Light  - Michael  Grant image
And so the Gone series has come to an end. I'm obviously not going to post any spoilers for the ending and I see no real point in reviewing just this book because you're probably going to base your decision of whether or not to read [b:Light|8811139|Light (Gone, #6)|Michael Grant||13685373] on your experience with the previous books. So I thought I'd do something of a series review here, for those who haven't picked up this series and are maybe considering it. Or those who haven't heard of the Gone series before and find themselves randomly on this page with clueless curiosity. Welcome. Have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Because I'm going to tell you why you need to step inside a world of teenage mutants, with powers ranging from mind control to fiery laser beams and from super speed to gravity suspension.

I'm not going to lie in the blissful aftermath of the final book and tell you this series is perfect. I've spent plenty of time talking about the problems I have with it and, while I do think many of these problems were resolved towards the end, I still think it's important to point out that in the first few books I felt the female characters were weak compared to the males. I was glad that someone was writing a book that could easily be enjoyed by both male and female teenagers, but I couldn't fathom why the mutations had far more impressive and powerful results in the male characters. Later, Grant gives these female characters greater development and you could argue that their ability to be tough without the strongest powers shows that their strength goes beyond supernatural abilities. And there's Brianna, of course, who kicks ass.

The story is about a town in California where suddenly, in the space of a millisecond, everybody over the age of fourteen disappears. Every single adult is gone. No doctors or police or parents. The remaining children must try to get by the best they can but, in a world without adults, bullies are free to reign. Rules can no longer be enforced. There is no way to call for help and no one to hear you anyway. And in this [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding||2766512]-style scenario comes an even bigger threat - some of the kids find themselves inexplicably developing powers. Mutant powers.

I think this series takes an excellent look at power, the abuse of it and the dark side of human nature. I wish I'd saved the quote from this book so I could share it but it says something about how quick we are to be outraged at the behaviour of others in certain situations when we cannot fully understand what it's like to be in those circumstances. How we are all capable of doing unthinkable things when we reach breaking point but no one wants to admit it. I liked how Grant looks into the background of each character and shows you why he or she could behave in a certain way - it reminded me a little of [b:Battle Royale|57891|Battle Royale|Koushun Takami||2786327] - and how their experience is unique because of who they are. For a series that has such a huge cast of characters, they are incredibly different, well-developed and memorable.

This completely unrealistic situation is given some realism by the variety of characters that Grant brings into the story. This series is one of the most multicultural I've ever read with many different races, personalities and beliefs; rich kids and poor kids and kids dealing with their developing sexuality. Also, I liked the exploration of relationships and the honest depiction of sex. This book is an excellent safe sex campaign even to the point of being over-the-top. The good guys use condoms and all is good, the bad guys don't use condoms and it leads to an evil alien pregnancy. Well, I'm sure there's a good message in there somewhere.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way Grant handled religion. When something crazy like this happens, it is realistic to assume the characters will question their current religious beliefs, or sceptics will turn to religion and the guidance it offers. Certain characters move through cycles of belief, questioning, doubt and disbelief, others discover a new meaning in religion, devout Christians see themselves turning their backs on the belief they'd always put above all else. I liked all of this. I thought Grant told it in a realistic manner and the changes to each character made sense to me. Throughout the series as a whole, Grant gets that perfect balance between religion and scepticism, in my opinion. I read an excellent review of [b:Plague|6686101|Plague (Gone, #4)|Michael Grant||6881431] by Paul over at Cuddlebuggery and he was concerned about the rejection of religion in the fourth book - something which I had noticed too. However, I feel that Grant restores the balance in the final book coming full circle to stand somewhere between religious belief and religious criticism.

While I think the story was fascinating and well-developed, I still think there was some untapped potential. For me, the gaiaphage could have been explored in even more depth - especially because the last book is 437 pages (UK edition) which is the shortest of the series; Fear having 549, Plague - 522 and Hunger a whopping 661. There was certainly plenty of room for more detail. But, despite the large amount of action scenes, I think Grant's series is primarily about the characters: how they cope and learn and survive. I love looking back on a series and realising just how much the characters have grown from the first installment to the last.

The resolution was as satisfying as the end of a six-book journey can be. I can't say I loved everything but I doubt it would have been possible to write a good ending that pleased everyone. One thing I do know is that I will definitely be returning to the series for re-reads in the future to experience this wild journey again and again.