Review: Gone

Gone (Gone Series #1)Gone
by Michael Grant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gone / 9780061909641

Where do I start with this review? I wanted so badly to love this book, but halfway through I told my husband, "I love the plot, but I can't stand the characters." Still, I was perfectly prepared to give this book a give 4- or 5-star recommendation... until the last 20 pages. Light spoilers ahead.

The plot is everything you could want from a dystopian sci-fi YA novel. On the first page, everyone in town over the age of 14 disappears completely, and it's immediately up to the remaining kids to figure out how to survive in a world that becomes increasingly creepy. The children are obviously ill-prepared to take care of, say, all the abandoned babies in town, and the result is dark, gritty, and satisfyingly creepy. In addition to all this, the town is also enclosed in a mystical soap bubble, and the town threatens to be overrun by talking coyotes and flying rattlesnakes. Seriously, this is an awesome plot.

But the characters...! This book feels like it was written by taking a bunch of recent popular YA books and trying to Frankenstein the characters together out of various YA tropes. There's Sam "Harry Potter" Everyman, a nice, strong, solid, dependable, totally average guy with a propensity towards heroics and to whom everyone instinctively looks up. There's Astrid "Percy Jackson" Sexy-Smart, whose job is to provide exposition and romantic angst and who is literally referred to in-text as both a "Genius" and a "Barbie" doll. (Astrid, being female, will not be allowed to do anything useful in the novel that doesn't entail snogging the protagonist or looking after small children.) And, of course, there's the ineffectual Sidekick Guy who spends the whole novel sulking because he's not as cool as his protagonist buddy. (Why do authors keep Sidekick Guy active as a trope? I truly cannot remember the last time I read a YA novel and thought, "That was good, but it needed more sulking.") And, of course, mid-way through the novel, the Bad Guy shows up and takes over the town through virtue of his Nicolae Carpathian powers of persuasion, a la that preppy kid in "The Enemy". Maybe I've just been reading too much YA lately.

It's not that I can't handle stock characters, but I'm just not sure that I like the way the author writes his characters. For instance, he seems to be aware of the fact that YA as a genre is in dire need of more women and minorities, and I really want to give him credit for trying to fix that. There seem to be as many named female characters here as there are male ones -- a major feat in YA novels -- and there's also an autistic character and a minority character from Honduras. On the other hand, I'm not sure that "realistically depicting prejudice" in a novel should translate to throwing around racist and ablist slurs every few pages, and I'm additionally fairly certain that a good depiction of minorities doesn't start-and-stop at making the autistic character a glorified MacGuffin and the Honduras character someone who can fix and do just about everything, but always does so at the protagonist's beck-and-call.

The female characters suffer this problem as well: despite having incredibly useful powers like genius intelligence, anti-gravity powers, and super-speed, they never really grow beyond support roles in the text. Which is odd, because you'd think that a Genius would be better used for strategy than being a nanny, and you'd think a Speedster that runs faster than the human eye can track would be able to shiv a few key characters. And some kind of award needs to go to Diana, for being the worst-written female character I've read this year: an intelligent young woman who knows full well that the villain is going to humiliate, hurt, abuse, and kill her, but sticks with him over the good guys not because she loves him, but because "The bad girl ends up with the bad boy." No, really, that's her reason. It's like an author's note in-text got incorporated into the dialogue by accident.

Then there's the ending. I realize going in that this is a series and that means cliff-hangers, but this book is a particularly egregious example. The bad guys roll up into town with a literal army, try to murder a preschool full of infants and toddlers, get fought to a position of weakness by the good guys, and then are allowed to limp off into the sunset because it's apparently the right thing to do. The villains are in perfect position to relaunch a counter-strike the next day if they so choose, and in the meantime none of the main questions surrounding the plot and its mysteries are answered or resolved in any meaningful way. Really, ninety percent of the novel could have been spent with everyone sitting on their hands for all the impact it has on the ending, and that's not fair to a reader, in my opinion. I expect something more climactic at the end than just Status Quo Resumes, Please Buy More Books.

And, you know, I liked the plot so much that I might be tempted to buy the next book, but considering the complete dodge on this ending (and considering I've been here before with "The Maze Runner"), I rather cynically believe Book 2 will do nothing more than maintain a holding pattern. There's got to be a better way to do a series than to just have the first twenty pages in Book 1 count and everything between page 21 and the final book is just killing time.

