My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Gone. That’s what happens to everybody over 14 years old. They just blink out and leave the kids of Perdido Beach by themselves.
Heck of a hook. I’ve encountered the ‘absent parent’ trope before (The Time of the Reaper and The Enemy for example) and it’s a ripe vein to explore. What happens in a kids life when the adults – their decision makers and authority givers – are no longer there?
‘Gone’ is a pacy stomach punch of a book. It’s written fast and it’s written swift. There’s an accessibility to the text which is hugely attractive. The language is brief and economical and very reader friendly. The characters are believable with realistic interactions and some nice use of dialogue. I believe these kids (and I love Albert and Edilio). With the large cast, there’s a nice opportunity to latch onto somebody who the reader identifies with. However this does come with a downside. There’s never a moment where something isn’t happening and when coupled with a large cast it’s easily to lose the thread of who’s speaking and what their respective affiliation is.
‘Gone’ is also full of some very harsh imagery and episodes which are genuinely chilling and difficult to read. I’ve written about twenty sentences in this review to try and sum up my feelings regarding this and I’ve deleted them all. I’m struggling to understand and coherently express my reaction. I think the key issue is for me is that there’s a difference between my perception of violence in something like The Hunger Games in comparison. Violence in The Hunger Games is resolutely fantastical and ‘other’. I think the key thing that caught me when reading ‘Gone’ was that this violence was resolutely ‘real’ and also ‘possible’. It made me deeply uncomfortable.
But it didn’t stop me reading and I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing. It’s something I’ll have to ruminate on some more.
‘Gone’ is a discomforting, hard-hitting, book that left me with the weirdest taste in my mouth. I’ll definitely come back for the second one, and I’ll read it, but I don’t know if I’ll enjoy the experience. And not actively enjoying a book is a novel (do excuse the pun) experience.