This is the first time I read something from Michael Grant's. I took interest on this book one day while browsing for a new read. I was looking for a YA read and found Gone.
Where are the adults?
Grant took the apocalyptic world and probably asked himself: what if adults were gone? He puts children on a town isolated by a barrier. We don't know what happened to the rest of the world and it is a question you will ask yourself during all the time you invest reading this book. This would be a difficult situation for an adult, so imaging how challenging it would be for kids. Children are less resourceful than adults, also immature, so every problem could escalate like a wild fire.
Follow the leader... but who?
The setting of this book is Perdido Beach. The city is surrounded by a barrier and no adult presence is found. Keep this in mind, Perdido Beach is a name fit for the place because Perdido is Spanish for lost. In this city's weirdness at first the kids are disorganized but see some hope on Sam. Sam is a kid just like them, but he had gained their trust due to his heroic actions in the past. They think of him as the one with the answers, but Sam is not ready to take a leader's role. When a new kid emerges on the scene entourage included -the town and especially Sam get more than they bargain for. Caine and his crew act in pro of the interest and well being of all the kids ...All appearances! Their dark motivations are soon shown, triggering a chain of events that will awaken Sam's leadership.
Inside that barrier things are crazy. The place is govern by a new ecosystem where laws of physics no longer apply and reality blends with fantasy. Even the characters will evolve, and in Sam and Caine, this will happen exponentially. Alliances will form, after all they feel insecure and kids will be on edge. The climate is one of immediate survival, not one of long lasting survival. We confirm all of this as they establish rules that soon become excuses for bullying and persecution. Sam will be the one who will provoke positive change for everyone.
The bunch had common sense
When people is trying to survive, they will be on edge. These kids are by themselves, but it surprised me how they handle things. The daycare center continues taking care of the little ones (underage staff). The fire department and police keeps going. Even the McDonald's is offering services!
At some point factions are forming: Perdido Beach Kids vs. Coates Academy Kids (school nearby) They decide who to follow based on: moral, accessibility to resources, protection or power. Caine exemplifies power by generating fear and use of manipulation. He keeps the children fearful using a set of strong powers he acquired. He had been altered by something unknown as everything has been altered on Perdido Beach. Caine is at the top of the list of children with powers. Kids will have to decide who to follow and a big fight will define the near future of all of them... at least for a while.
About the book
I read the kindle version of Gone on my smartphone. It's a good version easy to read and mine is full of notes. I'm planning on reading the next book. Already got the sample of Hunger at Amazon and from what I read on its synopsis, things won't get easier. The children of Perdido Beach simply live everyday as it comes. Gone had an optimistic ending reflecting unity in the kids. I was delighted to see how they find common ground with tradition and a big feast. The big feast part is what drives me mad. How are they going to find food in the future when probably their supplies are already low? The smart thing would've been to ration their food. Sooooooo, the second book is Hunger and I rest my case!
While reading this book I kept turning electronic pages for it was difficult to stop reading. The story is full of surprises. I liked about this book that Grant didn't sanctify children. He put them on a stressful environment and let his characters play. There will always be kids more mature than others. The story has many characters but just a few kids take responsibility for the general well-being. Unfair, but not everybody will be proactive on a community, it would be an Utopian state of mind.
Recommend for Middle age and up