To attempt to sum up: I liked the plot idea, but hated that nothing ever seemed to be done with it. New supernatural elements were piled on every ten pages or so (mutating animals! x-men superpowers! multi-universe soap bubbles!) but none of them were resolved, explained, or brought to completion. I wanted to like the minority characters, but I disliked the fact that they all seemed flat, stale, and underutilized in favor of Protagonist McEveryman and Whiny Sulksman. I was looking forward to the ending, but was thoroughly annoyed to find no resolution whatsoever and a blatant attempt to restore status quo despite all the protagonists knowing full well that isn't going to work out. I'm very disappointed in this novel.

~ Ana Mardoll

View all my reviews


Mime_Paradox said...

I am so stealing the Sexy-Smart name for one of my stories. Julius Sexy-Smart of the Shopshire Sexy-Smarts has a ring to it, no?

Not having read non-Harry Potter non-Narnia YA Lit in a while, I wonder: is there any series that managed to pick up where Animorphs left off? I mean, looking at the old book, and a lot of the stuff seems downright subversive, now. If you've read the series, Ana (or anyone else) is there any YA character who you would consider comparable to, say, Rachel from that series?

Pthalo said...

Hmm, haven't read it, but the plot does sound interesting. Is the bad guy under 14 as well? Is this like --- reverse left behind? (or maybe it's left behind, and it's set in the world that all the kids are taken to, which is a parallel universe that looks exactly like ours, so they think they haven't gone anywhere, and in another world the grown ups are all wondering where the kids went.

though we'd still have to figure out why the RTC adults aren't here. I know, they got lost along the way, and they're in a third parallel universe.)

Ana Mardoll said...

It's not the opposite of Left Behind, though I really wanted it to be. :(

If you really want to know, here are spoilers (and a trigger warning for rape):

Dhvgr n srj bs gur xvqf va gbja rvgure unir zntvp cbjref be ner "punaaryvat" zntvp cbjref sebz ryfrjurer. Na nhgvfgvp 4-lrne-byq jvgu ZNFFVIR zntvp cbjref jnf cerfrag jvgu uvf sngure ng gur ybpny ahpyrne cynag jura n zrygqbja bppheerq. Gur puvyq jnf fb qvfgerffrq ol gur abvfr bs gur zrygqbja jneavatf gung ur: (n) fgbccrq gur zrygqbja, ohg (o) va gur cebprff rapnfrq gur ragver gbja va n ohooyr havirefr. Ng gur fnzr gvzr, rirelbar bire 14 lrnef naq 364.9 qnlf byq qvfnccrnerq.

Gurer vf n fgenatr raretl zbafgre va gur jvyqrearff pnyyrq "Gur Qnexarff" gung jbhyq nccrne gb or onfvpnyyl n terra zbhgu jvgu grrgu. Gur Qnexarff nccrnef gb gur puvyqera ba gurve 15gu oveguqnlf va qvfthvfr naq orpxbaf gurz gb "gur bgure fvqr". Ab bar xabjf vs gur puvyqera gung tb ner rngra be jung... abe qbrf nalbar xabj vs gung'f jung unccrarq gb gur cneragf. Gur Qnexarff pna nyfb nccneragyl cbffrff navznyf naq tvir jrveq yvzof gb uhznaf, n yn lbhe snibevgr Erfvqrag Rivy ubeebe zbivr.

Va bgure arjf, nyy gur ybpny pblbgrf unir zhgngrq vagb rivy, gnyxvat perngherf gung freir Gur Qnexarff. Gurer ner nyfb zhgngrq enggyrfanxrf jvgu jvatf jub nggnpx gur pblbgrf ba fvtug sbe ernfbaf gung ner abg rkcynvarq. Ernyyl, irel yvggyr bs nal bs guvf jvyy or rkcynvarq.

Gur Ovt Onq unf punevfzn orpnhfr gur cybg fnlf fb; uvf fhcre cbjre vf... hapyrne. Ur pna Sbepr Chfu naq nccneragyl perngr Sbeprsvryqf, fb cbffvoyl ur'f Fhr Fgbez. Uvf TS vf na vaperqvoyl vagryyvtrag, traer-fniil tvey jub unf gur cbjre bs frafvat vs fbzrbar unf zntvp cbjref whfg ol gbhpuvat gurz; ur hfrf ure gb syhfu bhg bgure zntvp hfref fb ur pna sbepr gurz gb wbva uvf fvqr.

