In both the fandom and the series, one of the most controversial questions is whether Astrid is a troubled but well meaning heroine who tried desperately hard to be the good guy or a manipulative, sanctimonious Icequeen who thinks only of herself, as Sinder put it. Like when she pushed her little brother out a window was she trying to save 200 children and bring back 200 more, or was it a selfish act when she should of been there for her defenceless little brother? Or did she genuinely love and care about Sam or was she just using him as protection? Did she think telling the whole town about Mary's bulimia was so she could get her some support and help and keep the littles safe, or did she do it because she saw Mary as a threat and wanted to distract from her own faults? Debatable stuff. Expect things to get nasty whichever side you come down on.
Did Caine genuinely love Diana or was he just a manipulative dick who used her for sex? Who knows, as it's constantly being contradicted in Caine's POVS. one minute he's thinking about nothing but how beautiful and smart she is and how he wants to marry her, etc, etc, and the next he's dismissing her as a object or pawn, so to speak, with no interest in her emotions or well-being. Either way, it's riled many heated fan debates, especially after the elusiveness of Plague... Light answers this question quite overtly. It would seem, yes, he sincerely did care for and love Diana.
Was Howard manipulating Orc to get him money and protection, or did he have genuine concern and understanding for Orc?
Fear spoilers; Is Gaia the premature corpse of Caine/Diana's daughter being possessed by the soulless gaiaphage, or is she still human somewhere deep down who is simply a victim? The events of Light seem to indicate the former.
Was Mary Terrafinoeuthanized or the victim of divine intervention by the gaiaphage?
Angst? What Angst?: Deconstructed hard. While the end of Light ends on a positive note for most of the main characters. Monster reveals that many of the FAYZ survivors turned to alcohol and drugs, including Dekka, Diana, and Sam, some of them went into mental care like Lana, and others were Driven to Suicide.
Anti-Climax Boss: In Villain, Vincent Vu, someone played up as a massive threat in Monster goes down after being shot by a couple of tanks without even seeing any real action or having the protagonists confront him again
Try finding someone who's indifferent either way to Astrid Ellison.
There are only two types of people aware of Caine Soren; People who think he's a complete Jerkass and prayed he'd just drop dead in LIGHT and those who are completely obsessed with him and want his demon-babies.
Is Drake Merwin a genuinely worthwhile and threatening villain, or has he become more of a joke as the books progress? This question became the subject of much debate in the fandom, especially after the release of LIGHT. People are also annoyed at his tendency to keep cheating death, even coming Back from the Dead in Monster.
Broken Base: Whether you ship the Caine/Diana romance is purely a matter of taste. It is by far the most popular ship in the fandom, with a exceptionally large, vocal and dedicated fan-base. It is also by far the most criticized and refuted. Many argue that it's a beautifully-written, moving, complex, intriguing and ultimately tragic ship which brings out the best in both components. Others argue that it's romanticized abuse which undermines Diana's independence and strength, and that the two were simply manipulating each other start to finish.
Drake Merwin is a monstrous fourteen-year-old who managed to earn the hatred and fear of everyone in the FAYZ. A psychopath even before the series began, he was sent to Coates Academy for shooting a boy with an air rifle, and was diagnosed by staff as a sadist. A few days after all the adults disappeared, Drake essentially became a Psycho for Hire, first serving Caine Soren in his efforts to take over Perdido Beach, then switching his allegiance over to the Gaiaphage after it helped regrow his amputated arm into a whip-like weapon. Drake's many crimes include preparing to feed a daycare full of little kids and infants to mutant coyotes if they resisted him; threatening to cause a nuclear meltdown if Sam didn't allow Drake to torture him; commanding an army of mutant bugs to massacre Perdido Beach; and whipping and slave-driving a pregnant girl across a desert. Drake was also a virulent misogynist, who victim-blamed his mother for her abuse at his stepfather's hands, insults every girl who crosses his path, and expresses an intent to torture, rape and murder Astrid, Diana, and even the Gaiaphage after it stole a female body as its host. Drake's goal wasn't power, it was pain. He admitted that he tortured and murdered his fellow children because he enjoyed it, because it made him feel powerful, and he believed that despite all the diagnoses psychiatrists had tried to give him, the word that best summed him up was "evil".
