Book Review – GONE by Michael Grant

23 10 2013

GONE (Michael Grant)

Title: GONE

Author: Michael Grant

Publisher: HarperCollins/Egmont Books

ISBN: 1405242353

Imagine you are a teenager (unless you are one), a time when you wished your parents and teachers would just leave you alone. Every teenager goes through that period, but imagine that it actually happens. A place where all the Adults have simply disappeared. What would you do? Eat all the fast food you want to, watch TV and Play Games day and night, it sounds perfect doesn’t it. Well, it turns out that it really isn’t all that perfect.

GONE tells the tales of a group of teenagers who live in and around a town in America called Perdido Beach. One day all the Adults suddenly disappear, everyone over 15 ‘poofed’. Many kids see this naturally as an opening to do whatever they want, eating cookies and ice-cream till they are sick, watch TV and play games until they can’t stay awake, no one bossing them around, Great. Well not really, from the get go the school playground is multiplied by 10 as the bullies see a chance to take control and total anarchy commences. A fire is started and attention in the community focuses on main character Sam and his girlfriend Astrid. Soon control seems to re-emerge with the appearance of several kids from a local private school arrive to take control, but things only get worse. What’s more, there is a giant invisible barrier twenty miles in diameter blocking the community off from the rest of the world and kids have started developing abilities, Mutant Powers. And if things couldn’t get any more worse, there is something lurking in the wilderness, The Darkness.

I personally found out about these books when I first began to read The Hunger Games. I was in Waterstones and saw this interesting looking book called FEAR. The front cover got me interested and I looked more into it and discovered it was part of a series of bestselling books known as the GONE series. Several months later I finally get round to buying the first book GONE, but I did not start reading it until about 9/10 months later. At first I found it hard to get into, new book and all but I kept pushing myself to keep reading it. Eventually I got to the point where I could not stop reading it. I loved it.

The books main setting is that one a teenager wants, but the author goes into exploring the idea of no adults around, what would happen? In many a sense it is the school playground on a much larger scale. With no authority around, bullies can do whatever they want and the teenage utopia begins to crash. But there is more to it than that. You have the preschool children that need taking care of, if people get injured, they cannot be taken to a hospital because there are no doctors, food is abundant but will eventually run out, if a fire breaks out there is no fire brigade to tend to it and if there is a problem there is no police to call. Law and order will naturally break down until someone can step up. This idea is directed mainly at Sam who is seen as a possible leader; however he does not want the job despite constant poking from Astrid. A few days later though it is too late as the book’s main protagonists; Caine, Drake and Diana arrive to take control, and bring back law and order, but deep down they have sinister intentions. The books main point of chaos though comes from the strange new world that the kids inhabit. The barrier which prevents them from leaving, people gaining Mutant Abilities, creatures mutating, the approaching darkness and the fact that once your 15th birthday arrives you take the big poof. All of which takes place in an area that has become commonly known as the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone).

For most of the book, the story is told in the third person point of view. Each chapter though tells the story in relation to how a character thinks or feels. One chapter could involve Sam Temple saying, doing, moving and thinking, when the next one could involve Astrid saying, doing, moving and thinking making her the central character of context. It is through these perspectives that other characters begin to emerge. Characters like Mary Terrafino who looks after and takes care of the day care centre as well as her own personal problems as well as Lana who for most of the early part of the book is completely separate from everyone in the FAYZ with only her dog Patrick for company. The central character context of the book also allows the reader to gain insight into the minds of the antagonists of the book like Caine and Diana.

The author also draws upon inspiration and real events from the real world using these events to shape some of the more horrific events in the books. Ideas begin to come across including fear of the unknown, racism, the horrors of war and slavery. The fear of the unknown is much in many a case like the X-Men as you have Mutants vs Humans, which is the case here but this mostly leads to racism but only on a partial level as many can see that they also need those with mutant abilities to survive this new world. Slavery is an area which the book explores with great detail including how people become slaves. This angle is not featured until the early stages of about last third of the book, but the whole experience when reading it made me want to jump in and stop it all, because the book also represents how horrific slavery is and potentially can become particularly at the levels it represents in this book. This all leads to the eventual conflicts between groups to which the author may be drawing from experience as part of a military family. In many a case throughout this book it is showing how kids have to adapt and grow up because their imaginary world can’t happen. In a sense it makes childhood look like a safety barrier to the horrors of the real world that the parents are trying to protect them from. This may be another reason for the title as not only have all the adults gone, but so has the world they live and more and more each day it is becoming a lot more hostile and cruel.

