Gone by Christine Kersey, e-book, 230 pages, published by Sapphire Creek Press in 2013.
Morgan is a teenager that thinks she is being treated unfairly by her parents. She also perceives them to be biased towards her younger sister, Amy. So in a huff she runs away into the woods nearby her house. It starts getting cold and Morgan gets lost, finally taking shelter in a little hut she finds among the trees. After a large storm which damages the hut, Morgan must find another way out. She follows a tunnel, which leads her right into an alternate universe, where it is illegal to be overweight, and the government enforces this rule by locking people up in fat farms. Will Morgan ever find her way home?
This novel is set in a parallel universe, where things are the same, but not the same as we know them. The main difference that Morgan finds in her new world is that the government is monitoring everyone’s weight, and it is illegal to become overweight. If this occurs, the person is forcibly taken into a weight loss facility, where they must stay in prison like conditions until they drop the weight. And they have to pay for it themselves, which has created an abundance of very poor families struggling to survive after a family member has been committed for rehabilitation. As a premise, this held a lot of promise, and I quite enjoyed the plot. It was disturbing and intriguing how much everyone was focused on diet, exercise and weight.
One thing that bothered me was what happened to the Morgan that had been living in the alternate universe? She was on a camping trip, and just disappeared, but where to and how? I kept expecting her to turn up and claim Morgan as an imposter. Maybe she was forced into Morgan’s world, which then begs the question of what’s happening back there? I’m just curious…
I found Morgan a little whiny and immature. I’m a bit appalled that she would run away at sixteen because they moved to a new house and her mum said she couldn’t have a new phone, it’s selfish to say the least. And it’s somewhat stupid to wander into a forest during winter without proper supplies or protection, especially in a location with a high likelihood of snow at that time of year. I know she’s young, but a bit of commonsense would have gone a long way to preventing her trip through the time-space continuum! I think she improved as a person whilst in the alternate universe, but not enough to protect her family. She was too proud and self righteous to back down from the nasty girl at school, despite knowing that it wasn’t a good idea. The other characters didn’t make much of an impression on me.
I think this could have been a great book. It was let down by the irritating nature of the main character, and the lack of other interesting characters. It didn’t capture my attention enough for me to seek out the second book in the series.
Gone was an easy read suitable for upper primary school and high school students. The novel is very clean, with a little superficial romance, and no foul language. It is the first book in the Parallel Trilogy.