For What It's Worth

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Review: Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch

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.
  ~Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:

This was a solid post apocalypse/road trip story. Worthy (topic wise) of the Dry comparisons.

Zara realizes something is majorly wrong when the lights start going out across the US. After living years off the grid with her paranoid, survivalist, doomsday dad, she knows it's time to gather supplies and hatch a plan. 

Although Zara and her mom escaped her dad's compound, his training was drilled into her at an early age and she tries to rally her friends and mom but they view this as a blip that will all get worked out in a few days and brush her off as overreacting.

Of course Zara is right and and she embarks on a road trip with her neighbor (and crush) Gabe to look for his family that were taken by a very scary group, find her mom and eventually make it back to the safety of her fathers compound, knowing they will have a better chance of survival there. 



🗡Bad things happen. VERY bad things. Survivors will be survivors - both good and bad. Things go downhill pretty fast as people jockey for position and water. The characters suffer great personal loss and have to somehow find the will to carry on and survive. 

💪 Zara is a strong yet vulnerable character. She is tough and adapts on the fly. Her father routinely took her out in the woods for survival training and would not tolerate weakness. At. All. Tears wasted water. She makes really tough calls over and over. Repeatedly having to decide if the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. She lives in a world of morally gray decisions - decisions you may not agree with or might even be horrified by. 

Her father's training drilled into her not to rely on others, always cut them lose and think only of yourself but she starts to let others in more and it's something she struggles deeply with throughout the story.

I really liked her. She's badass and could be cold but slowly let herself be cared for and saw that being part of a team was a strength not a weakness. 

😍 There's a smidge of romance with her best friends brother - Gabe. She's always liked him so it didn't feel like it came out of nowhere. It was fairly subtle since there's all this surviving stuff to do. And I liked Gabe. Zara's ruthless pragmatism bothered him at first but he toughened up - while softening her a bit - and completely respected her expertise when it came to the groups survival.

👦👧👨👩 Loved the whole patched together group and found family. They are all wary of each at first, come from different backgrounds but are a group that I would like to have with me in that situation. 

😐 Throughout the book Zara flashes back to memories of her time with her father at the compound and clearly she remembers him more fondly than what actually occurred. I loved the internal conflict of her trying to live up to her dad's expectations and still loving him while slowly piecing together that he's not what a normal dad should be like and his motives might not be as positive as she thought. 

There's also a subplot about a group of men chasing Zara that was interesting trying to figure out just who they were or why this was happening.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book but I wasn't thrilled with how the resolution of those last two things turned out. It wasn't bad, exactly, it's just that there was a lot of build up, especially regarding her dad and that part happened so quickly and then it was done. The end is a definite end but is it??? lol

The survivalist aspect and Zara's growth were awesome but the father/daughter story could have been a psychological thriller all on it's own or meshed a little better IMO. I still give it 👍👍 though. 

24 comments:

  1. I don't read YA much anymore but this one is ticking quite a few of my boxes. Just might have to check it out. ;)

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    1. It was a little different and not entirely predictable so I liked it despite a few quibbles.

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  2. Ohh look, I am early! Not first, but early ;)
    I recently read one too where I felt the build up did not come through a much as it should have

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    1. I miss seeing you first (& catching my mistakes)!! lol Yeah - a certain aspect of this could have been it's own book - or maybe it will be if there's a sequel.

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  3. This sounds like such a fun book. Id love to read this sometime.

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    1. Dystopian/apocalypse books aren't really my thing but this was a fun one and worthy of the Dry comparison (one that I did love). Zara was a very complicated character.

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  4. "tears wasted water" - that's funny. I could almost hear my dad saying that. Glad this was a good one for you.

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    1. I'm pretty sure my father might have said that too lol

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  5. I actually really enjoyed this book too. It was one of my most anticipated of 2022.

    Ash @ Essentially Ash

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    1. That's great! I didn't read a lot of books like this but I loved Dry and the comparison made me give it a shot.

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  6. Oh this sounds interesting and stressful! I think survivor stories stress me out in general because I know I'd roll over and just perish.

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    1. Oh yeah, me too. Kevin would be great but I don't have that in me. After a day or so I'd give up lol

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  7. I love these cross the country because everything is $%^&*$ now lol. types of stories! I sometimes wonder how bad it would get if the grid did go down. Short answer is... probably pretty bad! Haven't read one of these in a while. I do like the sound of the father/ daughter dynamic and the cross country trek.

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    1. It was a solid everything has gone to shit, road trip book lol

      Judging by how covid went, I'm guessing a power grid failure would be a mess lol

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    2. Oh my gosh We can't take anything worse lolol

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    3. I think we've shown our true colors with this so I really, really, really hope nothing like this happens lol

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  8. I'd seen absolutely nothing about this book but it certainly sounds interesting. I like there's a more legit reason for the world to descend into chaos than like a zombie apocalypse. And there's a legit reason why a teenager seems to able to survive as she escaped from a survivalist compound and now must use those skills to survive.

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    1. Yes! Her skill set (& everyone else's lack of) made perfect sense to the story.

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  9. This hits too close to home LOL. I read plenty of dark books, but the road trip in hell mostly works for me if there's a supernatural angle these days. Then again, glad it was mostly well done.

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    1. Right? These "the world descends into chaos" stories always seemed a bit far fetched but reality has proven stranger than fiction.

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  10. This sounds interesting - and definitely different from what I usually read. Sounds like more should have been made of the men giving chase... or leave it out if it not's really going to be impactful. Glad this was so good overall!

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    1. It's not what I typically read either. The men/father aspect was explained well and kind of integral to the plot but I felt like it needed more development over the survival aspect. But then it would have been too long a book lol

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  11. it has me wondering how she and her friends were received once they reached her fathers compound.

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    1. Excellent observation lol That could have been it's own full length book!

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