V jnf ernql gb guebj gur obbx ng gur jnyy va gur ynfg 20 cntrf jura gur Ovt Onq encrf uvf TS (orpnhfr ur'f nobhg gb ghea 15, naq qbrfa'g jnag gb qvr jvgubhg encvat ure ng yrnfg bapr), naq gura fur fgvyy tbrf jvgu uvz qrfcvgr (n) gur Tbbq Thlf fnlvat "fur'f pbby, fur pna fgnl", (o) gur Ovt Onq znxvat vg pyrne gung gur encrf ner tbvat gb pbagvahr va gur shgher, naq (p) gur Ovt Onq'f Qentbaf znxvat vg pyrne gung gurl'er tbvat gb xvyy ure ng gur svefg bccbeghavgl sbe crefbany ernfbaf. SNVY.

Apparently there are at least 4 books in the series. If I had any hope of the plot being explained or the characters being salvaged, I'd continue, but as it is I'm pretty frustrated. It's getting rave reviews elsewhere, and I kind of liked it up until the GIRLFRIEND FAIL, so the 3-stars was an attempt to try to marry a 5-star concept, 3-star characters, and 1-star last 20 pages. :/

Pthalo said...

Hmm, yeah. I like my left behind spoof better. :)

depizan said...

WTF? There's a whole lot of that that is unnecessary, fail, and/or badly in need of some explanation. It almost sounds as though the author had several ideas and instead of writing them as separate stories, threw them all into one. And then tacked on some needless rape and extra fail.

From what's been ROT13ed, the villain kid and his group are completely unnecessary. The story should be about dealing with the new world and the weirdness. Also, you'd think if people had super powers, they'd risk venturing beyond the soap bubble to investigate. And if they can't, how'd the villain get in.

Too bad, the plot minus the unnecessary villain sounds interesting, if not really my thing.

Rikalous said...

It's funny you should mention Animorphs, since apparently the author of these books was K. A. Applegate's cowriter. They've been on my long list of "books I should check out sometime" for a while for that very reason. Remnants, another one of Applegate's series, has a character named 2Face (she's got serious facial burns) who's supposed to be similar to Rachel.

Apparently disqus really likes your comment, as it's the only one I'm allowed to see. Congratulations!

Cupcakedoll said...

I read the third book and no, nothing has been resolved or answered by the end. The cast has rotated slightly but they're basically still pluggin' away. I pretty much gave up on the series then, the dystopia is good, but not good enough for me to wade through who knows how many more books waiting for answers that may never come. Maze Runner had similar problems but I like its characters better and have hope for a cool resolution in the third book.

(skipped the second book because that's the one in which they run out of food and eat their pets, and pet-cruelty gets to me way more than anything that isn't human-cruelty should.)

Dezipan: the human villain is a kid, and the Shadowy Force of Evil just sort of appeared. They can't explore beyond the bubble because sadly the bubble is impenetrable. Nobody knows what's happening outside it, neither characters nor readers. If the readers knew, say, that the bubble existed in the real world and all their parents were outside holding vigils after failing to battering-ram their way in, or that the bubble was in a dimensional rift with NOTHING outside and in the real world it seemed like a Left Behind had taken the kids, either one might have made the story more compelling. But no. The complete lack of info to build your guesses on is a big reason these books didn't do it for me.

Speaking of Animorphs, I could swear the author of Gone is K A Applegate's husband, but I forget where I read that so I might be wrong.

Ana Mardoll said...

I read the third book and no, nothing has been resolved or answered by the end.

I'm glad to hear this, and not just because it indicates that I might be becoming psychic. I really didn't want to waste further time, but I was curious.

(Also: eating pets? *facepalm* They're like, 50 kids -- tops -- in a town with perfectly functioning electricity for no reason. Pretty sure the eighteen Walmarts that must have existed in their town will have enough ramen noodles to keep them going for awhile longer. And there's like 1 dog a a couple of cats? That's not going to go far. Glad to see that we're sticking with brutality for the sake of being edgy.)

To clarify on the Big Bad rolling up into town: he's from the local "private school" where troublemakers were sent. Oddly enough. And he's the Protagonist's twin brother for NO DANG REASON.

