Review: Fear by Michael Grant

11 April, 2013 Reviews 2 comments

Review: Fear by Michael GrantFear by Michael Grant
Series: Gone #5
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on 1st March 2012
Pages: 509
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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five-stars

It’s been one year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

Despite the hunger and the lies, despite even the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new world they’ve build, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.

Within the FAYZ, life breaks down while the Darkness takes over, literally – turning the dome-world of the FAYZ entirely black. In the black, the worst fears of all emerge, and the cruelest of intentions are carried out. But even in their darkest moments, the inhabitants of Perdido Beach maintain a will to survive and a desire to take care of the others in their ravaged band that endures, no matter what the cost.

I was very, very excited when I started Fear.

I know that, for many (if not most) fans, this installment is their favorite.  I’ve known this since the very beginning, before I even started my series marathon with a rereading of Gone.  For the last four books, this little fact has been sitting in the back of my mind, leading me to believe wholeheartedly that I was going to absolutely love this installment.  When I read Lies, the weakest book for many fans, and was blown away by it, my expectations for the fourth and fifth novels skyrocketed.  I was certain that the next two were going to, somehow, be even better, as that’s what most reviews seemed to point towards.  I mean, sure, my opinion of Lies was a bit off from the general consensus, but that was probably a one-time thing, right?

Unfortunately, no.  My expectations for Plague were so high that the end result managed to be a bit of a disappointment.  And because of this, I was sure that Fear was going to end up the same way.  That it was going to be good, but a bit of a letdown all the same.

And, initially, it was.  Several issues became apparent very quickly, and, while I was enjoying the story as a whole, it really wasn’t wow-ing me like I had hoped.  I reached a point where I was ready to accept the fact that Grant’s fifth installment was not going to live up to my (absurdly) high expectations.

And then…something changed.

At around the halfway mark, Grant hits his stride.  And when he does, he manages to deliver a story that isn’t good.

He manages to deliver a story that is phenomenal.

The latter portion of Fear is so well-done that I completely forgive Grant for the rather mediocre start.  This book is flawed, frustrating and annoying.  It’s also disturbing, brilliant, jaw-dropping, horrifying and absolutely incredible.

 

Improvements

1. This one is a given.  Naturally, the story is, once again, fantastic.  Shocking twists, interesting revelations, and an extremely grim tone.  This installment is, irrefutably, the darkest and most disturbing of the series so far, and contains some truly horrific moments.  The mature nature of this book is so potent that you could easily classify it as an adult piece of literature.  It’s unforgiving, uncompromising, and bleak.  And it works.  You don’t realize just how fondly you’ve grown of these characters until you’ve been forced to witness the cruelty and terror that they’re subjected to here.

And that ending.  Oh, wow.  That ending.  While it isn’t much of a cliffhanger, it leaves the story with an interesting, and poignant, development that leaves you breathless.

2. As an added plus, the character development is beautifully done, and surprisingly emotional.  One of the best aspects of Lies, it’s disappointingly lacking in Plague, but back in full force here.  Most of the central characters change in some significant way in this installment, and it’s wonderfully rewarding to witness.  These kids are relatable.  Their victories are yours.  Their struggles are yours.  Grant manages to put so much life and realism into his creations that you can’t help but care deeply about their journey.

 

Problems

1. It’s truly disappointing that Grant’s tendency for inconsistency is back.  After Plague, which avoids the issue entirely, I was hoping that the rest of the series would do so as well.  That is, unfortunately, not the case, and I’m disheartened that it’s rather prevalent throughout the first half of the novel.  Less of an issue later on, but a present one nonetheless.  Ah, well.

2. While the latter half of the story is incredible, it initially suffers from a slow beginning that takes a bit of effort to get through.  Though it contains some intense and interesting moments, the overall pacing of the narrative’s start drags a bit, and several plotlines ultimately go nowhere.

3. While I understand why Grant includes them, the “Outside” chapters are not particularly enjoyable.  Here’s why:

-They slow the story down at inconvenient moments, often bringing the fast pace of the central storyline to a grinding halt.

-They ruin the sense of mystery and ominousness that previously accompanied the lack of contact with the outside world.

-They’re oftentimes rather dull.  It’s uninteresting to focus on characters that have had almost no relevance to the series until this point.  I don’t care about the adults outside.  I care about the children inside.  They’re the ones that I’ve grown to care for.

Again: I completely understand why Grant has these breaks.  They do, in the end, serve a relatively important purpose.  I just didn’t enjoy them.

 

So…

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m likely going to be an emotional wreck while reading Light.  The ending of this installment, despite its relatively optimistic quality, left me teary-eyed.  And that’s without anything actually being resolved or anything particularly sad happening.  Fear, while not perfect, is a powerful and altogether brilliant sequel that promises an incredible end to an incredible series.

 

The Score So Far

1. Fear (5 stars)

2. Lies (5 stars)

3. Plague (4 1/2 stars)

4. Hunger (4 stars)

5. Gone (3 1/2 stars)

6. ?

Paul Beimers

Paul Beimers

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
A reviewer, blogger and trope enthusiast who isn't nearly as consistent with his reading as he should be.

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