Review: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse +Giveaway

Monday, July 21, 2014
Why I chose this book: 
I will have the extreme pleasure of attending a signing at the (amazing) Irving Public Library, which will feature Lisa M. Stasse in a discussion panel. To my shame, I have the scandalous habit of purchasing books for signings, acquiring said signature, and tossing the book into the fathomless depths of my TBR pile. All with well meaning, of course. In an effort to subvert that vicious cycle, I decided to read this book before the signing. After all, it’s a little more exciting to talk to an author after you’ve read her book and can therefore be a fanatical mumbling idiot, instead of a generic, ordinary mumbling idiot. 

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: July 10th, 2012
Format: Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
B&N || Amazon || Indiebound

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. (Goodreads)

3 things you need to know about this book:

1. Killer robots, camera, action. 
Take your basic 1984 dystopia, add a splash of Brave New World, and top it off with a remote island inhabited by demented teenagers. Oh, and did I mention there are mysterious many-tentacled flying machines snatching people up? So, there’s also that. The action in this book is fast-paced and riveting. I literally had this book glued to my hand for half a day. 

2. Here, Piggy Piggy.
Sixteen and completely shell-shocked, Alenna arrives on a pig-infested island in the midst of a perpetual turf war between two settlements: seemingly normal villagers and psychotic mask-wearing religious zealots with a taste for blood and some serious crazy eyes. Think Lord of the Flies meets 1984. The wheel is lawless, which gives way to surprising freedom as well as grotesque violence. The lack of government oppression comes with the price of savagery, which reveals the delicate balance between tyranny and freedom both on the wheel and in the UNA. The juxtaposition was thought-provoking as Alenna vacillated between terror and liberation, two utterly foreign concepts to her. 

3. You can’t handle the truth.
For two-thirds of the novel, I was wholly satisfied with the premise of dissident teenagers being thrown on an island to battle each other to the death while searching for a way off said island, all for my own entertainment. But that was ripped out from under me in the course of the last hundred pages. For once, I could not tell how a book was going to end, and I find that both elusive and thrilling. The wrap-up dragged on and was especially slow after the action-packed climax, but well worth it in the end. 

Final Thoughts: 
My only complaint with this book is that I found the love story between Alenna and Liam to be typical, lackluster, and, well, boring. Who doesn’t love a tan, spear-wielding, beautiful boy, marooned on an island riddled with disease and militants? Apparently me. But I can forgive that, because this book was so otherwise awesome that I hardly even noticed. 

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

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