The first book I received from the Amazon Vine program was Gone by Michael Grant (576 pgs, Harper Teen 2008). It is a Young Adult book (yes, I know. Another one!). And it's one very terrifying book!
One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone. There. Gone. No "poof". No flash of light. No explosion.
Life for Sam Temple in the town of Perdido Beach was spent trying to blend in. Two years ago, he was a hero. When the driver of the school bus had a heart attack while driving, Sam stepped up and pulled the bus over. But he didn't want to be a hero. He just wanted to be normal. But Sam had a secret, and he didn't want anyone to know.
Then IT happened. One minute, all the kids were in class....then everyone over the age of 15 was gone. In the blink of an eye, the world had changed. Sam, his best friend Quinn and the smartest girl in school, Astrid were trying to make sense of what happened. And everyone was looking to Sam to know what to do. But he didn't want to lead. But Sam had other things he needed to do first. Astrid's brother, little Pete, was missing and they had to find him. He was severely autistic, and couldn't handle things by himself. They tried to find him at Astrid's house and her mother's tennis club. They finally found him at the nuclear power plant where her father worked. And they also found "the Barrier". Not only were all the adults gone, but there was an impenetrable barrier that held the kids inside the FAYZ, as it was being called: Fallout Alley Youth Zone.
But when they came back to town, things were getting weird. A couple of the local bullies were trying to run the show. Nothing was organized. A couple of older kids were trying to look after the smaller ones at the daycare. The stores were being looted. Things were a mess. Then into town rolls the kids from the Coates Academy, the high-price boarding school located just out of town. Their leader was Caine, a charismatic, but egocentric kid. But at least he had a plan. He appointed a "Sheriff" and came up with rules that had to followed.
If things weren't weird enough, it seemed like animals were mutating. And some kids were discovering they had certain powers. But showing these powers meant bad things would happen to them if Caine and his sheriff found out. Then there was the question of what would happen when you turn 15. Would you just "poof" like the others? Sam's birthday is only 10 days away.....
This book is kind like Lord of the Flies meets It. And I loved it!! Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was going to be a series. Many things go unanswered, and the ending is wide open for the next book to start. I loved Sam and the way he had to step and become a man at 14. That is something no kid should have to do. But he handled it well. And the story flowed so easily, I didn't even realize it was almost 600 pages long.
Grant created an impossible world with improbable odds and set a bunch of kids in it to see if they could survive. And it's definitely one that the younger YA set could read. Nothing graphic about it at all, and it really would make a younger person think about what would happen. Food shortages, no one to care for the little ones, no doctors or cops. There is some death involved though, and it might be a little hard for some to swallow. All in all this was a great adventure and I'm so glad that I read it. Highly recommended! 4.5/5
And if my review isn't enough to make you want to read this book, just check out the book "trailer":