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Book Review

Gone by Michael Grant has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fourth book in the “Gone” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Life within the FAYZ, or Fallout Alley Youth Zone — the world beneath a dome that has children under 15 trapped in it without adults — continues to worsen. Now that Sam and Astrid have left the council, Edilio struggles to control the children still living in Perdido Beach. Everyone knows, however, that Albert, the boy in charge of rationing food and water, is really the one who runs things. Albert asks Sam to seek out a lake on the edge of the FAYZ because drinkable water is rapidly disappearing. Sam leaves in secret with Dekka and Jack so as not to cause a panic in town.

Drake, the reanimated villain with a deadly whip for an arm, escapes the prison Sam and others devised for him. Called by the gaiphage, Drake searches for the evil entity buried beneath the FAYZ. It also wants Drake to find Nemesis, the only power that can keep it from ruling the FAYZ.

Drake knows that he needs help controlling the other being that inhabits his body, a girl named Brittany. Brittany believes in a holy God and will try to stop the gaiphage’s plans. Drake wants revenge. Drake threatens a boy named Jamal with torture unless he keeps Brittany from ruining his plans.

Astrid has realized that her autistic brother, Little Pete, is the one who created the dome that keeps her and the other children trapped inside the FAYZ. Although she fiercely protects him, she begins to wonder whether his death would free them all. Meanwhile, a deadly flu strikes the town, causing some children to literally cough up their lungs and die.

The gaiphage creates carnivorous insects that bury themselves in their victim until the insect grows too big and must eat its way out. Then they continue growing. The insects hunt their prey in groups and then eat their victims alive.

Sam, Dekka and Jack encounter a horde of the creatures that they must fight. Dekka fears she has been infected by their venom and might have some growing within her. She begs Sam to kill her if they start to leave her body. They discover an abandoned military base where they also find a young boy named Toto. Scientists were studying him in the facility because he has the ability to know when people are telling the truth. Toto leads them to boxcars filled with soda, Nutella, small missiles and laptops. Sam and his friends indulge themselves before taking Toto with them to find the lake.

Lana, a girl with healing power, is unable to cure the flu-infected children. Sanjit, a newcomer to the town — helps her. Sanjit is attracted to Lana. His persistence eventually wins her over.

Caine, Diana and Bug remained on the well-stocked private island that formerly belonged to Sanjit’s celebrity adopted parents. Diana uses her sexuality to try and mellow Caine’s violent personality so he is not so power hungry and manipulative.

Drake is led by the gaiphage to a mineshaft where it is buried. Drake commands the carnivorous insects to remove the rubble that have held the gaiphage prisoner. The creatures rush to do his bidding. The creatures are hungry, so he allows them to eat Jamal. Even though the gaiphage demands Drake find Nemesis, Drake is driven with the desire to find the members of the council — especially Sam and Astrid — and kill them.

Sam and the others are thrilled when they find the lake and learn that the water is drinkable. Gas is also available from several marinas around the lake. It also has fish that the kids can eat. For once, Sam dreams of a happy future.

Little Pete has developed the deadly flu. To ease his fever, he blows off the roof of his house and creates rain. Orc, a boy who has been mutated to stone, sees the rain and investigates. Orc fears the council’s retribution because he accidently killed a child.

A gang of violent boys also sees the rain. They realize Pete must be creating it. They want to kidnap him so they can gain power within the FAYZ. Edilio arrives, and the boys tell him they have killed Albert. They threaten to kill Pete if the others try to stop them from taking him. Edilio shoots two of the boys, severely injuring them so they cannot hurt Astrid or Pete. Astrid asks Orc for help, and he carries Pete away from the house to the abandoned Coate’s Academy.

Ten miles below the earth’s crust, Brittany’s consciousness, not Drake’s, meets the gaiphage. The creature is a made up of billions of sand-like particles that live on the barrier below the earth. It keeps them trapped in FAYZ.

She cries out to God, but the gaiphage invades her mind, convincing her that it is an all-powerful creature from another universe, a god. It tells her that Nemesis must serve him so that it can leave this cocoon and live. She knows that Nemesis is Little Pete.

When Drake emerges, he is thrilled to learn the gaiphage desires he kill all those who will not serve it — all of Drake’s enemies. He sets off with half the insect army behind him to find Sam at the lake. After a violent battle, Sam, Dekka, Toto and Jack manage to escape and make their way back to the military base.

