The Maze Runner: Deadly Puzzle Solving Story

The Maze Runner: Deadly Puzzle Solving Story

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is, at the beginning of the series, a deadly puzzle solving story where a large group of boys must figure their way out of the huge maze they live in. At the start of the book the newest arrival to the world known as the Glade is confused and terrified but he does remember that his name is Thomas.

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

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.

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

Gone By Michael Grant – But Not Over

Written by Michael Grant and first published in 2008, Gone is a brilliant start to a series about the youthful survivors of a shattered California town.

Set in the fictional seaside town of Perdida Beach. The book starts with the literal disappearance of a teacher in front of her class full of young students. There is no bang, no pop, no puff of smoke. Just there one moment and gone the next.

It turns out that the disappearance of the teacher isn’t an isolated event. As the book proceeds, we find that everyone fifteen years old and older have vanished.

The ‘hero’ of the piece is Apollonian Sam Temple (do you get what he did there, with the name?) who, with his best friend Quinn Gaither, teams up with Astrid Ellison (who might as well be named super-genius) and Edilio Escobar an immigrant from the Honduras. Their first concern is finding out who from their respective families are still around.

They finally go to find Astrid’s extremely autistic brother Pete who was with his father at the Perdido Atomic Power Plant when all  the fifteen plus people vanished.

Before the end of the first day, Sam has saved the pre-school from burning down, he and his group have found Petey and they have discovered that the entire area around Perdido Beach has been enclosed in some sort of bubble.

Within forty-eight hours the question of eating, living, and who will rule has been broached. Before the dust settles, a convoy of black cars drive into the town square. The children who step out of the cars are from the ‘rich kid’ academy on the hill Coates Academy. Coates is in reality a juvenile detention home for the off-spring of the  rich and privileged who are “discipline problems.”

Their leader is the charismatic and Dionysian Caine (again, look what he did with the name here) who is the exact opposite of Sam and who wants to control everything.

While all this has been going on, a lot of the children are finding out that they have developed new and unusual abilities.

But they face another problem. It is rapidly coming up to Sam’s fifteenth birthday and he’s not getting a cake for his special day.

Lord of the Flies

Grant has taken this small town and using it as a giant goldfish bowl shows how the children of modern society would react if all the ‘grown-ups’ were removed. It is almost like a panoramic and updated view of The Lord of the Flies, William Golding’s classic book. Or even Stephen King’s The Stand, but a microscopic version.

No matter how you look at it, the book is a cracking read. Grant paints the towns tapestry brilliantly and uses the same masterful strokes to paint his characters. I lost myself  in this book and could not stop reading it until the last page was breached.

I am now in the process of getting the rest of the books in his series. I have a feeling that Michael Grant is here to stay as a gifted story teller.