Gone releases in the UK on 6th April.
In a second, all the adults disappear. Not just adults, but everyone 15 or over. Communications are down, emergency services are down, all the people who would normally be taking charge and explaining this crisis have disappeared. Kids are running scared. Some take care of others, others only look out for themselves. Some see it as a disaster, others see it as an opportunity for power. Sam and Astrid are thrown together, trying to work out how to escape the huge wall now trapping them in the town. Everything is spiralling out of control in a feud between the two schools of Perdido Beach. Time is running out fast. But for some, the craziness started six months ago, when they realised they could do things no-one should be able to.
Nowadays, I notice when a book is mediocre. I notice and think ‘huh. That was only ok.’ And I’m surprised. Either the standard of teen literature is shooting up, or I’m getting better at only picking up the good books thanks to great recommendations from all the wonderful reviewers out there (I think both are true)
So Gone was noticeably better than the average. And if the average is now very good, then that makes Gone very, very good. I couldn’t put it down. The children were well-characterised and interesting, acting very maturely. Which brings me to one of only two problems I had with the book; the children should have been up to 16, not 14. I appreciate that people mature quickly in a crisis, but these kids seemed over 14.
The second problem is that there are a few big questions which are only partially answered – hello, book two – so if you can’t stand cliff-hangers, you should wait until the second book is out before reading this one. Overall, not exactly massive problems. Other than that, I loved it. Sam is known as ‘school-bus Sam’ for the day he saved the bus going off the edge of a cliff, but since then he’s blended into the background at school. Kids remember this and turn to him once disaster strikes, but he’s not sure that he’s up to the challenge. I like that he’s not overconfident, that he has to learn how to pretend he knows what he’s doing. This is also his big chance in a way, because he’s fancied Astrid for ages and now they’ve somehow been thrown together.
But my favourite character was Quin. Quin is not brave, he doesn’t have any special abilities, he doesn’t know what to do. Quin is a regular guy, so when he compares himself to Sam, he’s inevitably ashamed. Not everyone can be the hero and not everyone has the guts to do the right thing. Quin embodies this in what could otherwise turn into a story just about extraordinary people.
Gone was great. The pacing was good – the chapters count down in days and hours to Sam’s fifteenth birthday, which adds a sense of urgency. The idea was interesting. I want to know why the wall came up, how exactly it happened, how they can escape. While the story resolved and some questions answered, some were not. A thrilling story and one that had me hooked from the start.