Maze Runner... gah. I didn't much enjoy that one, largely because of the zero-resolution ending. Scorch Trials made me see red -- talk about a literary holding pattern. Teresa annoys me and the girl added to Book 2 for the OBLIGATORY LOVE TRIANGLE didn't even interest me enough to learn her name. I actually think Thomas has more chemistry with Newt than with either of the two girls.

depizan said...

Then where'd the bad guy get his army from? Bzuh? Does this book make sense at all? I know from other threads that the problem isn't you and Ana's description ability, so I'm going with no, no it doesn't.

Ana Mardoll said...

The Big Bad's army consists of Private School Students and... talking coyotes provided courtesy of The Darkness. (Not Mike Patton. *rimshot*)

chris the cynic said...

Some possibilities:

1 They inherited the earth. Non-RTCs above certain age (the people in Left Behind) were shoved leftward into a parallel world. Non-RTCs below the age were shoved rightward into a parallel world.

2 Pretty much the same as the above but all pulling was in the same direction and they were pushed into a parallel dimension while the Left Behind people really are on the real earth.

3 The got caught in the space between dimensions. The Doctor calls it the void, whoever called it Hell, but they call it Heaven. Not sure what they did with the Daleks and Cybermen who are in there.

4 There was an error and they were mistakenly forwarded to Mars. These things happen.

chris the cynic said...

To clarify on the Big Bad rolling up into town: he's from the local "private school" where troublemakers were sent. Oddly enough. And he's the Protagonist's secret twin brother for NO DANG REASON.

How is it possible that this story wasn't a lighthearted comedy where self aware characters snarked about the absurdity of their circumstances and during cease fires the good children would have tea with Coyotes and remark, "So, winged snakes... did not see that coming." / "Neither did I and I'm a talking canid"?

I mean seriously, who thinks, "I'm going to make the most absurd story imaginable," and then decides that what it really needs is rape and animal cruelty? Ok, I know who. But why?

Ana Mardoll said...

And now you see why my NaNo novel this year is going to be "a typical YA novel" with all the characters genre-savvy. I plan to kill the protagonist in the first chapter, to be followed with a chapter having the kids argue that the protagonist can't be dead because he was THE PROTAGONIST and who is going to be the protagonist NOW?

depizan said...

I'm with Chris. Absurd grim darkness, sounds like a great idea!*

*Okay, this works for some Warhammer 40K novels, like the Ciaphas Cain books, but I don't remember the author throwing in rape and animal cruelty for the heck of it. Also, this author does not seem to have noticed the absurdity. Which should be impossible, and yet...

chris the cynic said...

The post I want to respond to has disappeared because disqus is being itself. This is in the general direction of Ana.

I once thought of having a story centered around a sidekick who is convinced that they're all living in a work of fiction.

He kicks into frantic action when the obvious main character meets his perfect mate. His reasoning is basically that their life definitely seems to be episodic. In an episodic story like theirs if the main character meets someone who is a pretty good match there's some hope that they'll go their separate ways at the end, or they'll end the episode together and separate before the next episode, but when main character meets the perfect person she'll be dead before the episode ends. (Or possessed, or turned evil by unpleasant circumstances, but most likely dead.)

She's beautiful, smart, funny, she gets along with everyone, everything is idyllic when she's around, so sidekick is completely convinced that she's too good to live.

Took me forever to discover that there is a trope for that.

Anyway, the story would be the character focused not on saving the [whatever]/stopping the [whatever] (that's a foregone conclusion in his mind) but on identifying and preventing any potential threat to the main character's love interest.

In the end everyone else would conclude that his paranoia had managed to help here survive an unlikely series of should-have-been-fatal events. He would conclude that by defying narrative dictate he had successfully shifted her into the category of recurring character, possibly even main cast. And I'm thinking he and she end up as best friends.

Don't have anything else about the story figured out, though I do know that I want the supposed-to-be-temporary love interest to be extremely competent to the point that the only reason she needs saving is that the narrative is actively trying to kill her. Also I don't want it to be actually be saving so much as providing assistance. She wouldn't need saving so much as support.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, that sounds very awesome, actually!

depizan said...

She wouldn't need saving so much as support.

Or a heads up. Most people aren't used to living in a world where the narrative is actively trying to kill them. This has a tendency to make the world bizarrely dangerous.

