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Book Review: Fear by Michael Grant

fear michael grant Book Review: Fear by Michael Grant

'Note: this review is for book five in a series, and will no doubt contain spoilers

Regular readers of this site will know that both my husband and I are ardent fans of Michael Grants Gone series. And the recently released Fear, the penultimate volume in the sextet, is quite possibly my favourite outing in this excellent series yet.

Its been more than a year since the adults in Perdido ('Lost') Beach vanished, leaving the towns youth to fend for themselves. What follows is a survival scenario worthy of The Lord of the Flies, and Grant continuously pushes it into ever more disconcerting, discomforting territories. Theres the brutality involved in forging an existence in a landscape that no longer obeys the natural laws the youth are used to; theres the ongoing struggle for power, and for some semblance of democracy; theres the looming threat of a greater evil that lurks at the boundaries of their world.

And now theres the threat of utter darkness.

And its this, more than anything that strikes fear into the heart of the survivors. Think the utter terror involved in John Wyndhams Day of the Triffids, for example: a threat that would otherwise be manageable in a sighted world becomes impossible in a world where sight is taken away. Humans, after all, are so very reliant on sight'its arguably our strongest sense and one that we need for our very survival. Basic tasks such preparing food, moving around, finding somewhere to sleep, or keeping safe from others, are almost insurmountable without it. Its perhaps no surprise, then, that so many of us are afraid of the dark, particularly in our youth.

And when it comes to Grants Fear, its the youth were talking about.

When the dome that covers what was once Perdido Beach begins to darken, the kids know that its only a matter of time before theyre thrust into darkness and the tentative of civilisation theyve worked so hard to build is swept away.

Fear is also palpable not only in the childrens fear of the dark, but also in what that fear means: its the fear of the unknown, the fear of what our imaginations can conjure. Theres some truth to that old adage about not showing a monsters face in a film because whatever we can imagine will be so much worse than whatever the set designer can come up with. Grant uses this to extraordinary effect with the vicious character of Penny, who can conjure up oh-so-real illusionsboth good and bad, but with a clear preference for the horrific. Everyone is constantly reminded that their fear is all in their heads, but thats what makes it so awful.

Fear of these personal demons marks a turning point for a number of the characters, and with'Fear'Grant positions the series for what can only be a tremendous conclusion.

New characters fight for power, undermining the delicate political systems; others, such as Astrid the 'Genius' change substantially, with survival at all odds at the top of their agenda. Others again, those (unnamed!) characters) known for their cruelty and ends-justifies-the-means outlooks, are allowed to reign if it means possible survival in the face of the darkness to come. And somehow, Grant manages to use their newfound weakness to paint them in a surprisingly sympathetic light.

Where some characters continue to turn towards the darkness or to struggle with their inner demons, others, such as Quinn, who at the beginning of the series was known for his cowardice, continue to prove themselves in this world. Edilio, too, a bad-boy illegal, as he paints himself, remains a steadfast force for good. As has been the case throughout the series, its the characters who dont have special X-Men like powers who seem most at ease with their new existence and most able to succeed against the odds. And often, these are the very characters who are so often done away with in the early scenes of a horror film or novel'the minorities, the trangressors, the outcasts.

Fear also gives us a glimpse of whats beyond the dome, and while I dont want to give too much away here, Im hotly anticipating what comes of this in the final volume of this consistently excellent series.

Rating: star Book Review: Fear by Michael Grantstar Book Review: Fear by Michael Grantstar Book Review: Fear by Michael Grantstar Book Review: Fear by Michael Grantblankstar Book Review: Fear by Michael Grant (exellent)

With thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont Australia for the review copy

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  1. Ive read 3 books in this series so Im behind (and I didnt read your review completely). Sounds like it doesnt get stale, so I will continue reading the series. Thanks for the review.

    • Stephanie /

      It certainly doesnt lag, Judithits one of my favourite currently running series, and I definitely recommend sticking with it.