by Michael Grant [Rating: 5/loved (1-5/hated-loved)]Hunger
by Michael Grant [Rating: 5/loved]Lies
by Michael Grant [Rating: 4/liked]Plague
by Michael Grant [Rating: 5/loved]Fear
by Michael Grant [Rating: 5/loved]Light
by Michael Grant [Rating: 5/loved]
The better a book, the more its flaws stand out to me. I had a hard time rating these books. On one hand, I could easily give them all 5/loved -- I flew through them, I read them nonstop, I stayed up late and got up early so I could read. I got offline early and often for them. But, because they're so good, the few problems stood out more.
The first two books were flawless. Gone sets the scene for the series: A small beach town in California, when suddenly all the adults and people 15 or older vanish. Soon enough the kids discover they're actually trapped in the town and a small bit of the surrounding area.
While these are young adult books, they're brutal. Kids get killed. Lots of kids get killed. Kids are tortured, starve to death, and some of them do very bad things. (The only thing that didn't happen in the book was rape, and I think one character was getting darned close to that.)
At book three, the writing changed. It was different enough that I wondered if Grant let his wife write it or something (she's an author, too). Multiple sentence fragments in every paragraph:Mark was hungry. And Dave was too. And Mike was. But Debbie had just caught a rat. The four started a fire to cook it.
That sort of thing could be used as a stylistic choice, but it happened nonstop. It happened in all character dialogue (which sadly made the characters sound too alike). It had to be an issue with the author -- but why, when the first two books were fine? I didn't learn the answer until I was done with the series: He had a change of editors mid-series. The new one must not have made him fix them. It's too bad, because the endless fragments were very distracting and more than a few times knocked me out of the story.
As the series went on, things got darker and darker (literally and otherwise!). In the first book we learn that a few people (and animals) have developed powers. Some were useful, like the ability to create light, some weren't, like turning green when embarrassed.
The kids split early on, "good guys" and "bad guys". A school for problem children was within this cut-off area, so there were plenty of bad guys to go around (including a sociopath/sadist).
Kids cut off with no adults would be problem enough, but there was also an Evil Thing trapped in there with them.
The final book was the biggest problem for me. I'll try to explain as best I can without big spoilers, but there will be some medium to good sized ones:
As an adult, if you knew 300 or so kids had been trapped alone, starving, with no adults, for a year or so, would you be at all surprised that some of them had killed? Maybe it's just me, but the behavior of the kids didn't surprise me -- they did awful things, but some kids would without adult supervision. In the book, the adults were shocked and wanted to put the kids (yes kids, 15 and under) on trial for murder for what happened in the town. Did none of them ever read Lord of the Flies? The adults knew about the powers -- they saw them first hand. I didn't buy their reactions at all. Not to mention, this is set in California; we're not too big on putting kids on trial for murder!
However, as I said in the beginning of this post, these books were really, really good. I can't believe they were YA, they were so dark and brutal. Also, Grant accomplished something few writers do: I didn't mind the romance in the book. There were two main couples, one I didn't mind and the other I liked a lot. That's really rare for me.
Sony has acquired the rights to the book, to make into a TV series. I'm kind of really looking forward to that, though very very very worried how much they'll have to change for TV.
I know some people on my friends list don't want to read books with kid-deaths in them. If you're one of them, avoid this series like the plague! However, if you're not, I highly recommend the Gone series. While it's not 100% perfect, it's really, really good.
Edit: On second thought, I bumped up all non-5 ratings by one. I really did love these books, it's unfair to let mostly small issues lower the ratings so much.
Edit 2: Huh. It wasn't just me who didn't like Lies as much as the other. The TV Tropes page
says "Lies wasn't as well received as Gone or Hunger, though whether or not it deserved such a response is a matter of taste, but most people agree that the preceding book, Plague is brilliant and is often cited as the best in the series.".
Very happily, he's all for fanart, fanfic, fan-made videos, etc. He's an active member on fansites! Other authors should take note. :)
Tags: 2014 books, book: fear, book: gone, book: hunger, book: lies, book: light, book: plague
Current Mood: tired