Friday Book Review

Last summer, I (erica) discovered the Gone series by Michael Grant. It was a stretch for me, since it's a really long book, and all the characters are under 15, and some really scary stuff happens, and the kids get superpowers. Usually not my thing. But I stood in Borders (yes, stood - I was in a hurry and couldn't just sit in a chair and read for free this time!), skimmed the first few pages, and they were pretty awesome. I've read the first two in the series and I recommend them, although they aren't for the faint of heart. Teenagers are mean when left alone.

I'm separating this book review into two parts.

First, the books. Gone starts dim (everyone 15 and older suddenly disappears) and goes very, very dark (dead babies, beatings, murder, gangs, anorexia in the midst of possible starvation, kids encased in cement, and many, many other examples). Book Two, Hunger, starts right in with a dead kid and doesn't stop until many, many more have gone to, hopefully, a better place.

Charming, right?

Hang in there, there are some blinking fireflies bringing light to this world. And they made me keep reading. Sam and Astrid's sweet-as-punch budding first-romance. People who discover what it means to be a true friend. Kids who've barely reached double-digits who are able to find the strength to feed, clothe, heal, and love each other in a time of need. For every kid who raided a house and left meat out to rot is a kid who hid canned foods knowing they'd need it eventually. (okay, they don't think of themselves as kids in the book. that's my own word here.)

I don't know if I would've read this as a (actual, real) teenager. I wasn't into the supernatural and this series does have a significant plot line surrounding those with powers vs. those without. In fact, it's probably the biggest plotline, but since I've only read the first two, of course, I don't know exactly why everyone over 14 disappeared. Or why there's a big bubble over the town. Or why kids can make light or be built of rocks or have octopus arms. But I'm reading them now. All because of something that brings me to my second part of this review.

First pages really are important. If I was standing in Borders, looking at a wall of 1,000+ books, and needing to be somewhere in less than 20 minutes, and opened a book who's first page sucked - nope, moving on. We've all heard this as writers. We've (okay, I've) thought - how shallow, you can't judge a book by it's first page any more than you can judge it by its cover. There's so much more. Plot, subplot, climax, resolution. . .

Sorry, folks. You can judge a book by it's first page. I still don't judge them by their first line, but I doubt I would have picked up Gone if it simply said: "I noticed all the parents, teachers, and cops were gone and that made me a little excited and a little sad but mostly I was just hungry."

But Michael Grant is a great writer and I'm sure I'll be picking up the other two of the series (so far), and grabbing a box of kleenix, a glass of wine, and some alone time to try to finish them. Because this series isn't for the weak. So I'm gonna' have to fake it.

(note to self - never again write a paragraph with 3 sentences starting with but, because, and so. That's just bad writing. But fun. And informative. oops, there's another no-no)


  1. Okay, the first time I read your review I thought I was maybe too whimpy to read the series. But,(hehe)you've sold me. I think we'll make a book store run today. (So,that means fewer words to be written, of course. But, it's for "research", right? First page writing research. Yeah.)Thanks, erica. For the book review AND writing advice. christy

  2. Oh I'm always going into bookstores and just read the first pages. Just to get an idea of what grabs readers. Good luck with your WIPs!! And thanks for the follow. ;)

  3. Totally not related to the book, but I just dropped by to congratulate you Christy for making it to over 7400 words ... Yay!
    Erica, to over 4400 ... Yay! Yay!
    I already congratulated Jamie on his site.

    Keep up the good work. I want to see at least another 2000 words by the end of the weekend.
    GO! GO! GO! GO! GO! Get to that finish line!

  4. I haven't updated christy on my status yet. But I plan on overtaking the lead in "fasionably late" style. Okay, probably not, but I have made a dent in the gap. Thanks, Michael!!!

    Talei - me too! But if I bought every one I found intriguing, I'd have to live in a cardboard box. :(

  5. Great book review, might even have a read - there's a few similarities with my WIP at the moment :)

    You're so right, the first page is HUGELY important. I've just rewritten mine, trying to get more of my MC's character into it rather than just jumping straight into the action...


  6. SEE! THAT'S what i'm talkin' about michael! oh, and i'm off to write right now. cuz we're NOT blogging today. not home. writing. THOUSANDS OF WORDS, DO YOU HEAR ME ERICA? (you should, i'm shouting!)

    Um, Rach? the whole first page thing is a nightmare for me...aren't i supposed to jump into the action?


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