In the sequel to 2008's Gone, things have only gotten worse for the kids trapped in the small area around Perdido Beach, Calif. After three months, they still have no contact with the outside world, more dangerous mutant animals are cropping up and food supplies are becoming perilously scarce. Even as Caine starts to recover from the confrontation with the town leader (and half-brother) Sam, the evil gaiaphage exerts its influence, manipulating Caine and others in a plan to gain more power. The ongoing divide between kids who have developed powers and ones who haven't also threatens to lead to violence. Grant throws everything at the children, from gory deaths every bit as nasty as in mainstream horror to sexual tension, eating disorders and drug use. The large cast of characters-from a variety of racial and sexual backgrounds-might be hard for some to keep track of, but readers looking for intense, nearly nonstop action and emotional drama will find lots to enjoy, even as the climactic ending sets up another sequel. Ages 12-up. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Stacey Hayman
It is three months after everyone fifteen or older has vanished, and youth in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) are barely surviving. Food is extremely scarce, and the young people are reduced to eating random canned goods, garbage, and at least one neighborhood pet. Sam is beginning to cave under the pressure of being in charge, and it is only getting worse as the general population becomes more apathetic about working toward their own survival. Conflict between the norms (normal youth) and the moofs (mutant freaks) escalates until there is an attempted lynching. The mysterious Darkness, naming itself a gaiaphage, is growing stronger, and it is working on a plan toward ultimate dominance of the FAYZ, but it needs a fuel rod from the nuclear power plant to succeed. Unable to break his connection from the gaiaphage, Caine attempts to appease it by taking the power plant from Sam and his people, but can either boy claim a victory if the Darkness gets what it needs? Readers will be unable to avoid involuntarily gasping, shuddering, or flinching while reading this suspense-filled story. The tension starts in the first chapter and does not let up until the end. Some of the questions from Gone (HarperTeen, 2008/VOYA April 2008) are answered, but they leave new questions in their wake. The story is progressing with smart plot twists, both in actions and in emotions. If this reader has one regret while reading this series, it would be that this entry is only book two in a proposed six book series. The next cannot come soon enough. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman
Children's Literature - Traci Avalos
Three months have passed since the events of Gone, and the children of the FAYZ are learning what it means to grow up fast. With no adults around to monitor their behavior, the few hundred children left after the disappearances ate all of the non-perishable food and left the rest to rot. Now left with little food, they must figure out how to produce food or face starvation. While hunger is an immediate threat, they must deal with a multitude of other problems, like how to take care of the many small children and run a safe new civilization without anybody over the age of thirteen. Many of the children are trying to cope with abilities (such as healing and super-speed), and more children are developing these strange abilities every day. If that is not enough, animals and insects are developing sinister mutations, and the threat of attack from a looming monster and disassembled groups of children is always present. In this second title in the "Gone" series, Grant will keep young adult readers enthralled right from the shocking first pages. The characters are not perfectthey make bad decisions and feel a wide range of human emotionsyet this makes them feel more real to the reader. The multitude of character perspectives would lend itself well to character analysis activities, in addition to keeping both boys and girls interested in the narration. This would work well as a bridge book or a supplement to Lord of the Flies, though it likely has too many elements of horror to be used as a full-class text. Reviewer: Traci Avalos
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–In the second in a planned six-book series, the children of Perdito Beach, CA, have survived without adults for three months following the FAYZ, a nuclear event that caused everyone over the age of 14 to vanish and an impenetrable barrier to rise for 20 miles around the town. Now their food is almost gone, and in their desperation and fear, the young people are beginning to sort themselves into factions; those without special powers opposing those who have them. To add to the suspense, a terrifying presence that calls itself the Gaiaphage, a being of overwhelming hunger, is insinuating itself into the minds of the susceptible. Like Gone (HarperTeen, 2008), this novel is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Nonstop action and recurring scenes of graphic violence, death, and torture will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they race toward the climactic cliff-hanger ending. Give this to teens who liked Stephen King’s The Stand (Doubleday, 1990) or William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (Penguin, 1959).–Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
As their numbers diminish, the kids of the FAYZ struggle to survive. Food is strictly rationed. Killer worms haunt fruit and vegetable fields. Sam, the 15-year-old mayor of Perdido Beach, has to settle petty disputes among the trapped FAYZ residents. When more kids develop superpowers, Perdido Beach's population begins to split into Team Mutant and Team Normal. Sam, however, has bigger problems than the town's splintering. His evil twin brother, Caine, has awakened after three months of delirium, and Caine has big plans to destroy Sam's town. The breathtaking pace, thrilling action and gruesome monsters of Gone (2008) are back in a big way. Unfortunately, so are the stilted dialogue, the frustration that comes from the author writing much and saying very little and blatant sexism. In one passage, Sam "is struck by" how "good" an 81-pound anorexic girl looks. Sam's beautiful genius girlfriend, Astrid, only once thinks a negative thought about having to care for her autistic five-year-old brother. Readers who have not read Gone will be lost, thanks to an inadequate recap. Missable. (Science fiction. 12 & up)