Title: The Forsaken
*Series: The Forsaken #1
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Hardcover; 375
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy dystopian stories and are okay with some violence.
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A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.
As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
After finishing The Forsaken, days later I am still thinking about that story. I always consider that a good thing. If a book causes me to remember it well after I finish it, that means it made a pretty significant impact. Still, my thoughts on Alenna's story are very jumbled, and slightly torn. This book feels a lot like many of the other dystopian novels out there right now. In fact, it is almost like a mix of a few of them. A hybrid if you will. Not a bad thing, just not anything that really wowed me. I'll do my best to explain.
On the one hand, I really did enjoy the world that Lisa M. Stasse builds for her characters to inhabit. The U.N.A. is a sinister government. One that has no qualms with reducing its people to numbers. To them, people are meant to be controlled. Kept in line. I liked this! I suppose it's because I can actually see this happening at some point, but for me it is pretty terrifying. "The Wheel" was also a nice touch. A lush area with so much beauty, and yet so much possibility for violence.
The first thing that I found a tough about The Forsaken was the fact that I didn't fall in love with any of the characters. Alenna as okay. I liked her back story, and I did appreciate the fact that she was so positive despite everything that she had been through. However I just didn't really feel that much emotion for her either way when it came to surviving. In fact, when the story picked up and things started happening to her, I just kept feeling like I wasn't invested in Alenna's story at all.
Couple this with the fact that there are portions of this book that move slowly, and you can see why I feel so torn. I was struggling to latch on to something. I really wanted to feel emotion for the characters in the book, but I couldn't find a foothold. By the time I reached the end of the story, I finally felt like I had uncovered something to keep me coming back. The U.N.A. is sinister all right, and their ultimate plan for these kids is just awful. Once I knew that, I knew I'd be back for more, no matter what.
Let's be honest. I didn't love The Forsaken, but I did like it. Especially after I read the ending. As a reader, I am extremely character driven. So I know that the majority of the reason this book failed to hook me is because I just didn't feel invested. The story line is solid. There are plenty of reasons to hate the government in this story. Overall it just fell in the middle of the spectrum for me. I definitely suggest you give it a shot! If you are a fan of dystopian especially, this might sate your need for a new read!
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.