Representation? On POINT. Not perfect, but then again no series or story nowadays is. But FAR more diverse than anything you’ve seen.

Racial. Sexual. Gender. Mental ability. We got black kids. We got white kids. We got Honduran, Muslim (yes I know that’s a religion not a race), Chinese, Indian, mixed, NATIVE AMERICAN, Congo, Vietnamese, we got a lot.

Gay? Hella. We have a gay guy. We have two gay guys. Lesbian? Lol. The lesbian angst is so, so real, man. Gender? I can name 5 badass girls off the top of my head right now.

Mental ability? Astrid’s a fucking genius blonde, and not only that, Gone focuses on ALL kinds of mental ability. Sam’s good at spur-of-the-moment planning. Edilio’s an administrator and he’ll crush all your racist opinions about Spanish-speaking people with his gay ass sizable administrative skills. Caine can lead, he’s got charisma, he can mesmerize you with one speech. Sanjit is witty as fuck. Albert, a small crafty kid who’s black (a clever son of a gun who opens a McDonalds and then a club) has administrative and logistic skills that are unmatched. Jack’s a computer geek. Some kids have 0 common sense. Petey is autistic, and he’s THE most important and powerful kid in the entire series. And he’s 5.

What’s even better? I’ve never ever read a book with queer representation in it. Gone has a lesbian, Dekka, who’s fucking badass and tough as nails and also happens to be black. Also, she can cancel gravity. And she’s the protagonist’s right hand girl. She’s in love with a straight girl who comes to accept her. The gay angst is real. Gone has a gay guy. But he’s not set up flamboyant or anything. He’s probably one of the most respected characters of the series. He’s an all-around good guy. And then in Book 3, it’s like.. he’s gay. Best thing? The protagonist is just like, aight. That’s cool. And he just accepts it, and that’s what we need. We need to be shown people who just accept queer sexuality. We don’t need it to always be a big deal.

Besides that? Name me ONE author you know of who characterizes better than Michael Grant. Me and one of my friends were talking about it on the bus today, and you know what I realized? We started out talking about the main core of characters and then suddenly I just remembered this other char, and this one, and those two, and those four, and you realize they are JUST as important as the rest. Each and EVERY one of those characters is singular and important in their own right. The villains get redeemed. You see the real sides of even the bad guys. There’s no pure evil other than that one green radioactive alien thing, and probably Drake.

Important issues that Gone touches on? Eating disorder. PTSD and effects of psychological trauma, accidental manslaughter, alcoholism, sexual abuse, mental disorders, autism and taboos around it, parents being unaccepting about queer sexuality, prejudice toward Spanish-speaking people, racism… the list goes ON. And all these kids deal with all these issues while also trying to survive in a world comprised entirely of immature kids with superpowers, mutating elements of nature, aaand also this insidious green radioactive thing.

I have no idea how Michael Grant does it. How he manages to wrap all those issues, represent all those ethnicities/genders/sexualities/mental abilities, create characters that all matter so uniquely, AND also write so fucking well.

If you’ve got some extra time this summer or this month, READ GONE. It’s so good. It’s so so so good. Really. Really really.

I want to make a movie about speech and debate but do it like a nature documentary.

NARRATOR: “The large gestures and colorful voices are part of the interper’s intricate mating routine.”

"Here we witness escalating aggressive maneuvers between debaters competing for dominance."

"The wild extemper is often seen scurrying to collect sources in preparation for a long, cold draw."

Forensics Asks

Prose- What was your first tournament like? 

Poetry- What were the nicest and meanest comments you’ve ever gotten on a ballot?

Duo- Would you date anyone from forensics? Your team or another?

Inform- How did you get involved in forensics?

Oration- Have you ever cheated or lied somehow? Have you ever caught someone else cheating?

Extemp- Have you ever pulled an all nighter before a tournament to prep? 

Impromptu- What is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you in front of a judge?

IDA- Who is your best friend in forensics? How did you become friends?

HI- What is your favorite forensics memory?

DI- Have you ever cried because of forensics? Why?

Congress- Do you have a forensics rival? Who and why?

Speech and Debate Asks

1. Why did you join? Why did you stay? (Alternatively, fill in the blanks: came for the _______, stayed for the _______)
2. What songs are on your tournament playlist?
3. Event that you don’t do, but would like to try?
4. In your opinion, what is the most valuable aspect of forensics?
5. Any pre-tournament rituals?
6. Do you get nervous before rounds? If so, how do you deal with it?
7. What’s your tournament fashion?
8. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
9. Relationship with your team?
10. Most embarrassing forensics memory?
11. Any inside jokes?
12. Nats or TOC?
13. NFL or NSDA?
14. Fondest memory?
15. Ever gone to camp? If so, tell us some camp stories
16. What trophy are you most proud of and why?
17. Who would you mention in a thank you speech?
18. What motivates you to compete?
19. Why do you do the events you do?
20. Advice you’d give to a novice/something you wish you’d known when you were a novice

It’s funny how when forensics folks refer “interpers” or “debaters” or “extempers,” there’s the oddly general yet vaguely specific personality that accompanies the particular event.

Sometimes, I like to imagine what it’s like in other groups, like marching band members shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Pfft, that’s a typical piccolo for you, amirite”

Interpers at tournaments with debaters