This book pretty much completely overruled everything negative I may have said about Lies
. The last book seemed like the series was running out of juice and I found it impossible to believe that Grant could sustain the story throughout the 3 more books he had planned. But alas, all is forgiven and Plague was pretty much awesome, apart from some of the same old annoying factors that got on my nerves before in Gone
. Books 1 and 2 built up this overall plot about the radiation effects from the power plant and how it all led to the mutations and superpowers blah-de-blah... we also began to find out that the adults had known something about what was happening before the FAYZ incident. Cool and
interesting. Then Lies
just died a miserable and boring death. Grant's writing was still undeniably good but the story wasn't polished - it felt to me that Grant hadn't fully worked out where the story was going after Hunger
. I was therefore apprehensive about reading Plague
. But no, the story is well and truly back in full swing.
The plot was incredible - this time around Michael Grant
simply did not have the word 'boring' in his dictionary - and not to mention extremely gory. As in, flu that makes you cough up your lungs (literally) gory... and insects that eat you from the inside kind of gory. Damn, this author does not bother to spare the reader any detailed nastiness! I also have to point out that any reluctance I had in picking up this book was more or less eradicated by the opening sentence. I have ranted and complained in previous reviews about Sam being such an unrealistic, self-sacrificing character. I mean, he's fifteen years old, he should not be such a do-gooder. I distinctly remember saying that at fifteen he should be drinking like a fish and raiding the porn sections at local stores... so imagine my utter delight when I opened the book and chapter one, first line: "Sam Temple was drunk". I had to laugh at the hilarity of it.
And yes, it appears to be mostly true: Sam has finally got over his self-sacrificing hero phase and has now moved on to the tortured emo phase. There is only one boy who successfully worked the hero image at fifteen years old - Harry Potter - and we all know he got blasted in the forehead as baby, whereas Sam Temple had no such excuse. Now we've moved on to the characters in this book (and believe me, I have a lot to say), I should probably point out how much I hate Astrid. She said it herself towards the end, something about how everyone must think she's a hypocritical, sanctimonious bitch. Well, yeah, and I wonder why? Maybe it's because you spout all this religious scripture about sin and God's will and then spend half this book wondering if you should murder your autistic brother. I think we're supposed to feel sorry for her... and hey, maybe it's just me, but it really didn't work in my opinion. Oh and the whole sex thing in this book: either do it or don't but please stop making it into a huge God issue. I don't know what was more annoying: Sam's constant whining because Astrid won't have sex with him... or the fact that she won't have sex with him for fear it will lead her deeper into sin (murder's okay but sex is just plain evil). She is a teenage girl from a regular high school in a town on the sunny shores of Southern California - not a nun from some hut in Uganda. Not that there tend to be a large amount of nuns hiding out in huts in Uganda or anything... Oh, and one last thing about Sam and Astrid: chemistry. Or lack of. Because I'm not getting it AT ALL.
Know who else is really bugging me character-wise? Lana. When did Lana become such an annoying character? She used to be cool... now she's barricaded herself in a hotel on a hilltop where she chain smokes and only talks to Patrick - her dog. This could be forgiven, I mean, she's had it rough... but she's also turned bitchy, nasty, selfish, and the unflattering list goes on and on. She now begrudges all those she has to heal, jesus, she only has to touch them, like it's such a huge bloody chore! It's not as if she's the only one who's had it hard - other people are having their guts eaten by giant bugs! Ick, stop with the self-pity, I liked you before.
Though, it's not all bad in the character department, it must be said. Brianna, you are now my favourite mutant. I always thought you were annoying, and I was right - you are annoying (you nicknamed yourself 'The Breeze'... like Spiderman or Cat Woman... and that's just sad
). But I forgive you because you were so awesomely kick-ass in this book and you completely showed Caine how it's done. You go girl! You go Breeze!
Now, here goes: the rant. Well, sort of. I've had chance to calm down since I first read the offensiveness. But, well, if you've read my other reviews regarding the earlier books in this series, I was majorly pissed because all the strongest characters were male, all the leaders were male, all the girls needed protecting - they were mostly little more than the love interests of the novels. But I sort of shrugged it off because the series is written by a guy who is probably just trying to cater to the reading desires of teenage boys: superheroes, villains, action scenes and hot girls. I can take that, especially seeing as there were some strong females to alleviate the blow like Brianna, Dekka and Lana; and, of course, Michael Grant
never actually stated that the girls were weak or anything like that. And then I read a certain line about half way through this book. And then I read it again. Oh dear god... that did it. I was actually liking Caine and Diana for once, I found their relationship quite touching, and then it had to be said - didn't it? - I almost choked on nothing when I read it "A girl like her could use a strong male protector". OMGWTF?! It would have even been forgivable to declare she needed a "strong protector" but the deliberate emphasis on it being male just served to make it a gender issue and... well, ouch. Wow, this was just blatantly stating the fact that the women need men to protect them. Cringe. That is not what I wanted to read at all. Then just to make it worse, Caine turned into a bully as soon as he was asked to come back to the island. I'd never seen Caine as an evil character. I saw him as troubled and rather selfish but I was sure there would be enough humanity left to redeem him... not feeling so confident about it after he used his powers to force Diana to do what he wanted. He even went as far as to point out that, even though she'd willingly had sex with him, he could easily have forced her if she hadn't. That was another reason why it was so wonderful when Brianna swooped in and saved his sorry ass. Who's the tough one now, buddy?
My angry girl rant aside, the ending to Plague
is my favourite of the series. It's the one that has made me most want to locate the next installment asap (2012 - noooooo!). The book finished where a lot had been successfully wrapped up - good, because I don't want a year of wondering what the hell will happen to the giant bugs - but it also opened up an entirely new mystery. I think we're finally getting to the exploration of the extent of Little Pete's powers, he's the biggest mystery of the FAYZ, afterall. But the ending was interesting, mysterious, even ambiguous... I cannot wait to read Fear