Since I missed our literature circle for our YA book, here are my thoughts on Gone by Michael Grant (as well as the rest of the Gone series).
Warning: LOTS of spoilers ahead!
The quick description of Gone: Everyone over the age of 15 suddenly disappears and a barrier appears around the town, trapping in all of the children. Soon many of the children discover that they have super powers, and not only that, but that the animals in the dome are also mutating. The book has been described as Lord of the Flies if it had been written by Stephen King.
So, right away, I’ll admit to cheating. The second I finished reading Gone I immediately looked up the full summaries of the other five books in the series. I didn’t have the patience to read through five more books in order to get the full story, I wanted to know right away.
Here is a brief summary of the Gone series: The town the series is set in is home to a nuclear power plant. Years ago, what was originally thought to be a meteorite, slammed into one of the reactors. The damage was contained and repaired and all is well… or so they think. We find out later that it wasn’t a meteorite but an alien lifeform. The alien lifeform is mutated by the uranium and becomes an evil being called The Gaiaphage (also known as The Darkness). The Darkness’ mutation is also the cause of the children’s super powers (think X-Men mutants and their random powers). But what caused the adults to disappear and the barrier around the town? Little Pete. Pete is a four-year-old autistic boy with powers stronger than all of the other children. Because he is severely autistic, he isn’t able to control the powers. The day the barrier went up and the adults disappeared was the day that Little Pete’s father brought him to work at the nuclear power plant. The Darkness triggered the alarms to go off, which caused Pete to have a breakdown. The adults in the room tried to help, but everything got louder and suddenly… the alarms turn off, the adults disappear, and Little Pete goes back to calmly playing his Gameboy. In his autistic panic, Little Pete got rid of the loud adults and kept them out. Throughout the series he uses his powers here and there, but always when he is afraid/upset. The book calls his power the power of wish. He can essentially do anything he wants. But like I said, he doesn’t have control of it, so he only uses his powers to get what he wants when he is upset.
Things go from bad to worse when the kids start to run out of food for themselves, and diapers and formula for the babies (it is pointed out that only the babies in the abandoned daycare are taken care of, the ones left alone in homes are dead/dying). Then the mutated animals begin to kill the children. On top of that they have the evil Darkness to deal with. Astrid, Pete’s sister, originally tries to protect him, but she knows he’s the cause of the barrier. She knows that if everyone is to survive, the barrier needs to come down, but the only one who can do that is Pete. So she kills him. But the barrier doesn’t come down. That’s because while Pete is dead, his spirit didn’t move on. Instead his spirit stays. This is when Pete stops being autistic. It turns out it was his body that made him autistic, but once he left his body, he is no longer autistic. He knows that he needs to destroy The Darkness (he is the only one with the power) and that he needs to take down the barrier. He can’t do that without a body, so he possesses one of the Darkness’ evil minions. Him and The Darkness battle it out and they both end up getting destroyed. The barrier comes down, all of the children lose their powers, and everything goes back to normal (or as normal as it can get).
And that’s the Gone series. It’s surprisingly dark for a MG/YA series. Dead babies, sisters murdering brothers, and all kinds of chaos.
But this class is about autism. Little Pete is an accurate portrayal of an autistic four-year-old. He has all of the classic symptoms. And I imagine that if any real-life autistic child suddenly had super powers, something like this could happen. It’s an interesting concept. What happens if someone who is neurodivergent or someone with a disability gains super powers? It’s not totally original (X-Men has done it), but it’s still a thought-provoking story.