In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young. There are teens, but not one single adult. 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. . . .
Gone was one of those books where the premise, the buzz (I mean Stephen King on the cover—it must be good right!) and the book itself was exciting, engaging and stress-inducing until the last chapters. It literally was 10 stars until it got to the climax of the story where my rating deflated to an 8 like an untied balloon left flying.
Let me explain spoiler-free. Many writing teachers/books speak of promises—again we’re talking for a single book—where you establish your questions and promises and answer them in the final chapters. A good example is how Brandon Sanderson (in Mistborn) set many promises early on and literally covered them all in the last pages. You could read only the first Mistborn book and be satisfied and not have to purchase the second or third book to fulfill those promises. The first book worked on its own. This is not what Michael did in Gone, he created several elements—some dire—that needed to be resolved in the first book, teased us in the final pages and said no-no, you’ll have to wait for the following books to get this exceptional climax. To me, that is a frustrating experience as a reader and something I’d avoid at all cost in my writing. It feels like a ploy for selling more books or lazy writing (not knowing how to end this specific thread).
Besides this, everything else was great; I mean it was a 10 until the climax. We got an in-depth view of each character and exploration of their motivations, their background story and some subtlety around who possessed powers and why. It was impressive to see how 10-14-year-olds would react to events typically handled by adults, such as being the local firefighters, managing a daycare, etc.. And if you read this book on audio, the narrator truly goes wild with voicing each character.
The plot was well paced, always bringing new mysterious elements to the story to enhance the sci-fi, mystery or testing our characters. What I really loved about Gone was how detailed the settings were and how immersive they made us truly get into the story. It felt real, it felt current.
Michael’s prose is accessible and totally allows anyone to read these books as they’re probably meant as YA or middle grade literature. Therefore, you don’t get lost in the complexity of verbiage or terms created for the story certain books delve into sometimes.
If you know this book is meant as a series, and you’ll have to progress through for the big conclusion, then Gone will bring you on a mysterious and appealing journey meeting all the checks of urban dystopian sci-fi.