Plague is the fourth installment in the Gone series by Michael Grant. It will be released on April the 5th 2011. I received an early review copy from the Australian publisher Hardie Grant Egmont and let me just begin by saying: Thank You! Thank you! Thank you, Jenny! You made my life complete.After reading the previous three books of the series one after another at the time when Lies was published in 2010, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on and read Plague (or rather the rest of the series. If Plague was money, locked away in a safe at a bank, you would need to immediately lock me up because no way would you be able to stop me from getting my hands on it.). I fell in love with the series from the beginning. Each of the characters were believable and whether they had a good or evil outlook on life or presence in their society (the FAYZ), you still felt their journey: their struggles, achievements, downfalls, conflicts and everything else any human being on Earth faces in their lifetime. It is one thing to read about a character, but it is another thing to know the character, inside out. This is where Michael Grant should be praised. I just feel really happy that I had met him back in November at Borders South Yarra where he was signing for his ANZ tour. Also I’m glad I have a photo to look back on.Now I’ll try not to go into details about the plot of Plague and try to not spoil anything considering it is the fourth installment in the series, but it is really, really difficult to control myself from gushing about how much I loved and enjoyed it. First I just want to warn you: If you haven’t read the first three then I highly recommend that you do. You won’t regret it. It is time well spent. Continue reading at your own risk though. Okay! In Gone, everyone over the age of 15 disappears. In Hunger, food begins to run out and the thirst for power emerges. In Lies, manipulation becomes a tool and sides are taken based on physicality. In Plague, we see the situation of the surviving children in the FAYZ become incredibly dire. It is not just food this time, but water supplies are running low, and the search begins for drinkable water. In addition to these conditions they have to try to survive in, there is a few other unsuspecting problems they have to deal with. One of them is the (taken from the synopsis) disease [that] is spreading through the streets of Perdido Beach: a devastating, hacking cough that makes the sufferers choke their guts up – literally. The other: is Drake.The array of characters is the driving force in this series and without a cast such as that of Michael’s imaginings, I highly doubt it’d be anything special. To be frank, nothing would happen. In Plague, Michael Grant immediately puts emphasis on the flaws that few of the characters have and the obstacles they have to face and deal with for the duration of the novel. What I loved was that you are thrown in the deep end immediately; into the internal & external, personal & shared conflicts and struggles that the characters are facing and will be faced with. Am I repeating myself? It sure sounds like it but it’s just because I can’t not think about and empathise for each of the characters. An example would be Sam. Within the first chapter, we take witness to his personal decisions, which sadly enough becomes an unwanted mistake. For the rest of the novel he is tortured by this single decision and he has to try and make it right again. In my eyes, this novel focuses on the human condition. That’s it! Morality plays a major part in each of the character’s thoughts, as well as belief in God, which was to me, a very surprising addition to the plot. I loved how God is viewed as two separate entities depending on which way you look at Him and your own life. Is there such a thing as God in the FAYZ when there is really only grief, devastation and so much wrong? Also happiness is touched on. I could go on and on about all these things I have hinted at but this review seems to be turning into a thesis. I must move on.Plague is still like its predecessors: a fast-paced rollercoaster packed with action and thrills, twists and turns, as well as a number of times that make you laugh, tear, think, or feel love or hate towards certain individuals. Weaved in the extensive amount of devastation, there is that highly prized and witty humor. A fun addition was Nutella. I knew about it anyway because he told us about it at his signing. But living just off Nutella? Unheard of! You’ll read about it too. However one thing was that Plague is a lot gorier and violent than the previous books.To conclude (and which could be used as an in short review): There is not one thing that is wrong with Plague. It was written to perfection and I loved it! Wait! There is one thing I don’t agree on though and that was this couple of lines about Apple Macs (yes there’s Apple promotion in the book as well). On page 210 in the Australian paperback edition or a couple pages into chapter 18, Jack says, “They ship them fully charged.” I’m sorry Jack…or Michael Grant, but my Macbook wasn’t charged at all, brand new too, straight out of the box. Obviously more specific research was needed. Oh no! I’m only kidding. Plague was awesome no matter what.I’ve begun to not like rating out of 5 or whatever, but if that’s what you want, then it is another definite 5 star book. This series is a 5 star series. Michael Grant is a 4 bar (HAHA! I just had a giggle to myself!)…5 star author. Waiting for FEAR in 2012 will be torture and hopefully the world doesn’t end because I want to know the ending of this series before it does, and that will probably end in the years after that.