That idea is awesome, by the way.

hapax said...

If you're looking for a reverse Left Behind, I remember Nix's SHADE'S CHILDREN being pretty good along those lines. Of course, it's been a long time since I read it.

And Ana -- have you read China Mieville's UN LUN DUN? (Not that I think you're going anywhere that far into madness)

Though I think "genre-savvy characters" is in some ways the unifying theme of the decade. I've got a WIP trilogy with genre-savvy fairy-tale characters, and I was worried for a while that it was too much of a muchness; at this point I think it's become its own genre.

hapax said...

And jiminy Christmas, what's the deal with YA dystopia series? I am suffering from serious series fatigue. I keep asking my editor for more YA sf to review, and all I get are these freaking dystopias. Doesn't anybody write upbeat optimistic FOR SCIENCE!!!! young adult science fiction anymore?


(Meanwhile, tangential to the GRRM discussion -- current book-under-review has the grimmest, most depressing twelfth-century fantasy world I've encountered in a long times. Srsly, I think the female protagonist is going to end up falling in Twu Wuv with one of the male characters because he is the first man she has ever known who doesn't hit her.)

Cupcakedoll said...

And jiminy Christmas, what's the deal with YA dystopia series?

They're surfing the wave from how good Hunger Games was, just like the huge number of supernatural romances is surfing the wave from how popular Twilight was. That's my guess anyway.

Also, the world is in a crappy state right now and the real future looks almost as bleak as these books, so perhaps society is facing its fears by creating rotten futures and then surviving them.

Also, dystopias are fun to write.

Shade's Children is worth reading for the bizarreitude. Unfortunately the monsters aren't really explained and I'm not sure Mr. Nix quite succeeds in what he was trying to do with the child warriors. He didn't fully hit his writer groove until Sabriel when he became officially awesome and squee-worthy.

Brin Bellway said...

hapax: If you're looking for a reverse Left Behind, I remember Nix's SHADE'S CHILDREN being pretty good along those lines. Of course, it's been a long time since I read it.

My thoughts exactly. So long ago I would've survived the Change.

Cupcakedoll: Unfortunately the monsters aren't really explained

Yeah. It seemed like there should've been more. More about the Overlords, possibly perspectives from the outside. (As I recall, Word of God says the Overlords only took one continent, leaving the rest of the world intact*. From everyone else's point of view, Australia suddenly had a barrier around it and since then nothing's come in or out.)

*Which seems kind of weird, really. Go through all this trouble and not even conquer the whole planet?

Rowen said...

I'm rereading the Sabriel books right now, oddly enough. I'll have to check out Shade's Children.

I find it interesting that the Hunger Games has become SO popular, mainly cause, while I haven't read it but plan to, it sounds like a watered down version of Battle Royale (which has roots in The Long Walk. . . )

Anyway, now that I think about it, I was kinda surprised by the book series Uglies/Pretties/Specials. Has anyone else read them? It has some big flaws, but well, the main two characters are female AND they don't spend their time fighting over a boy, that I remember. (I do remember a love triangle that felt kinda tacked on, though).

Will Wildman said...

Every time I tried to post yesterday afternoon, Disqus would proceed to eat its own head. Here's hoping for better luck today!

Point the first: indeed, Gone is officially written by KA Applegate's husband, but they consider themselves a writing team, so she think he deserves a chunk of credit for Animorphs and he thinks she deserves a chunk of credit for Gone. Which I had heard was indeed the next Animorphs, but I find Ana's stated problems with the book all too probable (despite not having read it).

Point the second: maybe it's just my widening scope of awareness, but it seems to me that there's a strong atmosphere right now among many people that 'Everything's been done before'. We're getting remake and reboot movies (but sadly not ReBoot movies to explain what happened to Mainframe next) at an unprecedented rate, not to mention transmedia pollination (every interesting movie that appears seems to be based on a book).

If there's a current generational attitude that everything has been done, there is nothing new under the sun, and we always know what will happen next (I blame hipsters*) then presumably genre-savvy characters are the logical progression of that - going from the readers already knowing what's going on to having the characters recognise tropes from the inside.

