As a 15 year old reading the opening chapter of Gone, every person aged 15 and over having vanished by page seven gave me a few misgivings about the... well, the relatability of the book. After all, I struggle to find anything in common with the 14 and 13 year olds I see most days, other than how I used to act at that age - which I of course now look back on in embarrassment. Needless to say, I was nicely surprised when I found myself immensely enjoying the book by the time I was halfway through – and what a relief it was to have not wasted my time by continuing with it.
Michael Grant is an American writer, and his characters are typically American high school style: Sam, the protagonist, an attractive mysterious-type surfer who committed a heroic act once but always stayed out of the spotlight; Astrid, the intelligent blonde who always caught Sam's eye despite her disinterest in boys. And of course the antagonist; Caine, the smarmy and ruthless boarding school boy, with cunning plans and a heart of ice. Despite the seeming stereotypes, Grant manages to create powerful characters and give them depth without making it seem unnatural for their age. Character development: spot on.
The plot of Gone is full of mysteries and suspense right from the very first page. Key word I'm repeating: mystery. Grant gives little away, and has you forming plenty of your own theories. Something I find personally likable is that he doesn't finish a book on a cliff hanger, he always wraps each book up nicely, although many of the underlying questions continue through the series (and I being a sucker for a good series am halfway through the third book of six, and it's only getting better). Having continued with the series, I would say that Gone is a vital introduction to the series. You're introduced to the 'FAYZ', the world inside the barrier that totally surrounds the nuclear town of Perdido Beach; a world without adults or an escape. You get a feel for the characters, and in my case a burning desire to find out what is happening and why.
As someone who was recommended this book by an adult, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to both my peer group and older readers. Cast aside your mistrust of American high school student stereotypes! Force back your misgivings about a book entirely populated by children aged 14 and younger! This book is worth the read, and I say that with the utmost confidence. Be warned that this is an addictive series however, I can confirm from experience that if you finish the second book without having the third close at hand, you WILL be kicking yourself.