film world on fire, Tony was fine tuning his directorial skills on music videos and commercials.

The Hunger did not do well at the box office (although now it is a cult classic) and Tony Scott then made the iconic Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun and he was then considered an action film auteur and that is how he made his living. I cannot refute that he was very good working in the action genre but I think he was trapped there. I loved The Hunger and that is the film I most associate with him.

The Hunger was adapted from the Whitley Strieber novel and it tells the story of the vampire Miriam (Deneuve) and her ‘partner’ John (Bowie). Miriam had ‘turned’ John and although he has vampire ‘powers’ he is inexplicably growing old. Fast. It turns out that this is the fate of all of Miriam’s lovers, she has an attic full of undead corpses who are anciently old but cannot die, John will soon join them.

John goes to see a doctor, Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in premature ageing. John leaves before Sarah can treat him. She is horrified to see how quickly he has aged and she goes to the home that he shares with Miriam. As soon as Miriam meets Sarah it is love at first sight and John is soon relegated to the attic.

Miriam then ‘turns’ Sarah who isn’t happy with this turn of events. Sarah then decides to leave Miriam who doesn’t want her to go.

The Hunger was dark, daring, different and sensual. At that time in film-land vampires were Christopher Lee or Louis Jourdan or even Jack Palance ( as Count Yorga) et al. In those films vampires were interested in controlling you and drinking you dry. Not only is Miriam female (and nothing like the Brides of Dracula) but she loved and she got lonely. Her partners, like the unfortunate John, always had to be replaced. As her lovers aged and the blood could no longer rejuvenate them, she was sad, but pragmatic.

Miriam knew that she must find another lover to turn or she would face eternity alone.

Tony Scott’s reputation was based on his finesse with the action genre. But I will always remember him for The Hunger. His debut film was one that, even though it was slow to catch on, went on to reach iconic cult status in the film world.

I have read that he had inoperable brain cancer. When I read that, his demise made more sense. I am not sure what I would do if I received that sort of news. Scott’s decision was personal and private and I respect that.

Just as I respected him as a film maker.

Rest in peace Tony. Like so few other folks in this world, you brought a lot to the party.

We’ll miss you.

*I”d like to thank John over at WRITTEN IN BLOOD for his brilliant review of True Romance a Tony Scott film that he felt summed the man’s talent up. His article prompted me to think of my Tony Scott film. So thank you John.*

The Hunger (1983)

Hunger by Michael Grant: A ‘Filling’ Read

Cover of "Hunger: A Gone Novel"
Cover of Hunger: A Gone Novel

Hunger is book number two in Michael Grant‘s continuing story of the survivors of Perdido Beach California. Perdido Beach has been re-christened the FAYZ and it is a dangerous place to live. Still trapped under the bubble, they don’t know if there is a world outside or not.

Gone finished with an apocalyptic battle between the Dionysian forces of Caine, Drake and Diana and the Apollonian forces of Sam, Astrid and Edilio.

The survivors have lived to fight another day. And to starve.

Food is running out too quickly for the youngsters to replace. Albert, who has taken over the local Mickee D’s and Edilio, the fire chief and soon to be sheriff have decided to harvest the crops that are lying in fields around the town.

Their first attempt ends in disaster when they find that humans aren’t the only things that have mutated in their new little world.

Caine has been in and out of a coma since his close encounter with the evil in the mine shaft. Drake’s been a bit more fortunate in his dealings with the creature in the shaft. He’s gotten a nifty new arm and has become even crazier than he was before.

Sam is rapidly losing his focus as things keep spiralling out of control. Kids are dying, starving and scared. There is a ‘movement’ started by the “normal’s” to take over control from the freaks. Despite help from Astrid, Edilio  and Quinn, Sam’s spinning plates are wobbling and falling.

Caine’s now recovering from his fugue and is intent on taking over the nuclear power station. Drake is plotting to kill Caine and Diana is still playing them both against each other. The rest of Caine’s troops have deserted after he killed a boy while he was delirious.

Lana the healer of Sam’s group decides she has to kill the thing in the mine shaft as it continues to talk to her and Caine. She is afraid that if she does not destroy it everyone in the FAYZ will die.

The ‘mutants’ continue to appear and get stronger. But Little Pete is still stronger than anyone realises. He has been making monsters while he sleeps.

But more frightening than the monsters is the fact that Pete is talking to the evil living in the mine shaft. It is hungry and it wants to be fed.

Michael Grant’s story continues to move at break neck speed. Introducing new characters, new problems and solutions. Like Sam Temple, Grant is spinning a lot of plates but they are in no danger of toppling off their stands.

We are given a basic thread of hunger that spreads through every thought and action of all the characters. It drives much of what happens in the book and affects the outcome of things more often than not.

Sam is close to losing control and breaking down despite the strong support he gets from Astrid and his friends.

Both groups have to deal with treachery, civil unrest and madness. Their small captive world is dangerously close to unravelling.

Hunger was another ‘page-burner’ in other words, if I’d turned the pages any faster, they would have caught fire from the friction. Just like the first book in the series, Gone, Hunger grabbed my attention and did not let go until the very last page.

I am still completely transfixed by the two groups and their battles with each other and with themselves. I want to see them win, whatever that entails, and I want to be there when it happens. Lead on Mr Grant, I’m right behind you waiting impatiently for the end.

I will finish by saying that I am amazed that these stories are classed as Young Adult Literature. Like the Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn, I think that this classification is wrong. Anyone can read these and get carried away by the writing, the story and the characters.

Thank you Michael Grant for writing them.

Michael Grant

19/08/1012