Friday, May 21, 2010


I’ve been sick the past couple of days. And the only thing that’s good about it is that before I got sick, I went to the library and borrowed a stack of books. I went hoping that some of the books I’d put on hold were in. They weren’t. So I did the scan the shelves and pick out books—judging them by their covers and the teaser on the inside cover.

Wednesday I finished a YA book titled Gone by Michael Grant. It had a beautiful cover and the teaser looked interesting. Ariel, who went with me to the library, sneered. Apparently she’d started the book and never finished it. I finished it. Here’s my take.

The premise is interesting. One day, for no apparent reason, everyone aged 15 and older disappears. And as people turn 15, they disappear. Of course, with adults gone, and huge power vacuum develops with the good kids and bad kids fighting it out. They use guns and “powers.” Some kids develop them, some kids don’t.

The book wasn’t bad. It kept me reading. Two problems, though. One, the first third of the book wasn’t all that well written. I kept thinking, “Show, don’t tell!” It was almost enough to make me stop. But I really, really wanted to find out what was happening to the kids and if they’d be rescued or rescue themselves, which leads me to problem number two. The book hints at what’s gone wrong (no spoilers), but doesn’t work it out clearly. And in the end the bad guys lose, sort of. They slink off until another day (sequel?). And “The Darkness” is never explained (sequel?). Here’s the issue. As a writer you can leave the door open for sequels, but you’ve got to “spend every emotional penny.” If you don’t resolve most of the issues, the readers feel like they’ve been ripped off. Like the book was teasing them. I don’t know about you, but I hate being teased.


  1. Oh I know! It was the same with Charlie Bone. Charlie Bone had a cool cover and a neat-o premise but was so poorly written that I shelved it..

    I did read Hunger Games! What a gooood book! Its not my favorite, but still, very good.

    Grace Duke

  2. Great line about spending every emotional penny--and I've read very few books that deliberately avoided explaining something and succeeded. One was _Into the Forest_, which never explains exactly what caused the collapse of civilization it portrays, as it's told from the PoV of a family that couldn't realistically know. The book wasn't perfect though--I'm leery of recommending it :)

  3. Grace-

    You've got to read Catching Fire! It's every bit as good as THG, maybe even better, which is amazing for a sequel.

  4. I'll have to look for that:)

    Oh, by the by...they are making a Hunger Games movie. Set for 2011. Ok....I can just see how that will end up....

  5. You can never judge a book by it's cover... But you CAN judge it by it's inside teaser. Heh heh.

  6. Hmmn, I really liked what you had to say about "spending every emotional penny" (I read that other post too). I think I get what you mean, but I'm not quite sure. (Maybe I need to read Catching Fire, first. I have it on order and I think I'll be pre-ordering Mockingjay too!)