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Book Review

Light by Michael Grant has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the sixth book in the “Gone” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

To the outside world, the children inside the now transparent dome that makes up the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) are dangerous. They watched as Sam burned Gaia, whom they perceived as an innocent toddler. They have read stories written by the surviving children about the murders, hunger and terror they have experienced. The names Caine and Drake are mentioned in a lot of their stories. Some on the outside believe the entire dome should be nuked. Others call for the children to be imprisoned, if the dome ever comes down.

Diana is now a prisoner of Gaia, the twisted child she gave birth to who was then possessed by the gaiphage. Gaia, now a little girl of about 10, was wounded in the battle with Caine and Sam, but because she is able to draw on the powers of the mutants within the FAYZ, she is slowly healing from her burns.

Diana learns that Gaia is nearsighted, and that her powers are more limited now that she is in a human body. Gaia uses the powers of the mutants she has connected with, including Sam, Caine, Brianna and Lana. If she kills them, she loses the ability to use their powers.

Gaia is desperate to face Little Pete, whom she calls Nemesis, in a battle to decide who will survive. She wants to kill Nemesis so she can leave the FAYZ and conquer the rest of the world. Pete, however, is beginning to fade from existence, since his sister, Astrid, tossed him to a horde of carnivorous insects. He saved himself by projecting his consciousness to some other realm, not in the FAYZ, but not in the real world either.

Pete learned that he can interact with others within the FAYZ, but when he does, he hurts them. His touch changes their DNA, morphing them into bizarre creatures, which often die. As Pete begins to weaken, Gaia is able to manipulate the dome, causing a thrill seeker climbing on it to fall through.

The man’s name is Alex. She rips off his arm for food, and then forces him to follow her so that she can continue to snack on him if she grows hungry. When she broke through the dome, it hurt Little Pete. One of the few lessons he remembers from being human is that it is not OK to hurt people. He realizes Gaia has been hurting people and resolves to find a way to stop her.

Sam heads down to Perdido Beach to enlist Caine’s help to kill Gaia. Edilio will take over the running of the town with the help of Quinn. Although reluctant at first, Caine agrees, mainly because of his unspoken love for Diana. Edilio asks Quinn to take a boat out to the island Alberto escaped to when he thought the FAYZ was going to stay in darkness. Without Alberto’s help to motivate the surviving children to harvest food, everyone will starve before the dome can come down.

Meanwhile, Brianna has found Drake, the sadistic minion of the gaiphage, who enjoys torturing others with his tentacle arm, using it as a whip to slash their bodies. Brianna uses her super speed, a thin wire and a machete to slice Drake into pieces. As he cannot be killed, the pieces try and reassemble themselves, but she takes them to different places, throwing some into the ocean, tossing others into the desert.

She takes Drake's head, which had been split into two pieces but then reattached itself with a lizard inside, and brings it to the lake community where she hopes to impress Sam with her trophy. As Sam has already left, Astrid takes charge of the monstrosity. She puts Drake’s head in a cooler, weighs it down with rocks, and sinks it to the bottom of the lake.

Lana, the healer, has been working to restore Taylor, a girl with teleportation powers. Little Pete had touched her, turning her into a misshapen creature with gold skin. Her legs and hands were amputated during the process.

Lana has tried to reattach them, unsuccessfully. Thinking that Taylor may be more plant matter than mammal now, she asks a girl with a green thumb to try splicing Taylor’s limbs back on. Eventually, Taylor regains enough of herself so she can teleport again. Little Pete reaches out to her and tries to undo some of the damage he accidently caused. She becomes more human, but still retains her golden skin. She is able to talk but will never be the same Taylor.

Albert agrees to return to Perdido Beach. He knows if he does not, and the dome comes down, he will be labeled a coward. By going back and motivating the children to work again, he will be a hero and will be able to write his own ticket to success when the dome comes down. He returns with Quinn and is able to get the children back to work, harvesting what little crops they have so they will not starve.

Diana learns that Gaia is intent on killing everyone within the FAYZ to prevent Little Pete from taking over a body and fighting her. Diana manages to escape and make her way to the lake community to try and warn them. Without Sam, the children have little hope against Gaia.

