Pros: good pacing, lots of action and plot twists, interesting and realistic (if sometimes infuriating) characters
Cons: I wanted the kids to do the smart thing - rather than the right thing; because a lot of the actions taken are adult, I kept picturing the kids as being at least 16 when the protagonists were actually 14
For Parents: good for reluctant and/or weaker readers, no sexual content but a fair bit of violence and some racial slurs
It's school as usual for Sam until the teacher disappears. It doesn't take the kids long to discover that everyone in Perdido Beach over 15 is gone. There is now a barrier they can't cross enclosing a 20 mile radius and powerful bullies are setting themselves up in positions of power.
And some of the kids are acknowledging they have strange abilities.
Gone has an excellent mix of characters. There are bullies who manipulate with words and others who use violence. There are decent people who want someone in charge who will keep order, who don't want to be the one in charge. There are cowards and heroes, kids who are responsible, kids who are victims. I thoroughly hated a few of them, particularly Quinn and his use of racial slurs.
It was easy to forget that the protagonists were all 14 or under. While there was one real psychopath in the book, most of the kids were adverse to killing - even when it was in their best interest (I find it frustrating when characters in books don't get their comeuppance. In life I'd never urge a 14 year old to kill another kid, but in a book you want to good guys to win and the bad guys to die, not come back in the next book to make things hard for the good guys again. On the other hand, it's a better message for kids that they shouldn't kill, so the author did the right thing).
The pacing was great. For a 550 page book, it's a quick read. There are numerous plot twists and the cause of the disappearance is explained in a rational manner.
Great for adults who want a quick, entertaining read, or kids who want a good story. There is some violence but I don't remember any swearing and there's no sexual content.