Author: Michael Grant
Rating: 3-5 stars pending on the book
Review Contains Spoilers
Book One (Gone) and Six (Light) Covers Featured
Spanning six books, Grant's YA dysotopian series takes readers on a wild rollercoaster ride. Grant crafts a world reminiscent of Left Behind, Lord of the Flies and Under the Dome with only children.
In book one, Gone, every person over the age of 15 vanishes from Perdido Beach, California. A energy barrier forms over the town. At first everyone left behind is freaked out. Soon that turns into ecstasy. No more homework, curfews or traditional meals! A world without rules is what most children dream of. Pretty soon reality sets in. Teenagers need to step up and become the town's firefighter, law enforcement and parent. The town's local high school and private preparatory school battle for the leadership position. The town's nuclear power plant and mines arouse suspicion, especially since an evil is forming in the mines. The good guys (Sam, Eldido, Astrid) are introduced along with the bad guys (Caine, Drake, Diana). There's also a pesky catch: in the wake of the disaster some kids start exhibiting scary supernatural powers. Some of them had powers before the disappearances and energy barrier. Could they be the reason everything happened?
Book two, Hunger, has Sam and Caine battling each other for power and survival. Readers also find out they are fraternal twin brothers. Sam's mother worked at the private school, Coates, as a nurse. She supposedly knew both her sons had power. Other tensions and drama beat out Caine/Sam, though. The town is now known as the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). Kids are beginning to starve to death. Mutant powers vs. no powers has created a rift, causing kids to kill each other. The teenagers determine the town's nuclear plant can help them keep the electricity on. However an accident 15 years ago involving the nuclear plant may have created the evil residing in the mines, also known as the gaiaphage.
Lies shows the teenagers attempting and failing to keep the town in order. The town's council begins keeping secrets from each other which eventually causes mistrust throughout the community. Astrid fears her autistic brother plays a bigger role with the FAYZ creation. After three books of complete mystery surrounding the energy barrier Grant teases readers with a big twist. The dome vanishes for mere seconds and reveals the outside world not only still exists but that the town is surrounded by the news, military and worried families. Even though the energy barrier returns it's enough to incite speculation and excitement for characters and readers alike.
Plague introduces a mysterious illness which kills off countless kids. Perdido Beach also a new leader, the cunning Albert. The gaiaphage's evil plans also continue with killer insects and parasites. Readers witness one main character make a heartbreaking decision by killing her own sibling. More new characters are revealed to be hiding on an island nearby Perdido Beach. Caine and Diana escape to the island only to make certain decisions that will test their relationship and everyone's survival.
The fifth book, Fear, is especially exciting because it finally shows us an adult's point-of-view on the outside. Connie Temple, Sam and Caine's mother, shows readers what the adult community has endured after literally being pulled out of Perdido Beach without some of their children. She finds out the military plans to nuke the energy barrier. Plus we learn she was having an affair so Sam and Caine might have different fathers (saucy). Astrid has gone rogue after killing Little Petey. Petey is not really alive anymore but he's also not dead. His spirit continues to escalate events within the FAYZ. The gaiaphage wants to take on Petey in human form--as Diana's newborn. Since baby Gaia is not really normal she grows at an alarmingly fast rate and can absorb the other kid's powers. (I guess evil has that advantage). Most importantly, the barrier turns black leaving everyone in the dark. After so much pain and endurance, everyone is ultimately facing the worst circumstances since the series begin. And that's saying a lot.
The last book, Light, shows how the FAYZ kids and the outside world can finally see each other since the barrier turned transparent. The public can see how kids kill each other to survive--causing the media, military and parents to take actions into their own hands. Enemies become allies with the sole cause to take down Gaia. Major characters make the ultimate sacrifice and die. And most importantly? We see the race against time on the outside as the kids finally break through.
I know this was a long review. My final thoughts? I might be off but some of the biblical overtones were awesome. Some not so much. I wonder if Caine and Abel from the Bible represented Caine and Sam in certain ways. It's also revealed Caine was the son of Connie's husband while Sam was the product of an affair. The entire reason Connie gave up Caine for adoption was because of some serious evil vibes she got from him as a baby. Turns out the power plant/meteor accident, which created the gaiaphage, killed her husband in process. The gaiaphage was just a freaky alien form the entire time. As a meteor, it crashed in Perdido Beach and killed Mr. Temple, causing the meteor to soak up some human DNA. Trapped in the mines, it struggled to live. The meteor crash also explained why some kids under a certain age got powers.
Safe sex was another topic that went awry. The "good" characters, Sam and Astrid, practiced safe sex. Caine and Diana had unprotected sex and Diana ended up giving birth to an alien host. Yes, kids, practice safe sex. But the idea that the "bad" characters (who later redeem themselves) made poor sex decisions seemed contrived to me. That's not how life works. Besides, maybe Sam had easier access to condoms than Caine did. Just saying.
The Bible's Revelations obviously became the biggest influence in this book. Before we found out about the outside world, life was literally ending for the kids inside the barrier. First everyone over a certain age vanishes. I know it's not like Left Behind exactly but we see how a kid's humanity and faith is tested. Starvation, the plague and evil locusts all go hand-in-hand with the book of Revelations. Even after the outside world is revealed we have half the U.S. population declaring the children as dangerous devils.
Most of all, I cherished how the characters were written. Seemingly good smart characters made irreversible horrible mistakes. Evil characters redeemed themselves and sacrificed their lives for a greater good. And they were all 15 or 16 tops. Events forcing children to become adults can go both ways: devastating and extremely well. We see both situations. We see characters question their faith, sexuality and morals. Not all survive but when they do life is not easy on the outside.Kids are seriously messed up--some commit suicide. The country needs to arrest kids for what happened on the inside but Caine pulls through even after his death to put all legal implications on him. Sam, Diana and Astrid all end up as roommates which is endearing. Even with full access to all the food and electronics we see their vulnerability over something as simple as moving on--or turning off the light.