Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Horror, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 2010
Hardcover: 464 pages
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?
Stand alone or series: Book 3 in the GONE series
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the Publisher
Why did I read this book: I was introduced to Michael Grant’s GONE series last year. I swallowed Gone and Hunger whole, and was left salivating for more – in fact, Hunger made my Top 10 Favorite Books of 2009. So, yeah, you could say I was just a tad bit eager for the release of Lies this year! When I got my ARC, there was some shrieking. I’m not gonna lie.
**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE SERIES. If you have not read the first two books and do not wish to be spoiled, AVERT YOUR VIRGIN EYES!**
Over half a year has passed since the impenetrable dome-like force field has settled over the seaside town of Perdido Beach. Everyone over the age of 15 vanished in an instant – poofed out – while the children were left behind. Times have been hard for the children and teens trapped in the FAYZ (the “Fallout Alley Youth Zone”); the FAYZ not only cut off the trapped children’s contact with the outside world, but it also somehow manifested in strange mutations. Some of the children and teens developed powers – the ability to fire light from hands, to cancel gravity, to move at incredible speeds, to teleport. The animals in the FAYZ began to change too – snakes grow wings, coyotes learn to speak, and worms grow to monstrous size. Under the ruthless leadership of Caine, the rich, troubled kids from the Coates Academy clashed with the Perdido Beach children with their reluctant leader, Sam. An all-out war ensued in Hunger, especially as food dwindled, and the children of the FAYZ began to starve.
And all the while, the ominous Darkness – an evil entity that calls itself “the gaiaphage” – remains fixated on these trapped children, determined to manipulate, to kill, to devour, to break their will, and to take control of this isolated, trapped universe in an impenetrable bubble.
In Lies, things are even more dire for our trapped youth in the FAYZ. The food situation has been kind-of sorted out, though everyone is still constantly hungry. Resentment continues to breed in Perdido Beach, even with the exile of Caine and the Coates kids and the death of the twisted, sadistic Drake. Zil and his thug followers on the “Human Crew” thrive on the lack of stability in town, and propagate their mission to isolate and kill all the “Freaks” (those kids with superpowers). Sam struggles with the ineffectiveness of the newly formed Town Council, while Astrid is livid at his decision to keep secrets from her and her fellow Council members. And Orsay, the girl with the ability to walk in others’ dreams, begins to see the dreams of those outside of the FAYZ. Known as “the Prophetess” and with a growing following hungry for her news of the outside world, Orsay may be the salvation of every trapped child, or their damnation.
Man, I love this series.
If I had to describe this book, and this series overall, in a single word, it would be “relentless.” The action never quits; these poor kids have not a second of solace, as the tension and horrors keep mounting. Driven mad by hunger and malnutrition, pushed to their absolute breaking points, our hero Sam is tested harshly in this third novel. One of my only complaints with the prior books in this series was how the bulk of this multi-cast of characters fell simple along the lines of “good” or “evil” – there are the sadists like Caine, Drake and Diana; sycophants like Computer Jack and Howard; and the troupe of good guys, with Sam, Astrid, Edilio, Dekka, and Breeze. In particular, the ostensible lead characters – Sam and Astrid – came across as almost too good to be true. True, Sam has had his share of reluctance as a leader, and he has made questionable decisions, but Astrid prior to this book has been largely relegated to the supporting, motherly/virginal/good girl role. In Lies, I was delighted to see that this simplicity is gone. Sam loses it (and really, who wouldn’t lose it, considering the circumstances? Seven months of death, destruction, and fear grind down on even the staunchest of heroes). We finally get a look at what makes Astrid tick, and she gains color and depth as a character. For a genius, she makes her own share of mistakes – she’s the perfect example of idealism failing in a situation where realism is needed. Condescending, hypocritical, and haughty, the Astrid of Lies is not the infallible girlfriend of the earlier books. And this, along with her gradual realization of her mistakes and her ability to finally take action, endeared her to me as a character. I loved it.
There’s a LOT going on in terms of plotting for Lies too, and I don’t want to spoil anyone eager to scoop up book three. So, I’ll just drop a few teasers: Lies introduces us to a new group of excellent characters. It also gives readers a glimpse of what is outside the bubble. There are more deaths, more tragedies, and more desperate acts from an increasingly desperate group under Cain’s leadership.
And you didn’t really think the gaiaphage was defeated, did you? You didn’t think you’d seen the last of certain characters, did you? No. I didn’t think so.
While the descriptions and general level of writing is pretty straightforward in this book (as it has been for the prior books), what Mr. Grant lacks in writerly finesse and style, he more than makes up for with his gift for plot and his ability to tell a story. I am constantly amazed at Michael Grant’s ability to balance the supernatural elements of this story, managing to keep things grim, dark, and terrifying when it’s such an easy slide into cheese or comedy. Kids with superpowers, religious zeal, the embodiment of evil…it’s a lot to handle, but the GONE books do it with aplomb.
I devoured Lies in a day, unable to sleep until I knew where the story was going – because I really had no clue how everything would tie together by the end of this installment (and holyfreakingcrap is it GOOD). The GONE books are reminiscent of early Stephen King – there’s a reason why he’s blurbed the series. (On that note, if you read Under the Dome and were left wanting more, look no further. In my opinion, the GONE novels are superior.) Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that Lies and the other books in this series are even darker than anything “adult” fiction I’ve read recently. Lies is chilling stuff, dudes. It’s the good stuff. If you haven’t been to the FAYZ yet, you should. Horror fans, Lord of the Flies fans, apocalyptic/dystopian fans, if you haven’t read this series, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Get GONE. Now.
Notable Quotes/Parts: Courtesy of Harper Teen’s Browse Inside feature, you can read the first 90 pages of Lies online for free. I highly recommend you check it out:
Additional Thoughts: If you’re a fellow fan, make sure to check out the official site for the GONE books – www.theFAYZ.com. Also, a few days ago Michael Grant mentioned something about a “TV thing” for the GONE books on Twitter. I’m intrigued, but also skeptical – especially given how grim this most recent installment was. It’s gonna be tough to get a young cast to do some of the things that happen in these books (and get it to pass for network TV, no less), especially in Lies. But, couch potato that I am, I’m pretty excited, and I have my fingers crossed.
Verdict: Although I think I liked Hunger ever-so-slightly more, Lies is made of AWESOME. I loved it. Easily one of my favorite books published in 2010, thus far.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Feed by Mira Grant