TPG Reviews: Gone (Parallel Trilogy #1), by Christine Kersey
Y’ know, given that most of my recent blog posts have revolved around my own novel, I felt a bit cruddy when writing this. Still, I consider this to be a review blog as much as it is a writing blog and…well…
A novel concept, completely and utterly buried by the execution. Not recommended.
What if everything you knew was suddenly gone?
Sixteen-year-old Morgan Campbell runs away from home and when she returns the next day her world is turned upside-down. Not only is her family missing, but another family is living in her house and claims to have lived there for weeks.
My rating: 1/5
As I think back over Gone, the first book of what is set to be trilogy, I can’t help but wonder to myself if I’ve missed something. I read this book after hearing good things from a relative – a relative who, I might add, has read widely over her lifetime. A quick glance at the book’s amazon page informed me that she was far from the only person who came away happy after reading it. General opinion on this book, it seems, is very positive.
And yet despite all of the above, I did not get on with this book. By the end, I was close to outright hating it. Hardly anything in this novel worked for me. The setting, plot, characters and pacing are all broken beyond repair, and I can think of no-one I could recommend this to in good faith.
Our heroine is one Morgan Campbell, a 16-year-old girl who heroically…er…runs away from home after being told she can’t have a new cellphone. She regrets the decision soon after – as you would – but by that time is lost in a forest and is forced to seek shelter in an abandoned cabin overnight. A fallen tree forces her to leave the cabin via an underground tunnel, which transports her to a parallel dimension without her even realizing. Why, I hear you asking? Because.
This new dimension is much like ours; it even has Google, for one thing! There is, however, one crucial difference between Morgan’s new world and the one we’re all familiar with: in the former, the federal Government strictly monitors the weight of all citizens, with the overweight liable to be summarily interned in a Federally Assisted Thinning (or F.A.T.) facility until they are deemed suitably thin. As a parody, this could have been a work of genius; played seriously, however, it’s just too absurd for words. Schools, shops and media constantly bombard the populace with food-related propaganda, yet the Government apparently stays out its citizen’s lives in most other respects. How such a lopsided system could come about, one can only guess.
After realizing the extent of her predicament, a mildly exciting sequence follows in which Morgan attempts to track down the parallel universe’s version of her family. After she finds them, however, the pacing promptly nosedives. Filling in time until she can try to go home, Morgan starts a new school term and quickly becomes embroiled in a painfully vapid highschool romance that revolves around her ability to bake cookies (no, really). She develops somewhat throughout this, but never to the point where her narration stops sounding self-centered. The parallel universe’s version of Morgan conveniently never shows up (because…well, because), meaning that the resident Alpha Bitch is the only source of conflict for much of the book’s second half. It’s all a tragic waste of the book’s premise, and at no point did this become fun to read.
Nothing is resolved over the course of the book, by the way. The book ends on a cliffhanger with the obvious aim of making you want buy the next book in the trilogy. Given that I will not be continuing this series, it finished on a rather bum note for me.
So is there anything good about it at all? A few things, actually. Morgan’s initial travels in the parallel universe were compelling to read, as I’ve already mentioned, and the climax of the novel was genuinely thrilling. The basic writing style, while repetitive at times, was very clear and I never had a problem following what was going on. Last but not least is that Morgan herself was believable as a character, irritating though she was.
Over on Amazon, the book is marketed as a children’s dystopian novel. Frankly, I disagree. While the dystopian elements are certainly tame enough to fit in a kids’ book, the actual writing is more on par with a YA work. That said, I wouldn’t personally suggest this book for either audience. Or anyone at all, for that matter.