The Journey Through the FAYZ

I just finished reading “LIGHT” by, Michael Grant. It’s the conclusion of the GONE series. I find myself seemingly overwhelmed by the impact these six books have had on me. They’re absolutely incredibly, but will leave no person unchanged should they decide to pick them up and journey through the FAYZ with the characters they’ll grow to love, hate, and fear.

I started reading the GONE series 5 years ago. My first year in college I had picked up GONE and from there I was hooked. I awaited each book release with excitement and trepidation because I knew that whatever was going to take place on those pages was going to be an emotional roller coaster. There are moments that are beautiful, moments that are terrifying, and moments where you think the situation couldn’t POSSIBLY get any worse, but you’d be wrong.

There is something different about reading through this series as opposed to other series’ that have similar themes or scenarios. The Hungers Games may be brutal, but GONE is harrowing. It’s Lord of the Flies with super powers and a lot less hope. Don’t get me wrong, there is hope throughout, but the world presented here is so bleak for so long that you almost begin to lose hope as some the characters do.

The stories of the children in these books are so powerful though. Quinn, Sam, Lana, Edilio, Caine, Diana, Brianna, Orc, etc. They are all meaningfully laid out through each of the novels. These kids go from being young, innocent teenagers to powerful, thoughtful adults, even over the course of the year and a half or so that they’re in this situation. Some kids lead, some run away. Some kids kill, some protect. Factions are built. People choose sides. Lives are lost. The whole time you’re reading through this epic war-like scenario that thought keeps springing to the forefront of your mind, “These are kids. Good God, these are kids.”

There has been talk of the series being adapted for movies or television and I hope to God they find someone who understands the darkness of the series and why that darkness matters. I hope they find a channel like AMC that will let them get away with the brutality that this content needs to work. In 50 years, The Hunger Games won’t  be in a conversational about incredible movies because they sacrificed content for a PG-13 rating. The Hunger Games was decent, but sacrificed the brutality of the books for ticket sales. At the core of a series like The Hunger Games or GONE you have to remember that the power of these characters’ journeys stems from the incredible odds they have to overcome, and yes, sometimes that means killing other children to survive.

The violence, sex, drugs, etc in the GONE series is there as a reminder. A reminder that sometimes, sometimes the world can be an incredibly dark place. The people who get up in arms about the content of these books and the situations that these kids are placed in are missing the point. You’re supposed to be horrified, just as these children are, but you’re also supposed to understand something; for every bit of darkness, there is light. There is love. There is mercy. There is friendship. The children of Perdido Beach all make their journeys along that spectrum. Some end up embracing the darkness and the evil, but some embrace the hope; the light, and that’s all that matters.

Summer Class Blog Posts

Over the Summer I was in a class where we had to do internal blog posts during the week. Here are a few of em:

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This isn’t the life you wanted is it? Was this what you had in mind when you said you needed something different? Well, it’s too late now. You’re stuck here. The man from across the street looked out of his window on the third floor. Normal neighborhood, normal house, everything was normal, and that’s what he needed. Right?

The warm, beige mug in his hand let off a little bit of steam that floated up to his nostrils, bringing him back to the present. He shifted in his stance, sipped the warm hot chocolate, and began his descent back down the stairs. His golden hair curled around his head in an unruly fashion, like the hands of partygoers at a concert.

If I don’t make the deadline today, then I don’t know what will happen. He gazed down at his old watch, resting on his wrist like a shackle, reminding him of the dues he owes and the fates that he so willingly tempts. He walks into the study of his house and sits down on his large leather chair. He almost falls into it as he sighs and looks at his computer lying open, a blank document staring him in the face.

A new setting, a new scenario. This is what was supposed to help? He set his mug down next to the device and began typing, slowly at first, with a hesitance. “This will be the day…the day that I finally get to see my family again. The day that has been sitting on my calendar, glaring at me like a reprimanded school child. This is that day, and it cannot be escaped.”

A stack of books sat on the man’s desk behind him. He turned around and quietly glared at them before slowly picking them up and running his hands down the lightly embossed spines, feeling the memories of the lives he’d created and taken haunting the pages. Now he was on his final moment, the crescendo, the climax, and he had no idea where his lives were going. He drew a blank as he thought upon what might happen to his friends and his foes, all living in their leather bindings.

