Plague by Michael Grant

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Gone series, Book 4. Egmont, 2011. ISBN 9781405256575.
(Age 14+) The fourth instalment of the thrilling Gone series, Plague brings a new element to the FAYZ where it has been eight months since all the adults disappeared. The Darkness has managed to take over its Nemesis and a killer plague is spreading over the land. Lana can't cure this and the metallic bugs that grow inside flesh, eating their way out, are also proving almost impossible to kill. Water is running very short at Perdido Beach and Sam, with his trusty cohort of Dekka and Jack, set out to a big lake a distance away in the hope of finding a better place for the little colony to live. These are desperate time and terrible decisions must be made to save those children left in the frightening colony.
Plague takes this series well into the horror genre. The back cover warns that the book 'contains scenes of cruelty and some violence', and the descriptions of the flesh eating bugs are truly horrific as are some of the murder scenes and the evil Drake continues to ferociously and gleefully wield his whip arm. And the scenes of children coughing up their lungs and splattering walls and bystanders are ones I want to forget! This is not for the faint-hearted - the fast paced action driven story reels from one dire situation to another, with scenes that would make a terrific movie.
There is some character development. Sam takes a central role once again in this book, realising that he does have to use his leadership skills to keep those he loves alive and Jack proves that he can be a hero as well as a computer nerd. The introduction of Toto, a kid whose powers allow him to tell whether someone is telling the truth, allows for some slight humour in the dialogue and also proves to be a trial for Caine. The dual Drake and Brianna continue to horrify and the Darkness/gaiaphage starts to gain a bit for meaning for the reader. Astrid, too, can no longer be the bystander while others make awful decisions and she is faced with the reality of what Little Pete is doing to the colony. Diana is faced with an awful predicament as a result of her relationship with Caine, who has decided visions of grandeur.
Usually three books in a series is more than enough for me, unless a new main character is introduced in each book as Alyxandra Harvey does in her Blood Feud series, but I know that I will have to read the final two books. In fact, I can't even imagine how Grant will get his characters out of the FAYZ and back to reality, if in fact he does!
Pat Pledger