Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gone by Michael Grant

   I've learned my lesson now: don't put off reviews, because by the time you finally do get around to writing them, your thoughts and opinions on the book will have gone stale and all you'll be able to pull out are a few tangled praises and redundant criticisms. 

  Well, I guess I have to go into what this book is about. Problem is, I don't know how. It's one of those where you can try to explain or summarize it by going off the back cover or whatever, but whatever you can put into two or three sentences won't be nearly enough to cover the entire freakin' idea. 

   It starts with a bunch of kids living in a fictional SoCal city called Perdido Beach. The main {???} character, Sam Temple, is in school when they disappear–the adults, the young adults, the undergrads–basically, everyone over the age of fifteen just poofs. 

   So, obviously, because children are completely incapable of not slaughtering one another the instant they're left alone, the kids start killing and terrorizing, left and right. Think Lord of the Flies, except with a McDonalds. 

   But wait, there's more–a select few of the kids discover that they're actually radioactive mutants with superpowers. And that there are also radioactive mutant animals out there in the wilderness. Like giant, talking coyotes that eat small children. Also, the private school kids are lead by a literal fucking teenage sociopath named Caine, who actually turns out to be his less-evil equivalent's brother. 

  Rereading all of that, I realize that I sound really pissed off, but I'm not. I mean, I get picky about a lot of things, but I'll accept the most ridiculous plotlines in the world if they're written well. {Hey, I'm from the generation that worships an English boarding school for tween wizards.}

   Problematically, GONE wasn't written all that well. The language was oftentimes clunky, the grammar severely lacking in places. {It always pisses me off when I find a significant amount of bad grammar in published books. A few scattered instances I can overlook, but at a certain point, just–Editors, hello? Are you alive in there?} 

   And before I get into literary devices and characterization and all that, can I just take a moment to talk about the cover? Because it's ridiculous. Every time I look at it, my eyes are immediately drawn to those massive scarlet lips on Astrid. {???} They just–what? I have the book on my desk now, and I just keep going back to that mouth.

   Okay, now that I've stacked three other books on top of my copy of GONE, let's talk characters! We have the obvious flaws, of course–those being Sam Temple, Mr. Obnoxious, Boring White Bread Perfect; the dumb sidekick whose sole purpose in life is to make his master boyfriend husbando best friend look good in comparison to his dumb ass; and the bad guy who's literally evil for no reason. {Seriously, Caine, you're from a rich family that probably loved and cared for you just fine. At this point it doesn't matter if you're adopted, you're fifteen, asshole, and you have no right to be a fucking PSYCHOPATHIC MURDERER JFC.}

   On the other side of that scale, though, we have characters like Edilio, the butt-kicking Hispanic kid who doesn't boast any superpowers but manages to be adorable and thoroughly likeable at the same time. Also, we get to see Sam redeem himself slightly by calling his weak-ass friend Quinn out on his racist bullshit. Fuck yeah, friendship. Plus there's Lana, the healer who has an adorable dog named after Patrick Star, and who manages to be pretty incredible even when faced with crazy mutant coyotes who want her to teach them how to kill humans and basically take over the world. And then, if the two of them couldn't get awesome enough, they totally start crushing on each other. 

   But then we have Astrid the Genius. I was really badly conflicted on this character when I first read about her–I mean, a super-smart girl who's also incredibly attractive and basically sounds kind of like a {sorry} flat Annabeth Chase rip-off? I kind of just sat there praying, hoping that she wouldn't let me down by being a jerk or an idiot, but nah. She turned out okay. I was pretty pleased when her little brother was introduced, and how Grant showed her caring for him even though she had conflicting feelings about doing so, etc. I just don't feel too passionately for her, you know? But respect for the lady, man. I'm ashamed to say that if I were put in that situation, with that kind of sibling, knowing what I knew, I would probably just ditch him or kill him. Yes, that makes me a terrible person, I know, we've established this already–but honestly speaking, wouldn't most of you? I doubt pity would serve you well in a place like the FAYZ.

   OH GOD I JUST REMEMBERED. WHAT A STUPID NAME. What the hell did it even stand for in the first place? Fallout Alley Youth Zone? {I didn't look that up, so if it's wrong, whatever.} Who the hell comes up with shit like that. I bet one kid was just, like, super stoned, as was all 'ha ha fayz rhymes with blaze. blaze on. 420.' or whatever it is stoned teenagers say. {Or stoned authors, either way.}

   Anyway, yeah, the whole plot twist with the little kid actually kind of caught me off-guard. In a pleasant way, actually. Even though it really didn't explain much of anything at all, I liked how that all sort of pieced together. Also, fuck avoiding spoilers, if you're bothering to read this review, you've probably read the book anyway. Astrid's autistic little brother created the FAYZ thing to stop a nuclear meltdown, and somehow accidentally managed to send all the adults packing and possibly create some mysterious giant monster thing with a dumb name. The Darkness. Man, what is it with this book and dumb names?

   So I left this review sitting around for a while, and I don't remember my train of thought AT ALL, so I'm just gonna leave it off here.

   I gave the damn thing three stars because I honestly have no idea where to stand on it. On one hand, it wasn't all that entertaining, which made it tedious, but on the other, it wasn't really terrible in a way that could make me hate it. And three stars is kind of my go-to thing for when I can't decide which way I lean with a book, so boom. Here ya go.

OVERALL RATING:  ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