Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kick-'Em-While-They're-Down Fourth Book Ups the Ante In Already Exciting YA Dystopian Series

(Image from Indiebound)

(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for Plague, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier books in the Gone series. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

"Kick 'em while they're down" must be the motto of Michael Grant, author of the YA dystopian Gone series. I mean, I get that you have to have conflict to keep a story gallopping along, but seriously? Haven't the kids of Perdido Beach, California, suffered enough? First, everyone aged 15 and over disappeared in a mysterious poof. Then, the young survivors noticed a strange dome enclosing their town, barricading them off from the rest of the world. As the weeks wore on, with no help in sight, the streets of the sleepy beach town turned into a war zone, with armed children battling it out for food, water, shelter and control of the weird new world they nicknamed the FAYZ (Fall-Out Alley Youth Zone). As if all of that wasn't bad enough, things in the FAYZ - animals, even people - started evolving in terrifying ways. Oh, and then they discovered the Gaiaphage, a being constructed of pure evil, who's hell-bent on destroying the children's every last hope ...

And that's only in the first three books.

Plague, the recently-released fourth installment in the series, introduces a new threat: a violent, mutated flu virus is sweeping through town, leaving a trail of corpses in its wake. Dahra's meager medical knowledge can't explain the disease and Lana, the Healer, can't cure it. Which is bad, but not the worst thing happening in town. The water supply's running out, Drake's trying to break out of prison, Orc's slurping booze like it's lemonade, Sam's off on some half-baked exploration adventure, Little Pete's burning up with fever, and Astrid's contemplating murder. Still - not the worst things going on in the FAYZ. What is the worst thing? Well, that would be the bloodthirsty monster devouring the Hunter from the inside out. And its friends. The most powerful kids in town can't stop the destruction, can't stop the creatures from eating everything - everyone - in their paths. After everything the kids have endured, will this finally be the end of the FAYZ? Or worse, will the nightmares just keep on coming?

Knowing Michael Grant (and the fact that there are two remaining books in the series), you should probably go with the latter.

Four books into a series, I'm usually starting to get bored. Not so in this case. Grant keeps things so lively, I don't dare look away. I'm not saying this is great literature - really, the writing's just so-so - but it's a fun, exciting story that keeps jutting off in surprising new directions. As much as I don't want the books to end, I'm anxious to see how the story plays out. The possibilities truly are endless. And you know how much I love that.

(Readalikes: Similar to the other books in the series - Gone, Hunger, and Lies; also reminds me a little of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner; and a bit of the Chaos Walking series [The Knife of Never Letting Go; The Ask and the Answer; and Monsters of Men] by Patrick Ness)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for violence, mild language, some sexual content, and slurs related to race and homosexuality

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. This series sounds good. I'll have to see if I can find it. I love how you said it was a library fine! That's so true round here!!

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  2. I only read the first book, Gone, and while it was definitely fast paced, it made me sooooo mad! Mad to the point of hating it. I will not be reading the rest of the series. And why did I hate it so bad? For the very reason you titled this post the way you did. I felt that the author is some sadistic SOB who just can't stop torturing kids! But that's just me. ;)

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  3. Kris - I really like it. Like I said, it's not great literature, but good escapist fiction. And, yes, I know a few things about library fines :(

    Jenny - LOL! Ya gotta have conflict to keep the story moving, especially when you're writing for teens, so I get that, but man, those kids just can't catch a break. I really like the series, though. I just can't help myself!

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