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.
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)