Gone Dark

S. & S./McElderry. Apr. 2022. 448p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534466319.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Zara Ross seems like a typical teenager. She loves her friends, computer science class, and online gaming. Except Zara isn’t typical—she grew up on a survivalist compound with an abusive father until she and her mom escaped when Zara was 11. While Zara objectively knows what she experienced at the compound was abuse and has been in therapy for it, she doesn’t view her survivalist training as negative and thinks her father prepared her well for any future emergences. When random power outages occur, Zara suspects it’s a test for an attack on the nation’s power grid. No one believes her until it happens. With power out in the entire country, Zara uses her training and sets out with her friends to return to her father’s compound on the other side of the country. Panitch creates a shockingly bleak and realistic world without power, which some readers may find distressing and depressing. Readers may feel sympathy for Zara but find her lack of empathy tough to connect with. Due to this, some teens may also be put off by the first-person narration. While the journey throughout the story is interesting and suspenseful, the abrupt and predictable ending may leave some readers wanting more. Those new to the genre may prefer more optimistic stories like April Henry’s Playing with Fire.
VERDICT Recommend to readers who are established fans of the survival genre.

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