In less than a month, Michael Grant’s follow up to the epic Gone series, Monster will hit the shelves.
The six part Gone series is my favourite book series of all time and consists of the books Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear and Light.
I fondly remember coming across the first book at my school library and reading it.
One months later I had read the entire series.
I have never been more excited for a book release than I am now for Monster so, in anticipation for its release, I will be reviewing the entirety of the Gone series from Gone all the way to Light.
The first book in the series, Gone is definitely the weakest of the books.
Not to say it is bad or anything, but the other books just had better story telling.
Still, Gone is a must read that introduces us to the world of the Fallout Alley Youth Zone (FAYZ).
The basic plot line is in the town of Perdidio Beach, California, every person 15 years and over disappears without a trace and a massive dome surrounds the area, trapping the remaining children.
Nicknamed the FAYZ by resident jerk Howard, the children try to figure out how to escape.
However, things get worse and certainly weirder when many of them begin to develop strange powers.
Our main character is Sam Temple, a boy who does not want to be the leader but steps up anyway for the good of everyone… yeah, this type of protagonist has been done before but Sam is likeable enough.
On the opposing side is Caine Soren, an ambitious boy who wants to rule the FAYZ by any means necessary.
Gone is certainly a unique book due to the strange things that happen, along with a large group of strong, likeable characters, from the heroic Sam, to the smart Astrid, to the loyal Edilio, to the one step away from being a serial killer Drake.
OK, maybe Drake isn’t likeable but he is still interesting.
The book has many twists and turns ranging from the fantastic to the just plain weird.
However, this also works against the book as well as for it because sometimes the story feels like it is getting pretty ridiculous.
When I got to the part about the coyotes (which I won’t spoil) I almost stopped reading all together because it just seemed too ridiculous to me.
There are also story elements introduced in this book that are never brought up again and various contradictions.
The character of Astrid is revealed to have a power, which is never mentioned again in subsequent books and Edilio says his brother is fighting in Afghanistan, even though in later books it is established he and his family are illegal immigrants hiding from the police out of fear of deportation.
This book raises many questions but satisfyingly answers a few of them and doesn’t leave you completely clueless.
It is a great start for the series and, given this is the weakest of the books, it only gets better from here.
Hunger, the second book in the series, is much better than its predecessor Gone.
This book is the third best in the series, with an even more gripping story than last time.
It’s been three months since the showdown in Gone and starvation is starting to set in as the children run low on food.
Worse still, a group of kids known as the Human Crew form and discriminate against those with powers and, to top it all off, Caine has returned from his visit to the Gaiaphage and now has a plan to defeat Sam and his friends.
Hunger is just one bad scenario happening on top of another, even worse, scenario that Sam must deal with.
Because of this Hunger has a feeling of dread throughout, which comes with a much darker tone than the first book as it deals with complex social issues such as racism.
Hunger not only delivers in terms of a gripping story but in terms of its characters as well, giving each of them an interesting arc.
It even fully introduces us to some of the characters who didn’t stand out in Gone like Dekka, who would later go on to become my favourite character.
This book also has even weirder stuff than the previous one but it’s OK this time since we have had time to get used to the weirdness after the first book so it doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous this time.
A great read throughout and making you really care about the characters, Hunger is a definite step up from its predecessor.
Most people consider Lies to be the worst book in the series and it is easy to see why, as it mostly consists of people standing around and talking.
However, I disagree with this because Lies still manages to deliver with its storytelling, world building and characters, both introducing new ones and expanding on old ones.
Sam has never looked weaker in the entire series as he suffers mentally from the horrific torture he suffered in Hunger and the possible return of an old foe.
Although this book does contain a lot of discussion among the characters it still delivers on exciting moments around the middle and end of the book, with both the Human Crew and the Gaiaphage causing trouble.
In the meantime, Caine and his crew are dealing with the devastating effects of starvation, leading to one of the darkest moments in the entire series and a pivotal moment for the character of Diana.
We are also introduced to the very entertaining Sanjit, one of the only people smart enough (or dumb enough, depending on how you look at it) to make fun of Caine.
This book also throws an interesting twist into the mix, although it would have been better if the twist wasn’t so obvious.
