Before they ‘poof’

Today’s book, Gone, by Michael Grant is the one I referred to in my post yesterday. It’s also the one that turned up in a comment a couple of weeks ago, when Lee said it was awful. Now, I don’t agree with that. Gone is a bit of a modern Lord of the Flies with some fantasy/horror thrown in, and it’s a fast-paced thriller, which isn’t trying to be great literature. Young readers will like it, and I’d hope that it will also make them think about what matters in life. Good and bad, who your friends are, cause and effect and all that.

It can be hard for us oldies to approve of a book where everyone over the age of fifteen ‘poofs’, ie disappears without a trace. One second they are there, and the next they are not. It may be almost OK for your teacher to poof, and the children quickly got used to their parents having poofed, but actually witnessing their friends poof the minute they turn fifteen, is scary.

So, fourteen-year-olds have to rule this new world, which is quite small. They have been sealed off inside a bubble of what used to be a part of California. It’s exciting, sometimes funny, and it makes for a good sample of modern life, with MacDonalds’ and what-have-you. There is also a young autistic child, who’s fairly well portrayed. The baddie of the story is called Caine, and his counterpart may not be called Abel, but he certainly is able. And male. This is James Bond heroics, but at least the heroine is allowed to be intelligent.

We don’t know why all the strange things that happen have happened. And – SPOILER alert  – we never find out. I don’t like giving things away, but I would have appreciated some early information about this being the first of – how many books?

One young amazon reviewer ‘really hopes there will be a sequel’! Of course there will be a sequel. There has to be. And – I should have done my homework – if you look on amazon the next book is out soon in America. I’ve not found much information about Michael Grant, except Egmont say he co-wrote Animorphs with his wife. He’s not down as an author of Animorphs on Wikipedia, but I did notice there are 58 books in the series…

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8 responses to “Before they ‘poof’

  1. Well, it’s a perennial problem for writers of adventure stories featuring children. How do you get the dull grown-ups out of the way? This solution seems direct and to the point at least – just magic them gone.

  2. I don’t mind the poofing (Love that word, btw. Very childish of me.) so much. Just want to know how and why they poofed. Apart from making it easier to write, I mean.

  3. I was a bit surprised myself to realize that the publishers didn’t list this as a series. But to be honest it didn’t occur to me — I didn’t realize what a problem it was until I realized that probably 90% of what criticism there has been had to do with that one choice.

    In any event, I conceived of GONE as a six book series from the start. I’m just doing the rewrite on Book #3 which will be LIES. Book #2, HUNGER, is out in the States in a month or so.

  4. Thank you, Michael. That clears things up very well. I’d been wondering whether it’d be three books, which is common, but if it’s six, then I think one would approach reading them in a different mindset.

    So, it’ll be some time before we know the reason for the poofing and the bubble and anything else.

  5. In my case, Michael, I will be frank with you: my criticism has very little to do with knowing that Gone is part of a series, which could be inferred from the book itself, though not necessarily that there are going to be five more of them.

  6. There is a review by Mal Peet of Gone in the Guardian today.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/18/gone-michael-grant-book-review

    Interesting to see it so early, since I feel reviews tend to be late in appearing, most of the time. Some reviewers were commenting on this on Facebook the other day.

    And interesting to see how positive Mal is. I hadn’t grasped that Gone is really a computer game in the shape of a book, but it makes sense. Mal is also right that the many internet reviews by young readers is a good sign. Mal foresees at least three books. Six, Mal!

    I gather Mal must have had access to a ‘real’ copy of the book, rather than a proof, since it seems there is a taster from the next book.

  7. Yes, I think Peet offers a good counterbalance to my own very negative views, which of course I have no intention of changing! I’d rather see a literary game than a gamey piece of literature.

    Peet writes:
    ‘Writing the “game novel” involves certain sacrifices, of course, but these are only literary.’

    Arggh, that ‘only literary’! It distresses me to no end when writers themselves don’t realise – or pretend kindly not to realise – that a good piece of fiction is by very definition literary. You can have action, blood gore & sex, and lots of exciting pacey stuff right along with stylish writing and characterisation.

  8. Pingback: Hunger « Bookwitch

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