Blood must be shed for the reward to be achieved. He fought with himself. ‘It doesn’t have to be that way.’ Yes, it does. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you can save him. He has to die. No way around it. He turned back around to his computer and let his fingers begin dancing their finale aboard the raised keys.

“This is the day…the day I’ve decided to win. It cannot be escaped, but…then again, destinies were made to be met. Right?”

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I guess death really does come for us all, but if that’s true, there must be a way to rout him. The elderly woman sat in her comfy chair looking around the store she was in. She surmised that it was some sort of gift shop. Children were walking around, giddily pointing at the shiny items that lined the expansive walls. She sighed to herself as she looked up at the chandeliers in the store. This is no ordinary shop.

All of the sudden she froze. No. It can’t be. It’s too soon. Death stared at her from across the shop. His cliché scythe glistened in the moonlight flooding in from the nearby window. His hood draped over his face, like it was hiding the secrets of the universe just out of reach. He was as still as a statue as he seemingly stared at the woman across the store.

She rose to her feet without a sound. The rest of the world didn’t matter at the moment. People were moving in slow motion. Nothing else mattered, but her, and her guest, staring at each other from across the room. This was a contest of wills, and she was fighting someone with unlimited patience. This will not be that day. It can’t be. There’s more I have to do.

She breaks his gaze as she walks over to the counter. “Excuse me,” she says to the man working behind the register. He looks up from his place and smiles at the woman. “How can I help you tonight?” She warily looks back at the front door. Her guest is still there. She looks back at the man working the register. “I apologize. Never mind.” She turns around again and beings walking to the entrance.

If this is going to happen, then I’m going out guns blazing. She reaches the door and hesitantly puts her hand out as she pushes lightly. The door opens and within a moment she’s on the porch with death. The staring contest is back on as they look at each other. The woman’s gaze never leaves the hollow expanse of his hood. She slowly, carefully, begins to hold her hand out to the creation in front of her. I’m ready. I have to be. I’m ending this on my own terms.

            Death reaches his hand out back to her and places a candy bar in her hands. Bewildered, she looks at her hand and back up at him. She stares at him in awe before quietly saying, “Why?”

He’s quiet for a moment before replying, “Happy Halloween ma’am. Come back and visit us again.”

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That one kid’s future was about as bright as a broken lamp in a cave. This was the general consensus of the room as they watched him slowly dip his hands back into the Play-Doh tube and pull out another “tasty morsel” of putty. Everyone knew that someday, somehow, that kid was going to go out in some hilarious way. At least, that’s what they hoped. The boy that sat in front of them was full of joy as he continued to eat the blue Play-Doh, a ecstatic smile on his face.

20 years later that boy stood on the top of a skyscraper downtown. He turned around to the people shouting at him to get off the ledge and stop what he was doing. He tightened the straps on his harness before raising his hands to the crowd of scared civilians and security guards. “It’s OK! Do not worry for me! It’s misplaced! I have studied this long and hard! I’ve put a lot of work into these wings!” He patted the angelic styled wings hanging on his back. “I’ve done this before!”

He turned back around to the air in front of him. The highest building in the city. This should be high enough. He smiled as he spread his arms out and jumped.

So many thoughts flashed in his mind as he descended. This is bliss. I’ve finally figured it out! Did I leave the garage door open? His mind ran a rampant zig-zag line of confusion and randomness. His fall continued at a steady speed before he opened his wings up to the wind beneath him and…he began to fly.

He had built the wings as a flying-squirrel suit with angel wings on it. He thought they looked cooler than just a regular gliding suit. He floated through the city’s downtown districts as a careless as a bird. His smile was just as huge as it had been that day in the school classroom with the Play-Doh.

As he neared the ground he realized he had no real way of stopping. He had no parachute or anything attached to his body. The ground sped ever closer to him as he slammed his eyes shut and whimpered. The lesson was hard learned, but important. His story was a legacy for the brave men and women that would come after him. Never test a prototype yourself. Never test a prototype yourself. Never test a prototype yourself.

SPLAT!