Villain: Dillon Poe is a FAYZ survivor and a would-be comedian who grew envious of the fact that he never got powers. He sees an opportunity when he buys a sample of the meteorite the Gaiaphage came from off the black market and gives himself the power of a Compelling Voice. After ending up in a drunk tank, he uses his power to make an inmate he got into a fight with bite his own tongue off and then makes the guards escort him out of jail. He later goes to a casino and uses a microphone to make the patrons attack each other to entertain both himself and the Dark Watchers. After seeing the potential for conquest his power gives him, his opening act is starting a violent riot in Las Vegas, which he starts by controlling the attendees of a basketball game, gathers a few more after posting a YouTube video, and attempts to use national television when all social media is cut off. He takes a group of cheerleaders to be his personal bodyguards and harem, the latter of which disgusts one of his slaves enough to nearly break control. With Las Vegas now a war zone under his control, the military intervenes, but he manages to control the commanding officer to order a missile assault on the city. To ensure his own safety, he drenches the streets of Vegas in gasoline and has a sparky windup toy active to set his slaves on fire if anybody attacks him, which works after Peaks intervenes. His actions lead to the confirmed deaths of 409 people and thousands more left unaccounted for, all just so he can get a good laugh.
"All we have to fear is fear itself" would become pretty ironic by the release of the fifth book...
Also in the first book, when Caine ponders why his real mother gave him up, Diana guesses that she was "Just a messed up teenager" when she had him...Again, this becomes almost tragically bitter in the fifth book When Diana becomes a more than messed up teen mother herself...
Growing the Beard: PLAGUE, where the story began to have heavier consequences beyond the ever-decreasing quality of life.
Caine: (leans close to Drake and whispers in his ear) Don't start thinking you can take me down, Drake. You're useful to me. The minute I start thinking you're no longer useful... (smiles and pats Drake on the cheek.)
Drake. In Gone and Hunger, it was mostly just a couple lines he says to/about Diana, but by Plague, he's talking about Brianna enjoying nonspecific torture he's pretending she recieved from him, winking at Astrid while threatening to "come up and play" with her, and fantasizing about what a long time he'll take with Diana when he gets to her. In short, downright creepy.
The Gaiaphage. Especially when you consider that he/it is entering a little child's mind and tempting him to come and play "games" with him...
Drake crossed it when he unleashed a pack of coyotes on the daycare kids, who were no older than five.
Most Horizons didn't get crossed until after the FAYZ erected, but Penny crossed it long before when she poisoned her sister because she was jealous of the sympathy she was getting for being sexually abused by their father.
The Gaiaphage crossed it when it tricked Orsay into believing that death was a way out of the FAYZ, leading a few kids to kill themselves.
Justin (thankfully, not the Justin from the FAYZ) crossed it in Monster when he destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge.
Peaks crosses it when he gives himself powers and makes a deal with the newly revived Drake just to get revenge on Shade and Dekka for humiliating him.
No Yay: A lot of the things Drake says, particularly to Diana, fall under this. And then there's the Gaiaphage and Little Pete. Actually, the Gaiaphage and everyone.
Paranoia Fuel: Dillon Poe, the Big Bad of Villain, has a Compelling Voice. This wouldn't be such a big deal if his power didn't work exactly as well via audio signals, whether live or recorded. He gets wise to this pretty quickly, and makes every effort to get himself on social media or the news, knowing that a single viral video or well-placed phone call to a news network could put him in control of millions of people.
In Light, Brittney pretty much becomes a non-entity since Drake only reverted into her a handful of times. We don't even get to hear her dying thoughts, though you can argue that be for the better since Drake did all the suffering.
Even people that weren't in the FAYZ were affected, as shown in Monster. Shade witnessed Gaia's rampage from outside, her mother was a casualty, and she ended up getting an ugly scar from the stampede of kids escaping. She has since become paranoid about another Gaia appearing and tries to give herself powers to combat it.
The Un-Twist: One of the biggest criticisms of the series is that the cause of the FAYZ ( Little Pete feeling like he was in danger) was too predictable, which is a shame that it came in the first book, given all the other, far more engaging reveals that came later.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The series is for young adults (ages 13-17) and yet contain quite a lot of graphic violence described in full detail, some sexual situations and Troubling Unchildlike Behavior from quite a few characters (most of it induced by the premise) including Drake Merwin who is an absolute sociopath. Much like Harry Potter, the series grew with the audience and got much darker with each installment.
The 2012 Film
Complete Monster: Jim LaPointe is a Serial Killer who kidnaps women and keeps them in a pit hidden deep in the forest, photographing their struggles before murdering them. Enraged when Jill Conway wounds him and escapes, Jim kidnaps her sister, Molly, one year later, leaving her restrained to starve to death under her own home. After Jim lures Jill to his campsite, she finds photos of his victims, including her and Molly, in his tent, before Jim tricks her into approaching his pit and tries to kill her again to avenge his embarrassment at her injuring him.