One minute the adults of Perdido Beach, California, are there, the next, they’re Gone. Left behind are kids and teens below the ages of 15, finally free of boring parental rules and school. It sounds like fun, but they are soon facing terror of a new kind – hunger, crumbling society, mutant powers and (wait for it) The Darkness bitterly trying to destroy their world.

Gone by Michael Grant is one of the best book series’ I’ve ever read. I started Book 1 about a week ago and I haven’t stopped reading, chewing up all 5 books of the series (Book Six, Light, was released on the 3rd of April)! It is so gripping, intensely written, witty and just really, really good! Gone is like Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games meets X-Men with the bloodthirstyness of Game of Thrones and brilliance of Harry Potter.

So with that in mind, the basic outline of the series goes kinda like this…

Everyone over the age of 15 disappears and a mysterious dome appears, trapping kids in Perdido Beach, a quiet town that was once the fall out zone of a nuclear meltdown at the power plant. Forced to step up and take control of the situation is Sam Temple, Sam’s best friends Quinn, and Astrid the Genius. Together they try to bring some sense of order and work out why they have become trapped in The FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone).

Coates Academy is the boarding school for troubled teens, really troubled teens, and a bunch of total psychopath teens. Caine and Diana, along with a team of bullies (read ‘complete psychopaths’), try to take over the new town, but their motives are sinister and leads to all out war. But between their fights and the struggle for survival, there is something darker in the FAYZ. Something moving in the Darkness.

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The kids have to work together to maintain society while trying to save their world and their lives. There are twists and turns you won’t see coming and nail biting action that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Gone is a fantastic read for teens fifteen and above. I’m picking fifteen because there is a lot of blood and violence, a lot of gory descriptions and starvation so realistic you’ll get hungry just reading it. Grant doesn’t skimp on detail when it comes to describing a fight or an injury, and in book 4, Plague, I was feeling a little green. There are some pretty skin crawling situations in the series, along with a very high death toll! Gone makes The Hunger Games look like a friendly picnic.

But within all the epic-ness, there are some facepalm moments and some ‘come on, how could you miss, he was three feet in front of you!’ moments (there are points awarded if you can spot that obvious reference there…) But it all works perfectly because these are 15 year olds facing a totally out of control situation. Grant really understands the motivations and thinking of teenagers, so characters are realistic — they make mistakes, they come up with great plans. They break the rules, they save the day. The suspense, horror and heroism continues right up to the final page of book 6, Light. 

Gone also sets itself apart from other YA novels in the Sci-Fi universe with its moral themes, reminiscent of Harry Potter, the characters are put through the most extreme test of faith, courage and working out what’s right in a world that’s all wrong. I found this to be one of the most intriguing aspects of Grant’s series. Gone is fast-paced action set in a fascinating dystopia. If the Mayan Apocalypse didn’t have you stocking the cupboards in case of emergency, the Gone Series definitely will!

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