Gaia laughs as she slaughters many of the lake community. Brianna is able to shoot Gaia, severing the creature’s leg. The wounded Gaia limps off to heal.

She encounters Sam and Caine, who battle her together. Gaia cripples Sam’s body, breaking several of his limbs so he is unable to move. She is able to send intense pain into Caine’s brain, incapacitating him to the point that he is forced to follow her or be tortured.

The children of Perdido Beach try to ambush Gaia, but she is too powerful. Several are killed, including Brianna. Gaia escapes again to heal her wounds and finds Alex.

He has rescued Drake’s head from the lake. Gaia rips off Alex’s head so she can attach Drake’s head to Alex's body and restore her most powerful minion. Drake insists she restore his whip arm as well.

Drake begins to despise Gaia for her human weakness. His goal is no longer to serve her, but to find and torture Astrid and Diana. He captures Astrid and delights in whipping her. But Astrid has become stronger in the FAYZ and is able to bite off his nose and pop out one of his eyeballs. Before he can regenerate, she escapes.

The surviving leaders of the children have come to the realization that there are only two ways Gaia may be defeated. The first is to have Caine and Sam sacrifice themselves — by killing themselves or allowing Gaia to kill them. This will cause her to lose their powers. Without their strength, the nonmutant children would be able overcome her.

The second option is for another child to sacrifice himself or herself to Little Pete, allowing him to possess a body so he may physically fight Gaia. When missiles taken from an abandoned military base fail to kill her, three children — Astrid, Diana and Caine — call out to Little Pete and ask him to take over their bodies. In the end, Pete chooses to possess Caine in order to defeat Gaia. The two face off in an epic battle of light, burning each other into ash, until both die.

The dome over the FAYZ disappears and, with the sudden rush of oxygen, sets a wild fire that heads toward the beach. As kids flee to safety, Sam sets out to find Drake to punish him for hurting Astrid. Before they can fight, Drake’s regenerated body falls apart. The surviving children are taken to hospitals for treatment, and the dead are counted. A total of 332 had been confined in the FAYZ. About 136 died from starvation, accidents, flu, suicide, murder, coyotes and other animals.

Sam is kept separated from the other children in his hospital room. He has become the public’s scapegoat and calls to prosecute him fill the media. Caine, however, left two messages before he died. To Diana, he wrote that he loved her. But in another, left in the secluded island mansion of Hollywood royalty, he left a confessional note that everything that happened within the FAYZ was his fault.

Caine claimed he had the power to control people mentally, and he forced the others to do all the horrible things they did. The actors join with Astrid to write a book and screenplay about life in the FAYZ. Sam, Astrid and Diana get an apartment together in Los Angeles and attempt, along with the other survivors, to move on with their lives.

Christian Beliefs

Orc, a boy who has been mutated into a stone creature, has found comfort in a new and child-like faith in Christ. He reads a Bible and tries to memorize verses, but without someone to teach him, sometimes misinterprets things.

He thinks the “staff” mentioned in Psalm 23 is actually a staff of angels that work for God. He prays that the dome will never come down, as he knows people would think him a monster. He also knows that if he ever saw his father again, he would kill him, and he does not want to commit that sin.

Orc knows he is a better person since finding God. He is not as angry, and he no longer drinks. A character prays for God to save her from a coyote that wants to eat her. Orc arrives and scares the coyote away. He is thrilled to think he was an answer to prayer. He tells the girl to tell Astrid that God listened — Astrid had abandoned her faith.

Alex rants that Gaia is God’s judgement. He references the seals in Revelation. He thinks about how he was a lapsed Methodist. Diana believes Gaia is God’s punishment on her for resorting to cannibalism to survive.

As Edilio faces Gaia, he says the words of the rosary. Astrid, who has lost her faith, thinks about how in the old days she would have prayed and pretended that God answered her prayers. Sam asks Astrid whether she thinks Jesus committed suicide by dying on the Cross. She retorts that His death is different because Jesus knew He was God and would be resurrected. Sam’s suicide would be more meaningful than Christ’s since Sam would stay dead.

Sam prays for God to forgive him as he tries to kill himself, but Gaia stops him. People outside the FAYZ think the kids within the dome should be killed so that God can sort them out. Others think that the FAYZ is satanic and that God-fearing people need to be protected from the children.