I had an idea years back in which the Evil Overlord had been ruling supreme for a couple of decades, because he had made his own Evil Overlord List and not made any of the exploitable mistakes. Having discovered that ruling is boring and conquering is fun, he then set about crafting his kingdom into one big quest campaign to find an appropriate hero to overthrow him (while dismissing minor threats like huge armies, since everyone knows the only way to defeat an Evil Overlord is to have the Chosen One beat him in single combat). He was overjoyed to discover that someone had managed to flee with the king's infant son when he took over and that the kid was now questin' age; he immediately dispatched a wise old swamp woman to read the prince's fortune and give him a map to some basic adventuring regions (nothing full of cave drakes, those are too high-level).

Will Wildman said...

*Forgotten footnote: Hipsters need not worry, because I'm only blaming them ironically.

Ana Mardoll said...

but sadly not ReBoot movies to explain what happened to Mainframe next

I miss ReBoot. I liked that show when I was younger. :(

My biggest frustration is that a lot of the Book --> Movie efforts seem deliberately watered down to fit some kind of formula that I don't remember asking for. The Percy Jackson movie was dreadful. The Avatar movie was... well, I'm informed it was not true to the source material. The Golden Compass movie SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED WITHOUT MAKING ANA CRY FOR LOST OPPORTUNITIES.

If The Hunger Games movie sucks -- and I have no reason to believe that it won't -- I'll be deeply upset. :/

Will Wildman said...

I miss ReBoot. I liked that show when I was younger. :(

I tend to think of the series proper ending with season three, with the Gilbert and Sullivan recap song - the stuff that came after that was interesting but felt like it was pushing too hard to return to the old status quo rather than allow for ongoing change (or even a new status quo). But that is no excuse for leaving us on another gigantastic cliffhanger!


I still haven't read the books, but my date had, long before went we went to see it. Standard exchange for the next two hours: "So... have they stopped ruining it yet?" "No! This is all wrong!" In a way it's just as well; we would never have made a good couple, and a better movie might have distracted from that.

chris the cynic said...

Last I remember of Reboot they made it back to mainframe and ... rebooted. And there had been things said about some big ol' virus getting all of the whatever Bob was across the whole net (or whatever, it's been a while) so finding Bob, the one non-infected thingy, would be important, and they had found Bob, so presumably there were big things to come. But that was the last I heard of it.

Ana Mardoll said...

At least one good thing came out of the movie. It really was such a painful waste of potential -- scenes that were shot well had been rearranged so that the narrative was a MESS. If they'd just been arranged in the right order, it could have been much better.

And the ending! They shot the REAL ending and included it in the previews. I SAW IT. But they cut the real ending out of the movie because it wasn't Hollywood Friendly. I won't spoil more than that, except to say that I was SO disappointed.

I like the series a lot. The adults are sensible, there's low romantic angst, and almost all the characters are very ambiguously gray.

ReBoot, I can hardly remember except that I LOVED the Dungeon Crawler episode (Wizard, Warriors, and something?), I had a bit of a crush on Bob (it was the hair, I think), I thought Hexadecimal was a MUCH more interesting villain than Megabyte, and I hated how Dot was portrayed as a nagging shrew.

I can't remember ANY girl positive characters growing up. Miss Piggy is awesome in the movies, but much less so in the baby cartoons; Smurfette was... let's move on, Dot was shrewish and annoying. I liked the Ariel / Little Mermaid cartoons and occasionally Jasmine was allowed to kick butt in the Aladdin cartoons -- there's one with Mosenrath and her that I quite liked -- but that was pretty much it. Rainbow Brite was pretty awesome for its time, though. I keep looking for that one movie where she meets the boy whose horse is black and called Onyx. Which one was that?

chris the cynic said...

I'm going to say that was Rainbow Bright and the Star Stealer. But be aware that part of the reason is probably that that is the only Rainbow Bright thing I could possibly name.

Boy had a mechanical flying horse, as I recall.

Ana Mardoll said...

I think that's the one. Oooh, look! Available from Amazon Instant Video. w00t!

Rowen said...

You can probably watch it online, too. I rewatched a bunch of Rainbow Brite episodes that way.

Will Wildman said...

chris: The point in the storyline that you refer to (rebooting the whole city) was the season three finale, but there were an additional eight episodes produced later (two four-part 'movies') that messed a bunch of stuff up again, in addition to wasting various plotlines and undoing cool stuff. And then we got another cliffhanger.

