Friday, March 18, 2011

Gone

"He was scared. And he was mad, too. Where were the people who were supposed to do this? Where were the adults? Why was this up to him? He was just a kid. And why hadn't anyone else been crazy enough, stupid enough to rush into a burning building? He was mad at all of them and, if Quinn was right and this was something God has done, then he was mad at God, too. But if Sam had done this...if Sam had made all this happen...then there was no one to be mad at but himself."

Title: Gone

Author: Michael Grant

ISBN: 978-0-06-144878-2

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright: 2008

Plot Summary: Gone takes place in a small town in California and centers on teen surfer-boy Sam, his friend Quinn, and Sam's love interest Astrid. One day in the middle of class, their teacher disappears, along with another student. The school breaks into chaos, kids breaking vending machines for candy, while Sam slowly realizes that all people over the age of fourteen have disappeared. When a building starts to burn down and all the kids do nothing, Sam organizes them into an impromptu fire brigade and rushes into the building to save a child. When Sam comes upon the child, he discovers she started the fire by blasting flames from her hands. His own power materializes, a light so bright that it knocks her out. Worshiped as a hero once more, having saved his school bus after the driver had a heart attack, kids start looking up to Sam, who flees the responsibility and goes with Quinn and Astrid to look for her autistic little brother, Little Pete. Soon, the trio discover an energy barrier encircling the city, school bullies have taken over, and that the Coates Academy kids have come down from their campus to take control of the entire town.

Critical Evaluation: Gone carries the theme of children left alone without adult supervision which is famous in Lord of the Flies, and is also worthy of being included in high school reading lists. Sam is a reluctant leader who carries within him the guilt of leadership, not believing he can care for himself, let alone the community who looks up to him. When Caine arrives and recruits Orc to lead his reign of terror, Sam does stand up and tries to solve the problem by getting rid of the barrier. It is only when he realizes the true horror of Caine that he realizes he must fight him. The lost brothers theme is somewhat clich├ęd, especially both having super powers that outshine everyone else's. The Caine and Able theme is visible from Caine's point of view, discovering the truth about Sam and wanting to kill or shame him in order to prove that he was superior, despite their mother giving him up. The dialog and narration in Gone is witty and realistic and the banter between Sam and Quinn and Sam and Astrid is well-written and elicits laughter as well as seriousness as the teens attempt to grasp an imposing situation.

Reader's Annotation: In a small town in California, everyone over the age of fourteen disappears without a trace, suddenly and horrifically, leaving empty cars to crash and buildings to go to ruin. Out of those who are left, Sam is a reluctant hero who lacks the courage to take responsibility for all of the teens, kids, and infants left, but there is no one else, other than the ruthless and power-hungry Caine.

Information About the Author: Michael Grant is a California born and raised author who started writing late. To make up for it, he and his wife co-wrote the long-lived Animorphs children's series, writing 150 books in total.
After finishing the Animorphs series, Grant then went on to write the Gone series, which he wrote "to creep you [the reader] out." Read more about Michael Grant at his website.

Genre: Supernatural; Dystopia; Good versus Evil

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • In a small Californian town, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears without a trace, in an instant. Now, the elders of the town are fourteen-year-olds and bullies start to use their might to rule over the other kids. A mysterious barrier covers the town, trapping everyone, while kids being to gain supernatural powers. Everyone struggles to maintain order amidst the new rulers.
Reading Level: 14+

Challenge Issues:
  • Almost a modern-day Lord of the Flies where the kids have superpowers, Gone is a story about what would happen to kids and teens if there were no adults. A common theme, it shows the good and the bad of each individual, as people step up to lead for the good of the community and those who lead for power and domination over others. While targeting teens, this book could easily be read by adults, much like Lord of the Flies.
Why This Book?: Staff recommendation

Reference Page:
Grant, M. (2008). Gone. United States of America: HarperCollins Publishers.

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