The finale of Breaking Bad finally aired Sunday night, putting thousands of fans out of their misery. And all trying to second guess the ending of Vince Gilligan’s show. Unsurprisingly, it was adios to both Heisenberg and Walter White by the time the end credits rolled.
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.
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.
- Gone by Michael Grant – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Gorging Myself on Books (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Fear by Michael Grant (bestfriendsrbooks.wordpress.com)
- Fear: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant (louloulib.wordpress.com)
- Gone by Michael Grant (originalbookgirl.wordpress.com)
- Teen Book Review (teengirlsthatwrite.wordpress.com)
I have not gotten this excited about an author since I got sent a Stephen King book as a Book Club “Choice of the Month” in 1979. I had never heard of King before, but the book – The Stand (and can you think of a better introduction to Kings work, than The Stand?) was huge and had a cover with a dwarf dressed as some sort of knight who was engaged in battle with some big thing. Despite this inauspicious start, I opened the book and started reading. I did not stop until I had finished the book, I then re-read it. I have in fact re-read the book many times since then. I became a huge King fan, and yes Stevie I would read your shopping list if you so chose to write it.
I have now found a new writer to fall in love with, well with her words and her stories, Suzanne Collins. After reading the first instalment in her trilogy, The Hunger Games, I ran down and bought the other two books in the series. I read the last two in such a state of concentration that the house could have burned down and I would not have noticed. In fact I read all three books in three days. Just in case your math skills are a little rusty, that works out to a book a day friends and neighbours.
With each book weighing in at around five hundred pages per novel, that is some heavy duty reading. And before you ask, no I have never taken a speed reading course, I just read really fast. Ask my first wife, she knows. The point I am trying to make, by going the “the long way around the barn” is this. Suzanne Collins, to me anyway has joined the short list of authors that can take me fully into the world that she has created.
That’s right, I said short list of authors.
King, always; with the exception of Carrie, I had a hard time dealing with the last of the book, with it’s press clippings and interviews. John D. MacDonald, always, especially if it was a Travis McGee book. Elmore Leonard, Always, no exceptions, Ed McBain, no exceptions; I really miss the guys at the 87th precinct. I could probably make a list of writers that could fill a good sized paragraph, but it would still be short compared to the amount of published writers that currently exist.
In a time where the mass production of the Kindle has caused ebooks to start selling like hotcakes, thereby giving exposure to a host of mediocre writers, Collins shines like a beacon. Oh how brightly she shines. In my opinion, her books should be taught in school, not Stephanie Meyer’s dreadful Twilight series. Twilight with it’s lackadaisical heroine and the poor writing style. The female protagonist in her books is so wishy washy, so lacklustre and the books themselves so sophomorically written…Sorry, but I think you can catch my drift here.
These three books are brilliantly written. Collins has given us a positive role model for a female heroine. The stories themselves serve us a powerful message: “The new boss is the same as the old boss.” Or in layman’s terms, power corrupts and we really shouldn’t trust anyone who has absolute power.
I am not going to bother going over plot points. I won’t go into any discussions about characters and their arcs. I will say one thing about Suzanne Collins’ books.
Read them, all of them.