The bugs have infected Dekka, and they are beginning to eat their way out of her body. Using the last of her strength, she uses her powers to levitate the train car filled with missiles, with her friends on top of it, to Perdido Beach. When they crash into the ocean, Sam stays behind to try and keep Dekka alive as the insects leave her body. He sends Jack to find Little Pete, telling him to throw Pete to the insects, as it is the only way any of them will survive.

Edilio has the flu and believes Albert to be dead. He then learns that Drake is sending an army of mutant insects to town. Without Sam’s powers to protect them, Edilio makes the drastic decision to ask Caine for his help. Caine returns to Perdido Beach with Diana and his other followers. He insists that he be revered as a king before he will help them. They agree, calling him “Majesty” and bowing to him. But when the creatures attack, they soon overwhelm Caine. He barely survives the onslaught and must rely on another mutant for help.

After failing to kill Sam, Drake sets off to find Little Pete and Astrid. Astrid, though, is no longer near her brother. Orc fights to protect Pete until Astrid returns. Drake transforms into Brittany, and Orc throws her to the insect horde, but they do not attack her. Orc jumps down into their midst, intentionally trying to kill himself so the bugs will be distracted with him, allowing Astrid to escape.

Drake re-emerges, but Jack arrives before Drake can attack Astrid. As Drake and Jack fight, Astrid comes to the decision that it is better her brother die, and the FAYZ with it, than the gaiphage should be allowed to kill everyone who does not follow it. She throws her brother into the horde of insects. Pete makes the insects disappear before vanishing himself. Drake transforms into Brittany, and she warns Astrid that the gaiphage will seek revenge on her for ruining his plan. Jack brings Astrid and the injured Orc to safety before Drake returns. He takes Astrid to Sam, where she confesses that she killed Pete. She becomes distraught when she realizes that it did not set them free and they remain within the FAYZ. She flees before anyone can console her.

Back in Perdido Beach, Caine takes credit for the disappearance of the insects and forces the survivors to bow to him. Several days later, the children of the FAYZ gather in the town center to make a decision. Those who remain in Perdido Beach will live with Caine as their king. Albert, who survived his brutal attack, will stay in town.

By doing so, he effectively stops Caine from becoming a dictator as every kid knows it is Albert who controls the distribution of food and water. Albert insists that Toto remain in town as well, as his gift of being a human lie detector will prevent Caine from being too dishonest. Sam is surprised when Diana asks to join him and his group who are going to live up by the lake. She confesses to him that she is pregnant with Caine’s baby and does not want him to know. Astrid never comes back, and Sam, reluctantly, leaves without her.

The novel ends from Little Pete’s perspective. He has left his body behind, but his consciousness is free n some other realm. He can see the Darkness also called the gaiphage below him, but knows it is afraid of him. He enjoys the sensation of being alive, without the constraints of his autistic brain and sick body.

Christian Beliefs

At first Brittany has a strong Christian faith. Diana hopes that her role in saving Sanjit and his siblings will redeem her in God’s eyes. Astrid believes if she gives in to her desire to have sex with Sam, it will be one more way that she has abandoned of her faith. Dekka talks about how some kids pray for the barrier to stay in place so they can keep their special powers, while others pray for the barrier to come down.

Other Belief Systems

Brittany begs Sam to kill her so that she can go to heaven. Later, while in a church, she begs for Jesus to kill her. She believes Sam may be God’s tool to liberate her. She also believes her dead brother speaks to her as an angel.

Dekka makes Sam swear by whatever he believes in to kill her before the creatures chew their way out of her body. Sam and his friends equate eating Nutella with communion.

A boy believes that God has allowed the insects to burrow inside his body because of his sin. He wonders if the angels will still come and take him to heaven when he dies. He repeats a childhood prayer before Sam mercifully kills him. A character derides Jesus when he hears about what happened, saying that Sam is providing more help than Jesus.

Drake accepts the Darkness, also called the gaiphage, as his god and allows it to fill his heart and soul. When the gaiphage “speaks” to Brittany, she lets go of her faith in Christianity and accepts the role of the gaiphage as a god. She realizes her brother was never an angel, but a tool of the gaiphage.

The gaiphage explains that it and Nemesis are two beings in one, like she is one with Drake. It needs Nemesis to be alone and serving it so that it can be reborn. Edilio prays to Mary to help him survive the flu. Astrid’s faith is weakened throughout the book. At one point she says that right and wrong do not come from God. She says that even if God commanded her to kill someone, it would be wrong.