Many times, characters subtly mock Christianity. When Alex mutters “Jesus” under his breath in response to something Diana says, she replies that Jesus has not been seen much within the FAYZ. Lana thinks about how God decides their futures with a dice roll. Drake thinks of himself as Jesus with a whip, resurrected to murder people.

Other Belief Systems

Sam compares Astrid to Athena on Mount Olympus. Those inside the FAYZ think of Gaia and Little Pete as being god-like. Gaia uses their fear of her powers to control them. Many, including Alex, Drake and Brittany worship Gaia, serving her as an act of worship. Drake feels this way until he realizes that in its human form, the gaiphage is weak.

Authority Roles

Sam and Caine’s mother is the only adult’s perspective mentioned in the story. She struggles to find a way to save her sons. When Sam is finally free of the FAYZ, she admits that she had an affair before he was born. She allows him to emancipate himself from her so that he can live with Astrid.

Profanity/Violence

God’s name is used in vain alone and with oh my, swear to and thank. The expression Good Lord is used. Jesus’s name is also used as an expression. A-- is used alone and with the words bad and tired. H---, d--nand b--ch are used. Other objectionable words are dyke, butt and balls.

A brutal mutilation or death of a child occurs in almost every chapter of the story. When the story begins, Gaia is a young girl of about 10. She transports a young man into the FAYZ, rips his arm off while he is still alive and then eats it while he watches. She cauterizes the wound but carries what remains of his arm so she can snack on it as she gets hungry.

Gaia delights in causing pain and watching people suffer. She is connected to Diana and Caine in such a way that she can make it feel like their brains are going to explode. She likes to hear them scream in agony. She laughs as she lifts helpless children into the air and then burns them with her laser light.

She blows up boats filled with children. Children are torn apart in explosions. Gaia enjoys the sound of their bones breaking or their bodies being squished like water balloons when she drops something heavy on them. A body is described as looking like a toy soldier that had been melted in a microwave.

Gaia kills many other children by crushing their head, burning them, dropping them from great heights, crushing their spines or their throats and in many other gruesome ways. The children try and fight back, injuring her with fire and with guns, but she is invincible.

Only Little Pete, when he inhabits Caine’s body, can defeat Gaia. They shoot each other with laser lights. The disintegration of their bodies is described in detail, including their eyes boiling out of their sockets and their skin melting off.

Brianna hacks Drake’s body into pieces and tries to dispose of them all before he can reassemble himself. His brain is described as a cauliflower that had been split down the middle. The two pieces of his head mend themselves, but with one half looking one way and the other in the opposite direction. A lizard is caught between them so its tail sticks out.

Astrid puts the severed head into a cooler and throws it into the water. Drake is conscious of this happening to him. Gaia rips off Alex’s head so she can attach Drake’s head to his body. Drake is then consumed with thoughts of torturing Diana and Astrid. He fantasizes about making them scream as he flails their skin from their bodies.

He whips Astrid, but she is able to bite off his nose. She also sticks her fingers into his eyes, pulling one out and squishing the other so that he must stop hurting her and wait to regenerate again.

This is only a summary of the violence, and not a complete catalog of all the deaths and mutilations that occur in the story.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Astrid and Sam share several kisses. They also have sex several times, but it is not described in detail. Lana and her boyfriend, Sanjit, sleep in the same bed, but it is not known if they have sex together. Caine misses Diana and often thinks about her body and being intimate with her. When they are reunited, they kiss several times. They also have sex. A curiosity seeker on the outside flashes her breasts at Quinn, who is only in his teens.

Dekka is a lesbian with an unrequited love for Brianna. She is devastated when Gaia kills Brianna. Edilio is a homosexual. He is crushed when he believes Gaia has killed his lover. Soon after escaping the FAYZ, however, he learns his boyfriend is still alive. Edilio summons the courage to tell his parents that he is gay so he can visit his boyfriend in the hospital.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Tobacco: Lana smokes cigarettes. Alberto smokes a cigar.

Alcohol: Orc used to drink every day until he passed out. Connie drinks wine with a friend.

Stealing: Sam escapes from his hospital room and steals money from a desk drawer.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org. Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

16 and up

Author

Michael Grant

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Katherine Tegan Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Released

On Video

Year Published

2013

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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