by Michael Grant (Author)
Four books in and Michael Grant’s Gone series shows no sign of. From a very simple ‘now why didn’t I think of that’ concept - everyone over the age of 15 disappears after a small American town is surrounded by a mysterious force field - Grant has developed a memorable, hard-hitting story with well defined characters, a strong plot and an ever-increasing body count.
In Plague, the survivors’ situation has deteriorated further. Barely surviving on whatever vegetables and fish they can find, they now have to contend with a killer disease that seemingly has no cure and a new breed of mutant scavenger that’s virtually indestructible. All the while, lurking in the background, waiting to strike once more, is the evil gaiaphage and its physical manifestation, the mutated boy Drake.
What makes Plague so readable is that, apart from the page-turning story, all of the main characters are, in their own way, deeply flawed. With no adult presence inside the dome, they have to face issues such as drugs and alcohol dependency, sexuality, mental disability and eating disorders on their own. These issues arise as a natural consequence of the children’s situation and it is to Grant’s credit that he never resorts to moralising or preaching and each characters coming to terms with their individual problems is handled with skill and empathy.
Less successful are the new children introduced in the current volume. They seem to have been included purely to add some variety to a familiar cast but they fail to register as more than supporting characters and have had, so far, no real impact on the main story or the same resonance with the reader as the established crew. This, however, is only a minor criticism in what is turning out to be one of the most exciting YA reads of the past few years. With two volumes yet to hit the shelves, the series is building to a memorable climax that I, for one, cannot wait for.
This review was published online in