Book Review: Villain by Michael Grant

“People could be amazingly blind to what was right in front of their faces.”

(“Villain”, chapter 8, page 84)

A year ago, almost to the day, I posted my review of Monster by Michael Grant, the long-awaited continuation of the GONE series that originally released in June 2008. Ten years later, readers like me are still caught in the FAYZ and soaking up every word of Villain, the latest installation in this gripping series.


Shade Darby was there the day the Perdido Beach dome came down. She witnessed the horror that was Gaia, the monster of the FAYZ as well as the death of her mother. When the alien virus-infected rock crashed into the earth, Shade was there to retrieve a piece. Along with her friends Cruz and Malik, she’s ingested a portion of the rock and now they’re part of the Rockborn and able to morph into something more, beings of incredible power. Unfortunately, Shade and friends aren’t the only ones that are Rockborn, and some of the others are using their morphs for more evil agendas.

Villain brings back previous foes, from Knightmare to Peaks, Vu, and the sadistic Drake Merwin—Whip Hand. Adding to the mix is a new villain, Dillon Poe. When morphed as the Charmer, Dillon is unstoppable. His ability to command anyone to do anything with just his words makes him a dangerous, deadly villain. Add to it his lust for power and our heroes have their hands full.

Also returning for Villain are GONE series fan favorite Dekka and brief but critical appearances by Sam and Astrid. Personally, I love the new dynamic that’s developed between Dekka and Armo as well as Dekka and Shade. Author Grant also gives us a new hero in the form of Francis, a young girl who can walk through any solid object and who also possesses a very special trait that may be key when it comes to the final take-down of the Watchers.

Villain took me on a heart-stopping ride, twisting my insides and pushing all the buttons. There are brutal moments, turns, and Chapter 30 that even brought a tear + a very loud “hell yeah!”

“‘What are we going to do? Cruz repeated. She shrugged. ‘I guess we’re going to try and save the world.’”

The GONE series has never shied away from harsh, gory, terrifying imagery and Michael Grant certainly paints a picture. There are scenes in Villain that may be difficult to read, but it’s well done and a complete page-turner.

It’s no secret I am a long-time fan and faithful reader of Michael Grant and the GONE series ranks in my top all-time favorites. For me, Villain continued to deliver the story, characters, and thrills I’ve come to expect and love from this author and series.

If you’ve not stepped into the FAYZ yet, pick up book one: GONE and dive right in. Read ‘em all and be sure to grab a copy of Villain.




Book Review: Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

“But she has learned something about fear: you must always listen to it, but you need not give in to it.”

Rainy Schulterman, Purple Hearts, chapter 3, page 41

You can’t read Purple Hearts by Michael Grant and not feel anything. You can’t finish this book and not feel something. Likely you’ll run the gauntlet of feelings—horror, revulsion, admiration, anger, and yes, even joy. Because despite the heavy subject matter, at heart, it’s a story of three young women and Grant did a masterful job weaving it all together.

NewPurpleHeartsThis is the third book in Grant’s Front Lines series featuring Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. They are soldier girls of World War II in this unique series that combines actual history with a ‘what if?’—what if women were allowed to enlist and were drafted to serve on the front lines during the second World War.

What if these young women kicked ass alongside the men regardless of race, gender, and religion? A female, koummya-carrying platoon sergeant, why not? A female black medic, why not? A female Jewish intelligence agent, why not?

As Purple Hearts opens with D-Day, our three soldier girls most definitely are no longer the young recruits originally introduced in book one. They are war veterans. Soldiers.

They’ve seen the unimaginable, done the unthinkable, and are still standing despite injuries, imprisonment, and the nightmares of war that can never be forgotten. This book takes the reader from D-Day through the end of World War II (and beyond) including their first-hand experiences at the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Like the other two books in the Front Lines series, Purple Hearts is not for the squeamish. It’s brutal, graphic, and immersive. It’s also imaginative, hopeful, and filled with moments that I enjoyed.

Damn, I like these Soldier Girls and I am a bit sorry their story concluded.

