This book had a compelling premise but the author couldn't seem to really do anything really interesting with it, except continuously throw in increasingly absurd elements that push the reader's suspension of disbelief to its limit (I mean, talking animals, really?). The first half of the book is tedious and slow, and although the action picks up a lot in the second half, Gone
never quite reaches its potential. Most of his characters were poorly developed and easily forgotten, and the only one who really intrigued me was Diana. I don't really believe that so many bullies would still be so cruel in such a strange and desperate situation, and the author never really explains the motivations behind the more 'evil' characters (wanting power is too simple I think).
While Grant did try to develop back stories for most of his characters, a lot of it felt like a poor attempt to add depth to characters whom he hadn't truly developed by way of their words or actions. Mary's bulimia, for example, didn't really add much to the understanding of her character, her motivations; it just seemed like a quick way to add depth to her character without really telling the reader anything about her actual personality, and I highly suspect it was also thrown in there to make the novel seem more up-with-the-times and to appeal to a readership who can possibly identify with or just like to read about such things (after all, teen issues books about eating disorders, mental illness, etc. are quite popular these days).
The writing was mediocre at best and littered with far too many sentence fragments. Michael Grant also does not have a very solid grasp on how kids talk to each other. The dialogue did not ring true over half the time and the pacing of the book was far too slow, with a lot of unnecessary scenes, extraneous dialogue, not enough explanation and absolutely no resolution at the end of the book. It was just a mostly tedious, way-too-long disappointment. I'm still interested in the basic premise (everyone over the age of fourteen disappearing-- if someone could write this convincingly I'd definitely read it) but everything else fell flat.