By Michael Grant
Published by Egmont
Six months ago, something dreadful happened in the small coastal Californian town of Perdido Beach. An impenetrable dome-shaped force field settled over the area, and everyone above the age of 15 vanished into thin air.
All the town's children and young teenagers were left behind to fend for themselves - cut off from the outside world, they formed a society to help them survive.
As some of the youngsters began to develop strange super powers, the new society spilt down the middle, with one gang, based at the posh Coates Academy, clashing with the other Perdido Beach children.
Teenager Sam Temple became the reluctant leader of the Beach youngsters as terrible struggles ensued.
Michael Grant's novels Gone and Hunger chronicle the events in Perdido Beach during the first six months of the youngsters' new existence. It was a violent and frightening time. In Lies, the third book in Grant's exciting series, the chaos and horror gets worse, and Sam has to hang on to the tiny shreds of hope he has for safety and salvation.
The food situation has been resolved - though far from satisfactory, at least children are no longer dying from hunger. But new opposing factions continue to break out in the town, with gangs of thugs taking advantage of the fear and instability that exists.
The newly formed town council, led by Sam, is struggling to be effective; and when he decides to keep important facts from other council members, further tensions arise.
Much of the action, violence and suspense in Lies comes from the expert characterisation that Grant built up in the first two novels and continues to strengthen in the third. The two lead characters, Sam and Astrid, are the "good guys", but there are times when even they begin to crack. Sam's supporters are well drawn, as are the baddies.
Lies is not for the faint-hearted. The whole atmosphere is chilling and dark; these are children, innocents, left behind in Perdido Beach, yet like the stranded youngsters in Lord of the Flies, some of them become monsters.
The action in Lies never lets up and some of it is unsettling. At night, the solitary figure of a dead boy starts to roam the streets, and Sam sees the person he fears most in the whole world. Sam also knows that he must tell further lies - in keeping with the title - to stop Perdido Beach from utterly destroying itself.
Grant handles the epic scope of this novel with cool expertise. The supernatural elements of the story are there in the background, but it's his large cast of characters that help to keep the action moving. Grant also ensures Lies remains totally believable and keeps the reader gripped throughout.
After three books, readers will now be totally drawn into the desperate struggles going on under the dome at Perdido Beach; even though the town is a terrifying place, we are reluctant to leave Sam and the others after the 400-plus blood-pumping pages of this third instalment.
If you enjoy stories that take you on a white-knuckle ride and have yet to read about Perdido Beach, you don't know what you're missing.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.comcom