by Lisa M. Stasse
Genre: Dystopian YA | Excerpt: Yes
Book Trailer: Yes
Reviewed by: Abigail | Source: Publisher
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
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.
Almost great books infuriate me. They’ll have some great things about them which only make the not great things about them all the more grievous. Such is the case with THE FORSAKEN, the first book in The Forsaken trilogy by Lisa M. Stasse. My experience reading this book was similar to my experience picking it up: the cover was a complete turn off for me, but the description was fantastic.
Let’s start with the fantastic. With more and more dystopians storming the shelves, it’s hard to find one with a truly unique world. THE FORSAKEN has that. It has flavors of 1984, and even The Divergent Trilogy, but it also brings elements all it’s own. There’s a corrupt totalitarian government, unthinkable human atrocities, swift and brutal punishments for any hint of dissension. Teenagers are forced to undergo a test that predict criminal tendencies, and if you fail, they banish you to a prison island. Beyond this world, the plot is equally intriguing as we follow a girl who gets sent to the island, gets immersed in the two rival (and on one side murderous) groups on the island, learn the island’s horrific purpose, and try to survive past the average two years.
Now for the bad. The writing is really average, and the dialog borders on cringe worthy in many places. Alenna’s emotions are almost always stated, “I feel scared, I feel sad, I feel angry.” My biggest complaint, however, was with the romance. Wow did it feel out of place. On the island, these kids die all the time in scary violent ways. Day to day survival is beyond precarious, so it made no sense that Alenna’s first friend would spend so much time warning–and threatening–her to stay away from her boyfriend. But Alenna can’t help herself. She’s constantly struck by how hot this guy is and the connection she feels even before they speak. The first time they do talk, he makes a move, and before long they are off kissing in the jungle and struggling with how they could be in love so fast and under these circumstances. Yeah, me too.
Even with the solid dystopian world and intriguing main plot, the writing and completely botched attempt at a romance nearly caused me to quit multiple times. The mystery in THE FORSAKEN is good, but there is so much that you have to wade through to get to it that I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next book in the trilogy. It’s too bad because this book was almost great.
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