This latest instalment in Michael Grant’s Gone series is not out for another month. Sorry. But I can’t wait that long, so here goes.
As people have discussed on Michael’s facebook page, someone we know will die. Very true. But that death is almost nothing compared to the general grossness of what happens to both those whom we like and those we can’t wait to see the end of. And does evil trump crazy? Or is it the other way round?
It really isn’t a book for the genteel tastes of us adults, but I am hooked, nevertheless. The sixth and last book can’t come too soon. I’d like to think that even younger readers will be feeling some revulsion over what happens. Descriptions like ‘her skin was the colour and texture of a well-glazed ham’ and ‘he still looked like a microwaved action figure’ are not the loveliest of phrases in a book for young readers. Or even older ones. But I have developed a callous mind when it comes to Gone.
And with Fear we can see that maybe this weird thing can and will come to an end. Perhaps. But things will never be the same, for either the children inside the FAYZ or the adults on the Outside. We finally get to see some of what happens on the Outside.
What is so good – and much more than any adventure aspect – is how the children are working together, and going back to basics. What western child would cry over a ruined crop of vegetables in this day and age? Could a child stitch someone else’s serious injury? Can they even sew?
Darkness is rising in Fear, in more ways than the obvious one. As ever it’s fascinating to see how each individual reacts to what the FAYZ throws at them. You can like the bad ones (previously good, perhaps) and dislike the good children. The way they change their loyalties every now and then is most lifelike.
When things are at their darkest, we find several unlikely pairs of people out in the wilderness, and it’s how they behave which tells you a lot more than when they conform to their respective groups. There is depth in unexpected places, and I don’t mean the mine, and perhaps also more shallowness where you didn’t think it would appear.
I am sure Michael’s writing has improved. Not that he hadn’t written ‘hundreds’ of books before Gone, but with each book I see something better. I need to go back to the first one, if only to check up on what I’ve long forgotten. But the ‘unnecessary’ secondary plot in Gone that one of my dearest readers felt should have been skipped, is something we really couldn’t have done without.
For the record, my favourites are not the top guys. It’s people like Sanjit, Edilio and Quinn. And who’d have thought Orc would shape up so well?