The only major problem I have with Lies is that it makes the character of Astrid very annoying in comparison to previous books, where she was likeable.
She came across as more arrogant here rather than smart and her failure to understand how a situation should be handled was very problematic.
Overall Lies may be the second weakest book in the series but it still introduces interesting story elements and characters that make it a great read.
The greatest book in the entire series, Plague is gripping from start to finish, delivering both the most intense entry in the entire series and the darkest.
The deaths in Plague are the very definition of horrifying and one character meets a fate worse than death at the end of the book.
However, this book works not just because of the horror but because of how the other characters react to it.
Never before or since in the series have I felt such camaraderie between the characters.
This was the book that propelled Dekka to my favourite character as her story arc in this book is nothing short of exceptional, essentially making her the hero of this book, not Sam.
Even the comedy is done well, introducing one of the funniest characters in the series Toto.
This book also highlights what is so great about the Gone series, diversity.
The Gone series has the most diverse set of characters in any book series and this book shows that best, with some of its most important characters being that of a different race and/or sexuality.
The diversity also comes across as very natural and does not feel like the writer is just inserting it to make himself look good.
As well as this, Plague is the first book in the series that really plants the seeds for the endgame of the explosive final battle, with two key events that will lead to that moment happening in this book.
Plague is a perfect book.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Delivering laughs, moments of extreme horror and heartbreak, and setting the stage for the final confrontation two books from now, Plague is a truly great read and one of my favourite books of all time.
The second to last book in the series Fear is basically set up for the final book but, even so, it still delivers an intense experience as the Gaiaphage makes its move to take over the FAYZ, through horrifying means.
Fear is better than Lies but not as good as Hunger as we see the characters realise the end is coming and they must unite to stop the Gaiaphage from achieving its goal or they will all die.
This is easily the most depressing of the books as the characters hardly ever get a win and realise that doom is slowly approaching.
Once again, the character development is excellently handled.
Props go to the standout character Penny, who easily beats Drake in the psycho department.
Michael Grant sure does know how to write violent psychopaths.
However, it is not all good because in this book Grant finally decides to explain what happens when people turn 15 and decide to leave the FAYZ… or at least he tries to explain it.
I was left very confused by the explanation and wondering if maybe there was a point in being afraid of what happened when people left at all.
From start to finish Fear has you constantly wondering what will happen next, until its incredible cliff hanger ending leaves us feeling both uncertain and with an impending sense of doom for what is to come in the final book.
The final book in the series and the second best overall, Light is a fitting conclusion to the epic series that began with Gone.
With the Gaiaphage now loose in human form, the endgame for the series finally happens and it is bloody.
If you cried at any point when reading the other books I would suggest you bring a tissue box when reading this one because Michael Grant goes all George R. R. Martin on us and kills off almost half the characters.
The characters are tested in ways they have never been tested before, faced with an impossible foe to beat.
The character arcs in this book are the best the series has given, especially Caine’s who had the perfect conclusion to his story.
Each character has a fitting end, whether they live or die and almost no one is over looked.
Light is gripping from start to finish and was well on its way to being the best in the series… but then the ending happened.
It is a good ending, don’t get me wrong but it is very rushed.
The entirety of this book (you could even argue the entirety of the series) has been building up to a final battle between two characters and when this climactic battle finally happens it’s over in a couple of paragraphs.
It should have been two pages, at least.
Even the epilogue is rushed as some important characters get very short paragraphs explaining what happened to them, some important characters don’t get an epilogue at all and, worst of all, we don’t know if some characters survived the final battle.
So, while Light is an amazing conclusion to the series, the ending is very rushed and prevents it from being a truly excellent novel like Plague was.
Still it was a great way to end the series.
The Gone series is without a doubt my favorite book series.
It is a truly excellent series, which only stumbles occasionally.
I only have one question.
Why hasn’t there been a TV adaptation already?
This series is practically begging to be adapted to television, with its wide range of characters, gripping storytelling and overall fantastical weirdness.
I had heard things about a TV adaptation for a while but recently no new information has surfaced.
I can only hope that, with the release of Monster on October 17, interest will sour again and it can finally be adapted.
(Fans of the Gone series will get that pun)