ReBoot, I can hardly remember except that I LOVED the Dungeon Crawler episode (Wizard, Warriors, and something?), I had a bit of a crush on Bob (it was the hair, I think), I thought Hexadecimal was a MUCH more interesting villain than Megabyte, and I hated how Dot was portrayed as a nagging shrew.

ReBoot got better over time with its female characters - Dot became a bit less naggy and more commandery, and was no longer the token female once they added action girl Andraia (I think it was officially spelled AndrAIa, which is just sad) and literal hacker Mouse (she cracks codes softly and carries a big katana). Dot was pretty much stuck being The Chick, though.

Everything about Hexadecimal was magnificent, and her part in the ending of the first movie would have been an excellent example for me to recall when I was writing that blog post about heroic villains. Basically, she saves the world (not the computer, I mean the actual Earth) and was only able to do so because of her virus nature and heroic choice.

Good female characters in other shows are not coming to mind. Digimon did all right, I think, but it remained pretty male-centric on average.

Cupcakedoll said...

Oh the Hunger Games movie... I WANT to believe it'll be good, I WANT to have faith that they won't screw up the indefinable things that made the books good, I WANT the believe it won't be watered down into "just another movie" but... s'like that bigfoot body in the cooler, I WANTED to believe it was real but I knew in my heart it was probably just a gorilla suit, and such did it turn out to be. =(

Hunger Games certainly is a lot like Battle Royale, one feels that the author read Battle Royale and ran with it, but she ran in a good direction creating the society that could send kids into the arena and fleshing out the characters since her main cast was smaller than the what, forty kids on the island? And I think Hunger Games was meant to be a story while Battle Royale is a commentary on some aspect of Japanese society that my American self cannot fully grasp.

I liked the Uglies trilogy. Scott Westerfeld is GOOD, he never leaves a rifle on a wall without shooting it and you can watch him write the setup for everything that happens to poor Tally. And so many things happen to her. Ana, you should read these. You'd like 'em.

Ana Mardoll said...

I haven't heard of them, I don't think. I'll have to add them to the list. :)

Gelliebean said...

I love, love, love Hexadecimal.... :-D She was my first introduction to how very awesome a villainess could be (as in, not falling into the older woman jealous of younger women, or the one who uses sex appeal at every turn - no, she's just plain bonkers and has a great time at it!) And I think AndrAIa's name was spelled that way to emphasize the "AI" part of it, since she came out of a game. Which is kind of silly, now that I think about it, since all the sprites and binomes already live inside a computer and could all be called artificial intelligence. :-p

Speaking of which.... I just checked Amazon and discovered that seasons 1 & 2 are out on DVD! I had been checking every few months or so for the last several years, and finally gave up hope....

Rowen said...

I haven't heard much about the Hunger Games other then people going on about the child on child violence that occurs, and ranting about said stuff. Battle Royale had . . . a lot in it, and yeah there was a lot that was very Commentary on Japanese Society Taken to an Extreme. I did like how you got a glimpse into every student, though. It still kinda freaked me out. Especially the manga, but that's because they made the manga very fanservicey. I only read a few editions.

The funny thing about the Uglies books is that when I first read them, I hadn't read much modern YA literature, so, comparing them to my Sweet Valley High books, they were AMAZING. Comparing them to some of my adult (no, not THAT adult) lit, was a different story. But, . . looking back, he does some really amazing things. AND the fact that the love triangle is so not central to the story at all AND the two main girls fight over where they think they belong in society as opposed to which boy is cuter.

Rikalous said...

There's a fourth book to the Uglies trilogy called Extras. It has a new protagonist who's dealing with the way the world changed due to the shenanigans in the main trilogy.

Mime_Paradox said...

Thanks to everyone who filled me in on K.A. Applegate's relationships with Grant and Grant's history with Animporphs. It's interesting, and that being the case, I'm not sure if I'm disappointed that Gone appears to miss the mark. While Animorphs crap-to-awesomeness ratio wasn't terribly good, from what I remember, what worked worked particularly well. I mentioned Rachel before: part of what I loved about the character is that we had someone who appeared to be tailor-made for the Daphne role in the Animorphs Scooby Gang--The Pretty One whose main interests lie in stereotypically female things--and then they went and turned her into Xena: Warrior Princess without compromising her love for shopping and clothes and gymnastics. Both were intrinsically her, and that was alright by the book. Plus, interracial romances.

Will Wildman said...

