by Lisa M. Stasse
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
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Alenna Shawcross hasn't seen her parents since they were dragged out of her house by government soldiers of the UNA, a new nation formed from the remnants of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. And now as a sixteen-year-old orphan, she has failed a government personality test designed to diagnose subversive tendencies.
As punishment, Alenna is banished to the wheel, a mysterious island where all the kids who fail get sent. A place where the conditions are brutal, and civil war rages between two very different tribes of teenagers.
So when Alenna meets Liam, a charismatic warrior who is planning to escape, she must find the strength to make a difficult decision: to either accept her new life on the wheel, or to embark on a journey that will uncover shocking secrets abou the UNA - and her own identity as well.
I wanted to like this book. I really, REALLY wanted to like it. Mostly for the superficial reason that it's probably got my favorite book cover ever (but no really, I LOVE this book cover) but also because I held a slightly deluded hope that this would not be a bandwagoning dystopian novel. Not to say that The Forsaken is a bandwagoning dystopian novel, but just that it really doesn't bring anything new or exciting to the table. :/
Like every dystopian novel, the protagonist, Alenna, lives in a world completely different from our own. In this case, its a world in which Mexico, Canada, and the USA have banded together to form a new nation called the UNA. In this new nation all sixteen-year-olds are given a shot that apparently tests to find out if they have any sort of potentially dangerous tendencies. Alenna gets this shot and, surprise, surprise, she fails. This sends Alenna to the wheel, a world filled with both sane and insane teenagers. Danger, intrigue, and of course, love, ensues.
The main problem I found in The Forsaken is that it pulled me in right away, but ultimately it just didn't have enough ingenuity to keep me fully invested. Teenagers getting sent to remote islands? Already been done. Teenagers fighting each other at said islands? Definitely been done. And why is it that in a dystopian world sixteen is always the magic age where adulthood happens and you make some huge life decision or you get an operation or a medical test is performed on you? I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND.
The story itself wasn't bad, just extremely overdone. If The Forsaken had come out two years ago I would have been all over this book like ants at a picnic, but the fact that it's out now sort of diminishes its shine so to speak. It has the same teenager on teenager violence that a lot of dystopians have, along with "unexpected" reveals, and of course, romance. Oh the romance.
Honestly, the romance is part of what killed it for me, because while it was not a love triangle (THANK GOD FOR THAT) it was really underdeveloped. Alenna and Liam fall in love simply because they have a "connection" when they first see each other?!?! Nope. Not buying it. NOT BUYING IT AT ALL.
I did like a few of the characters. Gadya in particular was a total BADASS and deserved much more credit than she got. Girl should not have been portrayed as a jealous bitch for most of the book. *shakes head*
Overall, The Forsaken was an okay dystopian novel. The world building was disappointing (if whether or not you like a dystopian hinges on world building I'd definitely skip this one) and the plot was nothing to write home about, but there were a few clever twists and I will admit that it was a page turner. I might not have cared too much about the characters, but I did want to find out where they were going and what was going to happen to them. If you normally enjoy dystopians I'd give it a read, but otherwise I'd probably skip it.
I'm not totally sure if I'll read the sequel yet, but it's cover is certainly screaming READ ME! READ ME!!!!
I may not be the biggest fan of these books, but damn do they have some good covers!