The ending of Purple Hearts made me smile, chuckle, and yes, there were some tears. I thought it was a beautiful tribute to these amazing characters we’ve grown to love over the course of three books. Rio, Frangie, and Rainy—I love them for different reasons, but each found a place in my heart and I’ll happily add these young women to my list of favorite fictional characters I’d like to have a drink with.

For more about the author Michael Grant, check out his page at HarperCollins.


FrontLines trio

My Silver Stars review (book 2).

My Front Lines review (book 1).

Book Review: “Monster” by Michael Grant

“Writers—even unpublished ones—loved characters, and Shade Darby was definitely a character.”

(Chapter 3, Monster by Michael Grant)

As a reader, there is a delicious pleasure when you finally hold in your hand a book that’s been long awaited. “Monster” by Michael Grant is the one book release of 2017 that I most anticipated — anxiously checking the calendar and mentally counting down the days.

And it didn’t disappoint.


I read “Monster” in less than 24 hours because I had to know, not only how this particular story would end, but I needed to have a glimpse into where Grant might be taking readers as he continues to weave the threads that all began with “Gone”.

“Monster” is Book 7 in the “Gone” series by author Michael Grant. Its story picks up four years after the dome comes down in “Light”. Do you absolutely need to read the first six books before picking up “Monster”? Eh — not exactly, but you really should. And it’s worth it. You want to read the whole series and get a real feel for characters, the horror of the FAYZ, and why this aftermath is a story that also must be told.

Fans of the “Gone” series will enjoy a few familiar names, both hero and villain, as the story of “Monster” unfolds. We get to see what Dekka is doing four years later and how she’s survived, there’s a surprising moment with Diana, a bit of info on Taylor, and then there is Drake. Yes, Drake is back and he’s every bit as evil as he ever was—maybe more.

In addition to the familiar names, readers meet Shade Darby, Cruz, and Malik. I liked this trio. A lot. Shade’s smart, resourceful, and despite being extremely obsessive, she’s also kind. Cruz is very likable and I can’t wait to see how she continues to develop as the story evolves further, but she’s got an inner strength and courage that I admire. Then there’s Malik. Love can get you killed, but I’m not sure yet if that makes a difference to him or not.

There’s also Armo, who teams up with Dekka and an artist named Justin, a.k.a. Knightmare. Author Grant throws in power-hungry military commanders, secret government laboratories (filled with unspeakable horrors), and yes, there is a monster. I’m not going to give spoilers because I want you to read the book and experience it. Trust me.

One of my favorite things about the “Gone” series and the author’s style of writing is the action sequences. As you read, it’s like a high-intensity blockbuster, action-movie playing out in your head. If you’re a fan of action movies like Pacific Rim, Transformers, or X-Men—you’ll enjoy this type of book.

There’s a good balance in “Monster” between the intense action, tech, and character development. And then there is Chapter 18: Going Home. It gave me all the feels. All.The.Feels. Beautifully written and another level of closure from the original story.

So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I recommend “Monster” by Michael Grant. If you haven’t read the first six books in the “Gone” series read those first and then definitely read “Monster.” You can find it here. According to the “Gone” Wiki, the next book (#8) is “Villain” and #9 is “Hero”. As soon as I find release dates, I’ll be sure to share.

5 Months to MONSTER by Michael Grant

One of my all-time favorite YA series is GONE by Michael Grant. I can’t actually remember when I read the first book, but it was before the second one came out, so fairly early after its release. It was the first book by Grant that I had read and after the first chapter, I was hooked. I had been looking for something different and GONE delivered.

Gone books

Since then, I’ve read and reread the full series about six or seven times because not only do I find the story interesting and yet disturbing — it’s all about the characters for me. Astrid, Sam, Edilio, Lana, Caine, Diana, little Pete, Orc, and the list goes on. While LIGHT concludes the series and ties up the story perfectly (if not bloodily) well, I was very excited to hear yesterday that MONSTER will release in October 2017, a book giving us GONE fans a bit more about what happens after LIGHT.

Below is the video of author Michael Grant reading from his soon-to-be-released book MONSTER. Please check it out and if you haven’t read the GONE series, now is the perfect time to start — you’ve plenty of time to get the series read before October.



So watch the video below and then go get GONE and read.



