Series: Gone #3
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on 4th May 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Amazon・ Good Books・Book Depository
It's been seven months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.
It happens in one night. A girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach; and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake. But Drake is dead. Sam and Caine defeated him along with the Darkness.
Or so they thought.
As Perdido Beach burns, battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake, who is back from the dead and ready to finish where he and Sam left off. And all the while deadly rumors are raging like the fire itself, spread by the prophetess Orsay and her companion, Nerezza. They say that death is a way to escape the FAYZ. Conditions are worse than ever and kids are desperate to get out. But are they desperate enough to believe that death will set them free?
I approached the third installment in Michael Grant’s series with caution. From the reviews that I’ve glanced at, it seems that, for many fans, Lies is the weakest book in the series thus far. Since I tend to agree with the majority opinion when it concerns YA fiction, I was fully prepared to enjoy Lies, but perhaps not to the extent that I did Gone and Hunger.
And, as it was to be expected, I had several issues with this installment. Certain things that frustrated and annoyed me a great deal. While I’ve loved this series from the beginning, I’ve had to wrestle with varying degrees of disappointment since my rereading of Gone and beyond. To put it bluntly, I’ve had to get over the fact that these books aren’t perfect. They’re flawed in many ways, and after being so eager to read them for so long, this fact came as a fairly significant letdown. I realize that the blame for this reaction rests entirely on me and my impossibly, unfairly high expectations, but what can you do? There are simply times when your emotions get the best of you. An especially important factor here is the fact that the biggest problem to be found in Grant’s writing, for me at the very least, is his tendency to be inconsistent, and discontinuity is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to any form of storytelling.
The trade-off here is the fact that the few wrongs that the series consistently suffers from are greatly outweighed by what Grant does right. Because he does many, many things right. The things that aren’t problematic aren’t simply good. They’re great. It was a bit of a chore, getting over my perfectionist tendencies and accepting the series for what it is, but I’m pleased that I’ve been able to. I would be missing out on an incredible story if I hadn’t.
I bring this up because, from the very beginning, I’ve desperately wanted to give this series a perfect rating. Not being able to do so for the first two installments was disheartening, but I had hoped that I would get the chance with the latter books. I wasn’t expecting that chance to come around until either Plague or Fear, as the word on Goodreads and beyond generally appears to be that these two are the best in the series. I opened Lies telling myself that, even if I was disappointed with this particular installment, I could take reassurance in the fact that the sequel(s) were likely to be much better. So, yes, I was completely expecting this book to be a bit of a step down from its predecessors before I even read its opening chapter. A rather stupid thing for me to do, I’ll admit, and for one very good reason:
Gone is fantastic, if imperfect. Hunger is even better, though still faulty. Lies is still problematic, and has me wondering if the series’ biggest flaws will ever be fully done away with.
At this point, however, I really don’t care.
Because Lies is amazing.
A much thinner read than its predecessors, Grant’s third offering packs so much excellence into every page that any possibility of the shorter length being a hindrance to the storytelling is crushed within the first few chapters. It may not be long, but it’s a damn good story.
1. If there’s one thing that Grant knows how to do exceedingly well, it’s weaving an interesting and thought-provoking tale. With Lies, the story is much darker than previous installments – something that I didn’t quite think possible after Hunger‘s incredibly grim tone. Some of the developments here are awful. Disturbing. Horrifying. Sickening. Some unthinkable lines are crossed. Some characters and scenes infuriated and appalled me to no end. Yet not once does it ever feel gratuitous or unnecessary. It simply works, and it does so brilliantly.
Grant also continues his trend of pulling out twists so quickly that the reader has no time whatsoever to recover from one before the next comes around and slaps you silly. Most are completely unexpected and add fascinating new layers to the already complex worldbuilding. Now, one major development, revealed near the end, I found rather predictable. I was able to figure it out very early on in the story, but my foreknowledge did not spoil the big unveiling in the least. It still managed to chill me, and the fact that the author was able to wring a reaction from me despite this lack of surprise stands as a testament to his merits as a writer.
2. Once again, the writing has improved drastically. Sure, the story has several moments in which it could be tighter, but doesn’t every book? There are several truly beautiful passages present throughout, and Grant’s style as a whole is well-done and powerful. The irksome grammatical issues from Hunger are also, thankfully, absent this time around.
3. One of the very best aspects of this book is the character development, which is provided in spades. At this point in the narrative, several of the characters reach their breaking point, and this predictably leads to all manner of issues, both personal and relationship-wise. This, in turn, brings about some absolutely fantastic changes in multiple mindsets and personalities. Are you taking note of this, YA authors? This is how you create effective fictional characters. Fully-realized characters change. They learn from their mistakes. They grow. The kids that populate Grant’s world do just that, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. I absolutely adored Astrid and Diana’s evolutions in particular.
4. In what stands as a first for me in this series, the pacing in this installment is truly spectacular, with not a dull moment to be had. These books are always relatively fast-paced and action-packed, of course, but Lies simply never lets up with its breathtaking, nonstop parade of twists, cliffhangers and conflicts. It took me quite some time to finish the previous installments, and while this was partially due to their length, I think that the primary cause was that, while excellent, their stories had their slower moments. Don’t misunderstand me – “slower” does not mean “dull” or “sluggish” in this particular case. I’m simply referring to the fact that the first two books contained a relatively even mix of action and calm, of fast-paced excitement and quiet moments of exposition. Both are scenarios that Grant does well, and simply assured that it was rather easy to put the book down and take a break. Lies, however, switches to high gear almost immediately, and stays there. What’s impressive is that, despite this, Grant never sacrifices depth or emotion for the sake of an explosive, high-intensity scene, and instead manages to provide a great deal of both simultaneously.
1. This is going to be a constant for my reviews of this series, I’m afraid. Once again, inconsistency is the biggest flaw. While it isn’t nearly as prevalent here as it is in previous installments, the few instances of discontinuity that do make an appearance are significant in that these mistakes deal with relatively important pieces of exposition. The worst offender is the altering of a secondary character’s backstory in regards to the origin of her romantic feelings for a friend. While these errors are ultimately unimportant to the story as a whole, their existence does have the unfortunate effect of pulling you out of the narrative. It also lessens the presence and realism of the characters, which, in a lengthy series such as this one, can prove a major blow to the reader when he or she is just beginning to grow emotionally attached to these kids and their struggles. In such a situation, every small bit of detail counts, and mixing these tidbits up can cause a great deal more trouble than you might first suspect.
Honestly, though, the fact that this is the only real issue that I have with this book is incredible. We’ve certainly come a long way since Gone.
I’m amazed that this book is the recipient of my first perfect score for the series, but I couldn’t be happier. Have you read the first two installments? Still unsure about continuing? Read Lies. It’s incredible, and I guarantee that you will be entirely invested in the story by the time you turn the final page. I sincerely hope that the next two books manage to reach the level of greatness that this one manages to. Bravo, Grant. Bravo.
The Score So Far
1. Lies (5 stars)
2. Hunger (4 stars)
3. Gone (3 1/2 stars)