While Animorphs crap-to-awesomeness ratio wasn't terribly good, from what I remember, what worked worked particularly well.

I think Animorphs suffered considerably when it got turned into a monthly series (starting with book 8) and, unsurprisingly, when ghostwriters started doing the bulk of the actual writing (starting with book 26, I think, and providing further evidence that 'stealing someone's ideas' would never work unless you could also steal their skills).

As I recall, Applegate said she was surprised to receive absolutely zero complaints about the Cassie/Jake romance.

I hear they're releasing a 'remastered' version of the series with new covers and fresh editing, but I'd be more enthused with a redraft to cut the 50+ series down to a leaner, contiguous storyline. (I got where KAA was going with that choice of ending, and it's good and right, but it was still seriously out of tone with the series up to that point.)

Mime_Paradox said...

Ooh, a re-edited version Animorphs sounds like it could be wonderful--there's definitively a lot of material prime for cutting out. One thing I do wonder though, is how the character focus would work out if you removed the less necessary parts, particularly since the series' format assured that everyone (except Tobias and Ax) got roughly 20% of the page time. Would we suddenly find that half of Marco's books have been excised, while Tobias keeps 90% of his? Would some of the group suddenly find themselves relegated to secondary cast? It's something to think about.

Zero complaints? Wow. Somebody should tell the film industry.

Will Wildman said...

Zero complaints? Wow. Somebody should tell the film industry.

According to the cast, the oft-referenced Uhura/Kirk kiss only got one complaint from a viewer as well, although I think there were quite a few stations that refused to carry the episode outright. Media controllers* in general seem to have a tendency to underestimate the population.

Animorphs quality might or might not have been equally distributed among characters, but it would depend on how much rewriting was plausible. If the 50+ books were cut to, say, 18, I bet there are at least three great stories per character (and if there somehow weren't, then surely there are at least high-potential stories that could be adapted).

As an exercise a few months back, I tried to imagine how I would plot out an Animorphs movie trilogy, at which point the question was "Which elements are absolutely most vital to the story?" because no matter what, some really great parts would be cut. I think Cassie would probably be at the greatest risk in a situation like that, since her plots tended to be more mental/emotional than action-intensive. It'd be hard slowing down the whole invasion to do the sequence where she debates and negotiates with a yeerk over the morality of control (I think book 19?), even though it's such a powerful story and key moment in the long run.

*This is of course a great phrase to use in the context of Animorphs and censorship.

Ursula said...

Hi, longtime lurker here. I actually, for some strange reason, read up until the middle of the third book in the series. I personally found the size of the cast in the first book to be well handled despite its immensity but Grant then adds on literally 10 + characters including a group of kids a la Brad and Angelina taken from the streets of their home countries to live on an island. It would have been a good theme to explore, had the stereotypes not smacked me in the face every time I read their POVs.

Also, Sam becomes annoying and Astrid, perplexingly, becomes judgemental. You'll be happy to know that the sidekick, Quinn, becomes useful and even instrumental in the survival of the town by the time I quit reading.

I grew up on ReBoot too! That was simply, in my opinion, one of the best shows on TV at the time and one of the first times I had seen characters in cartoon (I think) series where everyone had a range of skin colors. And Hexadecimal was my favorite as well. Her craziness was infectious. :)

J Green (The Green Library) said...

Hi Ana, been a while since I've checked your blog but saw this book. I picked it up from Vine a few years ago and really enjoyed it. But I can see your point of the 'stock' characters. Me and 2 of my kids have read all 4 books that are current out and liked them (things start getting a little more 'adult' in the 4th book - not sure why authors think they have to include that in 'YA' books) but if you didn't really enjoy this one you might be better off skipping the rest.

As for dystopian books, did you see The Eleventh Plague on Vine? My kids and I all loved that one, too. And I've found some old 50s sci-fi to be pretty interesting - stuff like The Day of the Triffids and the Chrysalids. Might be worth a look.

Ana Mardoll said...

Ursula and J Green,

Thank you for adding to the conversation about the books -- I love hearing from other people on a series, because it's such a good indication of whether or not I'll like the rest. (Astrid becomes judgmental? Noooooo. I liked her when she wasn't barefoot in the kitchen making sammiches.)

I haven't read Eleventh Plague, but I'll have to check that one out. I *think* I have Day of the Triffids in eBook form. I'll have to look. :D

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