Here’s the link for the GONE series:

Book Review: Silver Stars by Michael Grant

Author Michael Grant takes us back to the Front Lines with Silver Stars, the second novel in this gripping series. It’s the summer of 1943, World War II like you’ve never see it. Silver Stars, a Front Lines novel drops readers into an alternative reality where young women fight fiercely, side-by-side with men, on the front lines as foot soldiers, spies, and medics.


From the inside flap of Silver Stars: “The women are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers — they are soldiers.”

While Silver Stars is a book about war, including the gritty, bloody, and horrific scenes of battle and death. It’s really the story of three young women soldiers: Rio, Rainy, and Frangie. Somewhere about three-fourths of the way through book one, these women became real for me, I became invested in their stories. Silvers Stars gave me deeper insight into each of them and they continue to amaze me.

In brief, Rio is our soldier on the front lines of battles, fighting for her life and the lives of the men and women in her platoon. And she knows what it’s like to kill. Rio’s evolution from Front Lines into Silver Stars and through to the conclusion of Silver Stars is worth reading just on its own, but you’ll also want to get to know Rainy and Frangie more.

Rainy has brains and is tougher than even she knew she was. A Sergeant, Rainy has a gift for languages and a father who runs numbers for a crime boss. Her work in intelligence and her father’s association lands her an assignment that puts her behind enemy lines. Rainy’s story is compelling and terrifying — but as a reader, you always admire her resolve and courage.

From her first chapter, Frangie conquers her own demons to push through and do her job as a medic regardless of fears. She’s fierce, smart, and determined. And she’s compassionate. Silver Stars takes us in a bit closer to Frangie’s personal life with a look at her older brother and his politics, and how it affects her. This was maybe my favorite part of Frangie’s story.

All three women face prejudice for the simple fact that they are female, and Frangie must also deal with unrelenting racism because of the color of her skin. Their battles are so much more than just dodging enemy fire; their enemies often are the males wearing the same uniform they wear.

Silver Stars is one of those books that I can and will reread because there’s so much to absorb and it’s simply that well written. I highly recommend reading Front Lines and then grabbing a copy of Silver Stars. You won’t regret it. It’s not your average YA and it’s by far one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Find Silver Stars and other Michael Grant books here:

Definitely check this out as well! There’s history, videos, maps, character bios, and all sorts of cool stuff.

Book Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

Front Lines by Michael Grant is a powerful, immersive read that presents an alternate version of history and asks as well as answers the question: what if women served on the front lines during World War II? Girl soldiers — teenagers barely out of high school (and some not even) fighting at the front, working as medics, and even training as intelligence operatives. These are the girls, the woman of Front Lines.

z Front Lines

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy. I can’t get these girls out of my mind. Each fighting for their own reasons and each facing such deep prejudice, not only for their gender but for their age, skin color, and heritage. While each is from a different area of the country with diverse backgrounds, these young women have something in common — a dream of a better life.

I’ve watched a lot of war movies and have visited different museums with war exhibits (if you’re ever in the Chicago suburbs be sure to visit the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park). Author Michael Grant did an excellent job of re-imagining history while weaving actual events and historical details into his fictional work. Front Lines made me feel as if I had dropped into the foxhole with Rio. I was there with her. But more than that, I knew where she came from because Grant takes his reader on the full journey, from enlistment to basic training and passage across the ocean on the Queen Mary.

Tip: When you’re done reading the book, be sure to check out the Author’s Notes at the end. Interesting and good stuff there.

I admit I started this book a few weeks ago but set it aside to finish an ARC of another book and was sidetracked with work stuff. However, when I resumed reading it this weekend, I couldn’t put it down. What a book to read on Memorial Day weekend! At times it made me laugh and at times it made me angry. It also brought a few tears to my eyes. Most of all, Front Lines made me think and that’s why I really loved this book.

You don’t have to be a World War II or war story lover to enjoy Front Lines. While there’s plenty of action, some of it violent (it is war), Front Lines is a story with strong characters. Unforgettable characters. I can’t wait to read the next book and see what happens with Rio, Frangie, and Rainy and how not only the war will change them, but how they will change the war.

If you’ve not read Michael Grant’s “Gone” series, I highly recommend it as well. It’s one of my all-time favorites. You can check it out here along with his other work.