The Forsaken (The Forsaken #1) by Lisa M Stasse
375 Pages (Hardcover)
July 10, 2012
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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.
Looking at the whole of the novel, I was really taken with the story and enjoyed it immensely. However, this was not my first impression, which is why I would urge you (especially those who are keen to giving up on books) to keep reading. The Forsaken is a quick, entertaining and shocking read, but the first quarter of the novel is a bit slow and seems repetitive of mainstream dystopians (specifically The Hunger Games). It needs a little bit of time to reveal itself as the original, consuming dystopian that it is.
Plot is a tricky subject with dystopians since they are so apt to twists and so easily spoiled, so here is the very basic rundown. The novel takes place in the United Northern Alliance, the corrupt combination of all of North America. Alenna's parents were taken by the police when she was a young girl and she was forced into foster care as an orphan. Years later, at sixteen, Alenna (like all sixteen year-olds) is subject to a test which determines whether or not an individual has a capacity for violence, disobedience, etc. Those who fail the test are sent to Prison Island Alpha (AKA The Wheel) for the remainder of their lives. Alenna fails the test and finds out that the island is not what she was told, and it may just hold a link to her parents.
My issue was that when Alenna first "lands" on The Wheel, the setting and action is very reminiscent of The Hunger Games. I love that series, but I don't want to read "the next" anything, I want a dystopian all its own. So at first glance, I was a bit disappointed. However, it does pick up rather quickly and become something completely original.
This novel has a romance thread, but it is not necessarily the biggest plot point. What I enjoyed about the plot, the setting really, was how shocking it was. The setting is brutal for the most part, but the religious cult aspect of it is slightly hypnotic. That sounds strange, but reading I think you'd understand. The Forsaken definitely has that "shock" factor. As in I found myself not really believing that the author would let certain things happen... so don't go in thinking any character is safe, because this author definitely has no reserves when it comes to offing. Stasse has a way of keeping the reader constantly on his/her feet. But trust me, it's a good thing.
So like I said, when you pick up this novel, give it a few chapters, because it is definitely worth the wait. Plus, that ending - I need a sequel as soon as possible.