After I first read The Hunger Games and the books I have read since then, I did not know if I would find a book that would be better than it, but I think I have. GONE, while being a larger book reveals more of the world than The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is taken from the first person perspective and shows the world around the main character while GONE takes a step back and looks at the world that has been created, but it also creates more than one story too. Each character has their own part in the story while also telling their own story, one that you want to keep reading to find out what happens. GONE is one amazing ride, from  the point of the world’s formation, through it’s struggles and hardships to it’s eventual dramatic conclusion, GONE is a book that everyone should have on their bookshelves.


Playground Debate: Pokémon vs Digimon

24 03 2011

I remember when I was at primary school me and my friends were always talking about the 2 new crazes that were out at the time. One was called Pokémon and the other was called Digimon. The 2 crazes were both similar in the way that both had Cartoons on CITV, both had Card Games, both had Video Games and both had Movies (the 2 also had the Mon in their names). It was not until about a year later when I started High School that I was asked which was better. Now at the time both were very good and it was harder to choose.

Pokémon and Digimon simply explained:

Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters) is a media Franchise owned by Nintendo about lots of monsters who go on adventures with people and have fights with other monsters.

Digimon is a Media Franchise about lots of monsters living in a Digital World who go on adventures with people and have fights with other monsters.

You can see that the 2 franchises are very similar.

Now that I am older I can now compare them scientifically (not really) which is better. 

First off let’s take a look at the movies.

Pokémon has released 13 movies where as Digimon has released just 9. However which of the 2 franchises had the best films. The answer is simple; Pokémon. The Digimon films had good storylines but the animation was not as good as the ones in the cartoons. However the Digimon Films (I have only seen the first one which was the first 3 into one movie, UK Release) were quite good and very enjoyable in my opinion Pokémon had much better films with good cast of characters, good storylines and it was the time when you had a chance of seeing the rare Pokémon. The best Film in the Pokémon movies is Pokémon 2000 (Pokémon 2). A great film with good pieces of music with some of the best Pokémon in the whole franchise like Lugia.

Pokémon 1, Digimon 0. Now let’s take a look at the Card Games.

The Pokémon card game was very well made, it was easy to get the hang of and there was lots of cards to collect, to this day you can still get Pokémon cards, okay they are not as easy to get hold of because it is not as big as it used to be but you can still get cards from shops like GAME and Gamestation. When you learned how to play the game it was easy to remember it and when you next played a game of it you could just set up your game with your friends and play it. The Digimon card game was not as popular (well not at least in the UK); I don’t remember being able to find it being sold or anywhere where you would even see it being sold. I remember seeing them in magazines but I don’t remember seeing them anywhere else. So for the fact that you could buy them as well as being able to play them this round goes to Pokémon.   

Pokémon 2, Digimon 0; now let’s take a look at the Video Games.

Digimon released a few Video Games but were not as widely available as Pokémon Video Games. The 2 main Pokémon games at the time were the Hand Held games and Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64. Both Pokémon Stadium 1 and Pokémon Stadium 2 were my favourite games on the Nintendo 64. I also played Pokémon Yellow on the Game Boy which was very interesting. With the recent Video Games being released for the DS and 3DS I would quite like to play the new Hand Held games because they do look like a lot of fun. I would also like to see both Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2 to arrive on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console because I would really like to play them again. I did not manage to play any Digimon video game but from what I could see they look like more Better Graphics versions of Pokémon Hand Held Games, But I would still rather play Pokémon than Digimon even though I would still like to have a go at the Digimon Games.

Pokémon 3, Digimon 0; Now it is the big one, The Cartoon Series, this is the real battleground between these 2 combatants.

Digimon is the Better Cartoon Series. Pokémon had lots of episodes (okay it still has not finished) but it was fun and enjoyable, but Digimon had more of a story, well designed Characters and Digimon Monsters and good pieces of music. But the one major thing it has over Pokémon was the fact that it had a Beginning, Middle and End. OK Pokémon had all the other things except the ending. With Digimon it made it more exciting due to the point that it was going to end and you did not know when. The Characters defeated the big bad guy but then there was someone who was even more powerful than him and then it would all come to the point where they finally discover who the big bad guy is and defeat him and it would all be a happy ending. It was that point where it was the most exciting thing where it was the last episode and you tuned in to see what was going to happen and find out what the big finish was. You don’t get that with Pokémon because it doesn’t finish. With Digimon you get a real understanding of how it all pans out and how everything is connected and who was behind everything. The personalities of the villains was also particularly well done in particular Myotismon who was this vampire creature who had the style of a Count and when he got even more powerful he would get even more villainous. For characters to really shine in the Pokémon series they would have to appear in the films.

Pokémon 3, Digimon 1; The winner is Pokémon

I know that you may have different opinions about the 2 franchises and I am interested to find out which you think is better and why. In my opinion Digimon had the better cartoon series whereas Pokémon was better with the other things. Even though I have settled it for myself I think this debate will still go on for many years. It may have left the playgrounds and other things have taken its place, but for fans of both media franchises this debate may still go on for many years to come.


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