I started reading Michael Grant’s Gone series last year when the first two books were out, and even though there are some things about the books I don’t love, just call me hooked, and add him to my list of “authors whose books I preorder.” The fourth book in this series of six, Plague (preceeded by Gone, Hunger, and Lies) came out in April and I just finished reading it. (I had a lot on my plate!) I have to say, this fourth book is my favorite so far.
The series has been described as Stephen King meets Lord of the Flies. Actually, it could just be all Stephen King because he’s written a book called Under the Dome, which, at first glance, reminds me a lot of Grant’s series. One day, all of the adults over 15 just poofed – they were gone. The kids in a ten-mile radius were left to fend for themselves, covered by a dome (and as you find out in this book, it’s not just a dome — it’s something that goes underground, too) that lets no one in and no one out, except when the kids “poof” when they turn 15. Until one of them learns how to defeat the “poof” and stay where they are. As the series has gone on, they have encountered mutant creatures fueled by The Darkness who is controlling them. Not to mention a lot of kids have developed powers and there is tension between the freaks and the normal. Oh, yeah, and one little boy in particular, Petey? He’s an autistic kid who made the FAYZ (what the kids call the bubble they’re trapped in – stands for Fallout Alley Youth Zone).
Plague picks up where Lies left off. The kids are starting to develop a terrible, terrible flu, and some are even dying violent deaths from it. They cough themselves to death. (And honestly, what’s a little creepy is that I read this book while sick with a really nasty cough — makes me shudder thinking about it!) And just when things couldn’t get worse, Drake, enemy to all as he is fueled by The Darkness, is freed from where he’s trapped, and some crazy snakes start spitting venom on people, and that venom allows creepy bugs controlled by The Darkness to use the human’s body as a host.
If that doesn’t make sense, that’s understandable. You really have to have read the first three books in this series for this book to make a lot of sense. Which is fine by me. I hate books in a series that spend pages and pages summarizing what’s already happened in the other books. There’s just enough summary in this book to remind me of what happened in Lies (after all, it’s been a year since that book came out!) but not so much that I feel overwhelmed by stuff I’ve already read.
This book was a lot more violent and a lot more graphic that its predecessors (not that they were violence-free by any means!). More deaths, a little sex, and then some more death. And more creepy mutant bug stuff. Like the bugs that use human bodies as hosts by anesthetizing them, growing inside the human and then literally eating their way out. Oh my gosh. I kept looking at Chloe, my chihuahua, imagining that the bugs that came out of the bodies were about her size (she’s 9 pounds). And the descriptions of the bugs themselves, especially their eyes… Let’s just say a book’s descriptions of eyes hasn’t creeped me out this much since I read Dean Koontz’s book Darkfall many years ago. (I still check my car at night for alien-rat-from-the-pit-of-hell eyes.) I would be wary in recommending in to younger audiences. Honestly, unless your middle-schooler can handle stuff like that, these books, this one in particular, may be a little too much. The story itself was fast-paced and kept my interest the entire time, which I appreciated. I feel like maybe some of the stuff could be taken out, but it’s not too long-winded and helps more the story, as part of the entire series, along nicely. And oh yeah, as is the MO of Grant – we’re left hanging.