Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a FAYZ they're going through

A concept in fiction that seems popular - maybe more so lately - is that of "dystopian" situations. A "utopia" was first envisioned back in the early 1500s as an ideal society where order prevails and there are no conflicts or inequalities, so a dystopia is the anti-utopia - and it seems to work well in literature as a way to point out flaws in ourselves and society. Books like George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World are good examples. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorites, and recently The Hunger Games was a very popular dystopian series.

GoneAnother new dystopian series is the Gone Series by Michael Grant, with similarities to Lord of the Flies. Book 1, titled Gone, starts with Sam Temple sitting in his history class in little Perdido Beach, California, but daydreaming about surfing the waves he can see from the classroom window. One moment his teacher is lecturing about the Civil War, and the next he's gone. Poof! Vanished. Except it's not just his teacher; ALL the adults are gone. All that's left are those under 15, including the little kids and babies. Somebody needs to take charge. Most look to Sam, who once saved a bus full of kids when the driver had a heart attack, but when he's reluctant to step up, the bullies take over. But questions loom: where has everyone gone and what's the strange barrier that surrounds the town. The kids begin calling their new world the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) because the barrier extends in a radius of 10 miles from the local nuclear power plant. Thirteen years earlier a meteorite struck the power plant causing a serious accident, and the mysterious barrier seems to enclose the same area as the fallout zone. Maybe that radiation has something to do with why Sam and some of the kids seem to be developing strange powers.

This is the kind of series that sucks you right in. I found myself reading every available moment, staying up late at night, taking long lunch breaks, and unable to put it down until the end. Right from the beginning the story was tense and gripping with likeable characters you find yourself cheering for. But the FAYZ is a pretty scary place, and in my opinion these books are definitely for the teenagers (and older teenagers like me). In book 2, Hunger, the kids are paying the price for the free-for-all they enjoyed three months earlier. Food is running out and kids are becoming desperate. More kids are starting to develop strange powers - and the animals, too - but there's tension between the "normals" and the "freaks." There’s also the problem of the "Darkness" underground, who wants to be fed, too.

Unfortunately it seems to be about a year between each new book coming out (book 4, Plague, just came out this Spring) which feels like an eternity with an exciting series like this. I just got caught up with Lies and Plague, and I think there will be at least 2 more in the series. It's also a little frustrating as these likeable kids (well, some are likeable - some are downright despicable) seem to continually go from the frying pan into the fire. In book 2 there was some bad language, and in book 4 sexual tensions cause some issues (although that's a realistic issue for teenagers, especially in a situation where the grownups are all gone). But overall, Mr. Grant seems to handle the situations in an appropriate way - all the while keeping the excitement level at a fever pitch. I got book 1 from Amazon Vine, but I've bought all the rest - and I might just wait until the rest of the books are out before I finish the series. It's a little too much fever pitch for me, sometimes.

Plague: A Gone NovelHunger: A Gone NovelLies: A Gone Novel

No comments:

Post a Comment