Dekka pretends she is floating up to heaven as she levitates the train car. Brittany argues with Astrid that the gaiphage is a god. It uses her just as God used John the Baptist to announce His coming and Judas to betray Him. She says that Jesus was just a sacrifice to appease a vengeful God. Astrid’s belief that the lives of the many outweigh the life of one echoes that of Caiaphas in the Bible (John 18:14).

Authority Roles

None

Profanity/Violence

God’s name is used in vain with Oh, thank and sake. The euphemism Jeez is uttered. B--ch, d--n and h--- are used. Other objectionable words are crap, jerkwad, dyke, pee, p---ed and cocky. A character “flips off” someone.

The story is filled with extreme violence and gory details. Sam remembers Mary, the daycare worker, leading the preschoolers off a cliff to their death. Caine caused another girl to fall from a great height, which broke her legs so terribly she will never walk again and is in tremendous pain. The death of those who succumb to the flu is described in detail. Their bodies are wracked with pain as they violently cough. Eventually, they spew pieces of their lungs from their mouths.

A boy kills a lion by using his powers to “cook” its brain inside its head. He is the first victim of the gaiphage’s insects. He feels the creatures inside his shoulder. One chews through the skin and but remains in his shoulder for some time, its mouth biting anything and anyone that comes near it. The boy eventually tries to burn himself to kill the creatures inside him.

Sam and his friends watch as the insects eat their way out of the boy’s body while he is still alive. It is described in gory detail. Sam uses the light from his hands to kill the boy by burning him. Orc punches Brittany so hard she flies into a cinderblock wall. He tosses Jamal down a hole in the floor of a house, dislocating his shoulder. Orc, in a drunken rage, accidently kills a young boy by hitting him too hard.

Drake has a deadly whip for an arm that he uses to torture people. Brittany begs Jamal to shoot her in an effort to stop Drake from taking over again and going to the gaiphage. Although Jamal shoots her in the head, and it is described in detail, she cannot die. Another girl punches Jamal to keep him from shooting Brittany again. The girl and Drake then battle, with the girl shooting off part of Drake’s face, but he can’t die either. She garrotes his head, but it reattaches to his body.

Sam, Dekka and Jack’s battle with the insects is graphically described. Most disturbing are the instances where the bugs attack and eat children alive. Sanjit recalls being beaten by a pimp who was then going to stab him. Toto tells about a girl who was tased as she used her powers to walk through a wall. It caused her to get stuck and suffocate.

A gang of boys uses crowbars, rifle butts and their hands to beat Albert. One of them eventually shoots him in the head. Edilio shoots two of the gang to stop them from hurting Pete and Astrid. Drake and his insect army have a violent battle with Sam and his friends near the lake. Orc attempts to kill himself by allowing the insects to try and eat him. Drake battles several people, always using his whip hand to cut them or strangle them.

The bugs chase Caine through the town, eating children as they go. He uses heavy objects like cars and washing machines to squish them, the only thing that can kill them. Sam uses his laser light hands to cut Dekka’s torso open, without anesthesia, so he can remove the bugs from her body before they eat their way out.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Sam remembers how much he enjoyed kissing Astrid. He wanted to have sex with her, but she refused him. Another girl tries to seduce him while he is drunk, but when she puts her hands inside his shirt, Sam stops himself from going further because he knows he loves Astrid. Ten-year-old Bug uses his invisibility to spy on Diana while she is in her bra and panties.

Sanjit tells how a pimp wanted to sell him to a man from Germany. A young girl, probably 10 or 11, begged the pimp to stop hurting Sanjit and take her instead. Sanjit and Lana share several kisses. Diana and Caine sleep together several times, but it is not described in detail. She becomes pregnant with Cain’s child. She recalls how, before the FAYZ, her mother’s boyfriends would sneak into the bathroom while she showered.

Dekka is a homosexual and has a crush on a girl named Brianna, although she has never admitted it to her. Her worst fear is that Brianna will reject her friendship if she knows the truth. Drake says he is going to kill Dekka, not because of what she is, but because of her power. Dekka’s parents sent her away to a school for juvenile delinquents because she is a lesbian.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Although alcohol is prohibited in the FAYZ, Orc drinks daily. He tries to kill himself with alcohol. Sam takes one of Orc’s bottles and drinks alone on the beach, trying to forget all his problems. Lana’s room smells of whiskey.

Tobacco: Lana smokes cigarettes.

Drugs: Sam remembers having a puff of a marijuana cigarette and then getting sick afterward.

Stealing: Sanjit admits to stealing while homeless in India.

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Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

14 and up

Author

Michael Grant

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Released

On Video

Year Published

2011

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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