Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch #bookreview #YA #survivalist #adventure

Dry meets Hatchet in this thrilling tale of survival following a teen girl who must lead her friends across country to the safety of her estranged father’s survivalist compound after a mass power failure leaves the country in chaos.

When seventeen-year-old Zara escaped her father’s backwoods survivalist compound five years ago, she traded crossbows and skinning hides for electricity and video games…and tried to forget the tragedy that drove her away.

Until a malware attack on the United States electrical grids cuts off the entire country’s power.

In the wake of the disaster and the chaos that ensues, Zara is forced to call upon skills she thought she’d never use again—and her best bet to survive is to go back to the home she left behind. Drawing upon a resilience she didn’t know she had, Zara leads a growing group of friends on an epic journey across a crumbling country back to her father’s compound, where their only hope for salvation lies.

But with every step she takes, Zara wonders if she truly has what it takes to face her father and the secrets of her past, or if she’d be better off hiding in the dark. 

I’m always tempted by a good survivalist story, and I’ve picked up tips from every book I’ve read. With today’s world, you never know when they might come in handy.

Zara spent roughly the first eleven years of her life being raised in a survival compound consisting of only herself and her parents. Her paranoid father taught her valuable skills to keep her alive in case of a disaster, but also not to trust anyone and to think only of herself in order to survive. After a horrible tragedy, Zara’s mother flees across the country with her, leaving her father behind. Being raised in such a different environment makes interacting with other teens difficult, but Zara finds supportive friends in Stella and her brother Gabe.

Zara picks up on signs of the catastrophe her father always predicted, and soon the world is in chaos. With no power and limited food and water, she knows most of the population won’t survive, so she and her friends begin a journey across the country to her father’s compound, picking up others along the way. Zara’s character arc is well-crafted and probably my favorite part of the story. Throughout the novel she hears her father’s voice in her head repeating the rules she was taught – to think only of herself. She soon learns that although she can’t trust everyone she comes across, putting faith in those she cares about increases their chances of survival.

When society begins to break down, it comes with some tense, heartbreaking scenes that may be tough for some readers. It’s scary how quickly humanity is tossed out the window. Although the first part of the story kept me gripping the pages, it slows to a lull about halfway through before picking up again. One of the plot threads confounded me. Zara continues to make an assumption that seemed illogical to me, and I wanted her to slow down and ask herself why it was happening. It’s explained by the end, but fits awkwardly into the overall story.

With plenty of harrowing situations, a bit of romance, and a heavy dose of coming of age, Gone Dark will appeal to post-apocalyptic fans yearning for a danger-filled survival story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

12 thoughts on “Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch #bookreview #YA #survivalist #adventure

    1. It sure kept my head in the pages, Priscilla. I was so frustrated with Zara, but part of it was due to her paranoia. There was just nothing to support it her assumption.

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    1. Same here, Mae. This has a few tough scenes, but you have to expect that with survivalist stories. I liked that Zara already had the background of growing up in a prepper compound.

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  1. This sound intense and very good. I like to think I’m picking up tips from post-apocalyptic survival stories too. You never know which author is going to predict correctly, right? Excellent review, Teri!

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    1. The author did a wonderful job at portraying realistic emotions if something like this happened, Jan – those who’d expected it, others waiting for “someone” to take care of things, and the horrible folks who take advantage of the situation. Scary when you think about it.

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