Ever since I first caught sight of the luminous yellow pages and simple title of Michael Grant’s book GONE, I’ve been hooked on the series. It’s such a simple premise, and the jackets are tantalisingly mysterious and beautiful, almost as if they’re radioactive themselves…
If you’re not familiar with the concept behind these books, let me catch you up as spoiler free as I can. A freak event strikes Perdido Beach, California, causing everyone over the age of fourteen to disappear in an instant, and a strange impenetrable bubble to form around the town and surrounding area. Unable to get out, the kids of Perdido Beach have to band together for survival, as strange mutated animals begin to prey on the weak. However, the animals aren’t the only ones suffering from mutations, and soon some of the kids begin to exhibit superhuman abilities, from the ability to fire burning light from their hands, telekinesis or super-speed. Not everyone is intent on survival though, some are there to conquer, and jealousy of powers soon cause friends to turn on friends, and family against each other. Throughout battles, they soon come to realise a greater enemy, a dark entity that lurks at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, more powerful than anything in their little world, dubbed the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). As they struggle to survive, and understand what and why the FAYZ has come, the kids are forced to grow up fast, and hard.
FEAR opens up a whole new world of questions regarding this series, and Michael Grant has once again not spared the roller-coaster impact of this engaging series. As we delve into the book, we are started to be shown glimpses of the world outside the FAYZ, the parents of character’s we’ve come to know so well, and the shadowy military knowledge of the background of the bubble, and the powers within. Inside the FAYZ, an uneasy peace has settled between the warring factions of kids, and things are starting to progress smoothly. As is to be expected of course, things don’t last for long, and soon, the Darkness starts to send out it’s influence to take back the world. Meanwhile, the FAYZ itself begins to change, for the first time since it began. The barrier is turning black, slowly, but not slow enough. Soon, the survivors will be left in complete darkness, and there will be no more fishing or growing vegetables. No more survival.
As I said before, Michael Grant is a master at action packed storytelling, and few books keep me totally gripped like these ones have. In fact, I literally jumped for joy when they came in to work. Once again, the tension is massive, with each chapter superbly crafted to leave the reader unable to stop until they can read no more. The glimpses of the outside world in this book build the FAYZ’s mythology and universe, leaving it still just cloaked in shadows, almost painfully close to conclusion. The character development is again twisted and dark, examining the real psychologies of teenagers left to endure horrible events and how the power hungry and protectors react to trying situations. The changes in some of the series major characters is refreshing, and Grant again proves himself a ruthless writer when it comes to killing off characters. I polished off the hard back in a 24 hours period, and would be reading on the way to and from work (I walk…), and every spare minute I got. A sterling series which I cannot wait to continue (alas it’ll be NEXT year before I get to… Might have to check out BZRK), FEAR is another brilliant Sci-Fi thriller in a fantastic series. If you’ve enjoyed Hunger Games or Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, then you owe it to yourself to give these books a try.