Ask Pippa

2008: What's New in Fiction?

Gone by Michael Grant ($19.50, Harper)

What happens if, one day at school, your teacher vanishes into thin air? And then you find out that all the adults, everywhere, have disappeared? Chaos, right?

The adults disappearing is just the start to this weird and exciting story where the world is now full of people aged 14 and under. Chaos ensues, but what do you do? No teachers, no adults to tell you what to do, and nobody around who can tell you what happened. At first, it seems like fun, but then it sinks in -- this is a permanent change. Kids and teens have to take care of the day-to-day stuff -- like getting food, taking care of the little kids,and figuring out if the electricity will stay on. But things get even weirder when it turns out some kids have developed certain types of superhero abilities -- and a nasty gang doesn't want to use it for good. Things get pretty ugly between kids from different parts of town.

Gone is an exciting story that draws on a number of classic science fiction themes (such as what happens if a portion of the population disappears), and adds in a bit of the Lord of the Flies (a novel about kids stranded on an island with no adults where the bullies rule). Of course, there is a mystery too -- why did everything get so weird, and why? Don't expect a lot of answers -- this is the first book in a series. The book is thick at 558 pages, but its easy-to-read formulaic style will pull you through quickly. For readers 12 and up.

The author: Michael Grant is co-creator of Animorphs and the Everworld series. He lives in North Carolina in the US.