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I Belong

Review: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse

Genre: YA Dystopia

Series: The Forsaken (Book 1)

Publication Date: July 10, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 375 Pages

ISBN-10: 1442432659 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1442432659 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Emmy


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.

Quick & Dirty: If Hunger Games and Divergent had a baby, this book would be it–but without the ingenuity and spark that made those novels so fantastic.

Opening Sentence: At first I think the hammering sound is the noise of waves crashing down on white sand.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

With government conspiracies, great mysteries, non-stop action, and fast pacing there’s no reason it should have taken me almost 200 pages to get into The Forsaken. I was entertained, but not invested. By the time I actually cared, it was too late. This book has so many parallels to Hunger Games and Divergent that you already know what’s going to happen, but I know there are people who love reading more of the same and if you’re one of them, you may love The Forsaken.

At the age of sixteen the government of the UNA injects some kind of brain scanning serum into all its citizens, to help root out the potential future subversives. Alenna fails this test, which isn’t much of a surprise given the way her parents were taken. Insert a little Lord of the Flies and you have The Wheel, the UNA’s solution to their subversive problem. They deposit all their would-be criminals on the remote island and let them duke it out for territory and supplies. Interesting premise, even if it’s by no means original.

Life expectancy on The Wheel is two years, so you know the island’s going to be more than a challenge. Stasse doesn’t hold back when it comes to prison life or violence–which goes well with her style of writing. There is a war on The Wheel between the Drones and what seems like a peaceful tribe. The Drones are run my a religious fanatic named the Monk, who everyone’s afraid of, but everyone who isn’t in his adoring cult knows something’s off. I like a survival story as much as the next person, so why didn’t I like this one?

My biggest problem was the romance plotline. The love triangle that didn’t need to exist dominated Alenna’s life on the Wheel. Alenna, Liam, and David didn’t need a love triangle. There was no reason for Liam to even be a romantic interest. Alenna’s interest in him was purely superficial, and because he’s hot she thinks she’s in love. There was no build-up, it was just kind of thrown in. “Oh, we have these teenagers hell-bent on surviving this horrific island, they must fall in love.” No, actually, they don’t. Hands down David, though not as swoony as his rival, is the more redeemable character of the two. But as I said, neither one of them really made sense and having the romance dominate the story really undermined how dangerous The Wheel is supposed to be.

Her writing is wonderful where her plot and characters fall short. I think that the sequel, which is getting away from the Hunger Games plotline, will be more original. As I said, if you’re a reader who doesn’t mind reading more of the same plotline, you may like The Foresaken a lot more than I did.

Notable Scene:

“You’re Alenna Shawcross.”

I recoil. “How do you know my name?”

“I heard…David say it.” He coughs. I just stare at him. “There are messages for you…on the rocks beyond the barrier….Messages from your parents.”

Right then Gadya reaches me. “Don’t get too close to him!”

I turn around. Markus is directly behind Gadya. And twenty feet behind him, I see Veidman and Meira moving up the trail.

I turn back to the drone. He opens his blackened lips again like he’s going to speak. Instead of words, a choking gasp forces its way out. A death rattle.

The Forsaken Series:

1. The Forsaken

2. The Uprising (August 6, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of The Forsaken.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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