Friday, July 27, 2012
Me on The Forsaken
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A., Alenna learned early to blend into the background, but she can't help but stand out when she's told she's failed a very important test, the test that says she has a predisposition to brutal violence and anti-social tendencies. So, she's sent to the place all sixteen-year-olds who fail the test are sent: The Wheel, a prison island where she can only expect to live for another two years. Desperate to escape the dirty conditions and brutal way of surviving, she and the other prisoners concoct a plan to escape, not knowing the truths about the U.N.A., as well as her own life, that she's about to discover on the journey towards survival.
The Forsaken is gritty, dangerous, and ruthless. The Wheel is lethal, it will take you if you don't have the skills or the drive or the sheer force of will to want to survive. Some might cast it aside as being the same sort of dystopian young adult novel that's flooding shelves with the same sort of government that weeds out teens with violent tendencies only to have their agenda backfire when the outcasts join together, but this book stands out.
There might also be comments about the heroine Alenna, a recognizable character in the girl with a rough past who worked hard to stay invisible and under the radar only to become a pawn in the government's twisted game, but Alenna wants to stay invisible. When she goes to the Wheel, all she wants to do is stay in the background and stay alive. She doesn't take charge, she doesn't challenge those who've been their longer with outlandish talks of escaping the island. They all want to get off the island, and Alenna is just like them. The only way she stands out is because of some secrets in her past, secrets she doesn't know about until she gets to the Wheel, and then she starts scrambling to stay alive, to survive. She is constantly challenged by those around her, friend or foe, and she's forced to learn as she hovers on the edge of just surviving or making the hard decisions.
The idea of the Wheel is nothing new as well, an isolated area where the future dregs of society are left to keep the general population safe and compliant, but the Wheel itself is different. Different zones, different climates, pockets of isolation, danger everywhere, a lack of supplies. It all starts with the U.N.A., the massive super-country that one was the US, Canada, and Mexico, and their rules. Knowing what the U.N.A. is gives the book an actual sense of place compared to other dystopian novels set further into the future like Matched or Blood Red Road, when you're not sure where on Earth it's taking place.
This book will delight fans of dystopian young adult novels with its premise similar to Article 5, Legend, and The Maze Runner. Even with the similarities, with the expected and unexpected plot twists and surprising ending, there were enough unique elements on the Wheel to keep me guessing.
(I borrowed a finished copy of this book from another book review blogger.)