Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Dystopian, sci-fi, young adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 2008
Stand alone or series: Beginning of a series
How did I get this book: Forced into buying it by a friend – not regretting it
Let’s start with a brief summary (from the book jacket):
In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents–unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers–that grow stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…
What I thought:
It’s so exciting. I think that’s the best word to describe this book. Like, once the action starts, it’s pretty hard to put it down. Case in point: I read all 558 pages yesterday. It’s full of action, awesome characters, cool powers, and great descriptions. I thought that the development of the powers in some of the kids felt organic, and the reaction that some of the characters had to them was natural and realistic; some of the characters go bad, some distance themselves from those who have the power, and, obviously, some are very scared of them. I also thought that the reaction to this weird event (the adults disappearing and the town being surrounded by a barrier) felt real. The kids go a little crazy at first, loot a bunch of the stores, take what they want and don’t care what happens. But then you’ve got other kids who step up and take charge. I just think if something like this were to actually happen, this is exactly the reaction kids would have had.
Also, the characters are brilliant and super well-developed. I could go on and on about how much I liked or didn’t like certain characters and how ridiculously well-developed they were, but I won’t. Let’s just say that I was seriously impressed with Grant’s ability to develop even the most minor characters. I felt like I actually knew each of them. I do want to focus on a couple though:
- Sam; he’s our main character. I really appreciated the fact that he was kind of a reluctant hero. He stepped up when he needed to, but he didn’t want to be in the spotlight or be the leader of this group. He reminded me a bit of Katniss in that regard, so that was cool. He also felt pretty mature for a 14 year old, which was odd at first, but then you get to know him and you realize that he is real.
- Caine; he’s our main antagonist. Holy freaking crap. He’s psycho. I think that Grant wrote him really well. Yes, it was a little far-fetched to have a 14 year old that was this crazy, but I think that the way Grant writes enables the reader to suspend their disbelief perfectly.
- Lana and Pack Leader; she’s a sort of main character and he’s a freaking coyote that talks. Yeah, you read that right. Not only do some of the humans gain powers, but some animals are mutated as well. Pack Leader is a coyote that can speak English, in a low, gravelly yet high-pitched voice (I could actually hear it in my mind because of Grant’s descriptions). He scared me, so I could totally feel Lana’s fear.
- A few other characters I thought were cool: Drake (ahhhhh, that thing that happens to him in the end! I visibly reacted to this – my mom had to ask me what was wrong. Such awesome/horrifying descriptions); Quinn (I really felt for him); Astrid (she’s awesome and believable).
Okay, so Grant’s writing isn’t great all the time. There are several passages that were just too simplistic and a little immature. Yet at the same time, the book was super clever and imaginative. The dialogue was on point: humorous, deep, well-done. I will say though that at first when the characters said “brah” I was really annoyed, but then I actually thought it worked. I will assume that the writing will improve throughout the rest of the series.
Also, while the characters were really well-developed, I had a slight problem with the development of the world in which these kids lived. It was a little thin. However, I’m going to assume that this was intentional and will be fixed in subsequent novels in the series.
The book jacket quotes VOYA with saying “If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this. YES. This.
I definitely want to read the rest of the series, and I look forward to reading the explanation for all that happened to these kids.
The bottom line:
There were a few issues I had with the writing, but overall I seriously enjoyed this book. The characters are so well-done though I had some problems with the world development. Super fantastic book anyway. It has a great plot and is really exciting to read. My heart pounded through all of the action sequences.
Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic
Reading next: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson