The fourth book in Michael Grant's Gone series, Plague, was released a few weeks ago in the UK, with its lovely black and red cover. I much prefer the UK covers to the US ones, but the book is essentially the same (i.e. brilliant.) We're met with a new problem in good ol' Perdido Beach: a plague. And not just any old plague... this one is basically a flu, but Super. You know how people cough so hard it sounds like they're about to cough up a lung? Well, in Perdido Beach, that's not just an expression.
To make matters worse, flesh eating parasites are forming inside people, eating their way out after making their victims numb to the sensation. The bugs eventually get out and move on to find a new delicious victim. Meat is murder, ladies and gentlemen. Juicy, delicious murder. And a town full of kids is a main course for an army of bugs.
And of course, Grant throws more problems into the mix - a character from Lies becomes more of a problem, as you would expect; the water problem in Perdido Beach gets worse; and naturally people begin to get more and more suspicious of some of the strange things that happen in the town. I'll say no more. It's natural psychology to become suspicious of the people you're trapped with.
How did the book compare to the others?
I didn't think it was possible, but it's possibly the best. Less psychologically engaging than Lies, but more interesting, I think. With the plague and the bugs spreading, it was becoming more and more difficult to tell who would live and who would die, and it forces readers to align themselves with some people of Perdido Beach and not others (like, who wants the bad guy to live if it means the good guy has to die?) This emotional shift and the continued degradation of the minds of the kids of the FAYZ really helped this book along the way. The sense of adventure following some people, the madness of others and the nasty little plague spreading like a... well, a plague, just sent this thing miles ahead of the other books in terms of making a good story.
Death by bugs or death by plague?
Death by bugs, definitely. While it has the disadvantage that they might make me a host to some of their own kind, thus putting others in danger, they also make it so that you don't feel anything. As opposed to the Super flu, which gives kids high temperatures, fevers and increasingly violent coughs that eventually kill you. And I'm fairly sure coughing up a lung or coughing so hard you break your neck is not a fun and painless way to die.
What do you expect from book five?
Ah Fear... obviously, I expect fear. Something has to happen early on that gets kids freaked out and screaming. While there are some pretty scary characters in this book, I don't think one of the existing ones will be the source of all this trouble. After all, there's so much more Grant can still throw at the characters. Like, the fact that they're still trapped in a bubble. Or the fact that the wildlife is becoming increasingly more dangerous to them. Or the fact that more kids are developing superpowers and attitude problems, almost at the same rate. And lets not forget the Darkness, which is bound to become bored and attack. Unlike Voldemort, though, it doesn't wait until the end of the book to do so. It tends to launch its attacks in new and interesting ways before the first quarter of the book has passed, and that attack continues on the sly for quite some time until there's a Eureka moment and they have to try stop whatever sort of Super Evil it throws at the kids of the FAYZ. And I imagine it will gets a whole lot worse for everyone. Based on the original title of the book, Darkness, I have my suspicions that the FAYZ wall will become less than just an illusionary projection of the outside world minus any potential activity on the other side of it, and more a constant starless night. And you know why people are afraid of the dark, right? They think there's something lurking in it. Which, in this case, will probably be true! (Wow, I hope I didn't just spoil the book on myself before it's even been released!)
What do you think of the twists?
Every book has twists. They're essential to keep the reader interested. In series books, there needs to be a twist near the end that makes the reader want to keep on going with the books but that isn't so extreme is puts them off. Michael Grant has just the twist for readers in Plague. It's not just made me more interested in Fear, but also in the series finale, Light. Unfortunately, that probably won't be released until 2013, when I'll have the fun of fourth year in college to face. Even still, I want to know how all of this is going to end. So many questions have been raised by the events in Plague that any who loses interest in the series must be mad! Time and time again Grant has given readers something new and wonderful to look forward to. These books are never a let-down, and it's likely due to the twists that Grant throws in that so many people love them.
Housekeeping note: No review next week. If I have the time and inclination, I will be writing a series of blog posts to replace the review during May. These may or may not come into fruition. For personal reasons, I will not be tending to the blog for some time. I may be back sooner rather than later, but not until I have resolved a number of issues, not least of all being that I need to study for exams. If I find I have something to say, I will be here. Until such time that I am back, I bid you adieu. Happy reading!
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