Amongst the vast amount of dystopian style young adult novels currently vying for attention, the Gone series is one that stands out high amongst all the others. The most common description for the six books amongst fans is ‘Imagine if Stephen King wrote Lord of The Flies’, and that’s about as accurate a description as you can get. Stephen King has praised the books himself saying ‘”These are exciting, high-tension stories told in a driving, torrential narrative that never lets up. There are monsters, there are kids with mad-crazy super powers, there’s the mystery of where all the adults went. Most of all, there are children I can believe in and root for. This is great fiction’ and the series draws some parallels to his novel and subsequent TV adaptation Under the Dome.
The town of Perdido Beach is hit by a very strange anomaly – everyone aged 15 and over disappears at once. The remaining children, from newborns to teenagers, are left trapped in an impenetrable and clouded bubble, shutting them out from the rest of the world. The kids soon begin to refer to their imprisoned world as the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone), and local teenager Sam Temple steps up as a leader when the town’s children look to him for help as chaos ensues. The FAYZ has also left various human and animal members of the town with supernatural abilities, whilst deep in the desert a mysterious darkness threatens them all. Sam and his friends must struggle to create a working society whilst battling the power hungry, and often cruel children, from nearby Coates Academy who want to take power over the remaining members of the FAYZ.
For a series of young-adult novels, the books can get incredibly dark as the children are forced to grow up at an alarming rate. Coates Academy student Drake Merwin in particular is highly sadistic, and the main characters are thrust into situations of torture, death and violence. The majority of the characters are morally grey, and their struggles see them flirting with the line of good and evil more than once. The stakes are high, and along with a cast of well rounded, well developed characters, the plot moves fast, with many twists and turns. The representation in the Gone series also deserves praise: there are gay and lesbian characters, characters of different races, and even characters with mental illnesses. Writer Michael Grant has created an intense, hard-edged world with characters you will care deeply for, and worry for, as they struggle against everything from the threat of the supernatural to the demons in their own minds, left alone in a world without adults much too young.
Sony Pictures Television had acquired rights to produce Gone as a TV series, with writer Joe Barton recently joining the project with an aim to write a script for a pilot. Whilst it may be a while before a show based on the books is created, you still have plenty of time to binge read them this summer.