The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse
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)
When she was just ten years old her parents were carted off by UNA soldiers and Alenna was sent to live in a government-run orphanage. Now, at sixteen, Alenna attempts to go through a personality test deemed mandatory for all citizens, but awakes to find she’s failed the test and been exiled to live on an island referred to as The Wheel.
Life on the island is a nightmare. It’s a place designated for would be criminals and the like and Alenna is frightened, shocked, and immediately concerned for her safety. The Wheel is sectioned off, almost all factions controlled by the Monk, a man with strangely devoted followers who are brutal and savage in their blind, religious admiration for him. Alenna, thankfully, is quickly pulled into another sector, a smaller group of villages being led by a young man and his girlfriend. They’ve survived the island for three years (apparently no small feat) and are constantly worried about spies and the constant barrage of attacks by the Monk’s drones.
It is here Alenna learns to be a warrior. She teams up with a fierce girl named Gadya. Gadya notices right away that Alenna is attracted to Liam, her ex-boyfriend and guuuuuurrl, that does not go over well. She issues the patented Don’t go there, bish, and Alenna vows to steer clear of Liam (guaranteeing him to now be the absolute hottest guy on her radar, right?). Except that she and Liam can’t stay away from each other; they have an undeniable something. And when the time comes to pull together a team to go on an expedition to explore the mysterious “gray area”of the island in the hopes of finding an escape, Alenna jumps at the chance, first because Liam is going and she wants to get closer to that shirtless wonder, and second, because she’s heard that her name is written on the rocks there, perhaps a message left by her parents years earlier when they were taken from her.
Man, this premise rocks. I was really, really psyched to read this book. For the most part, it was enjoyable, but I had some issues.
To begin, I couldn’t get into Alenna as a character. She wasn’t bad, she just wasn’t super-interesting. I liked that she wanted to find the message from her parents, and I liked that she was brave, but she just didn’t do it for me otherwise. She’s not unlikable, but there really in nothing notable about her. Characters like Liam and Gadya instantly outshined her, which is weird since Alenna is the main character and the voice of the story.
On Liam, this is where I struggled. He is the guy I want to crush on. His first appearance, all tan in his blue-eyed shirtless glory, and later, as I found out what a strong warrior he is, and how sweet is he is Alenna- well, it was a good start. I thought he’d be golden, but somehow, somewhere, Liam and Alenna go from attraction and skirting around the sexiness to I WILL RISK MY LIFE FOR YOU MY LOVE (and not just cuz you’re my teammmate, but because we have a strange form of instalove). I can’t explain it. I rooted for them and I really wanted them to be together, but there should have been more development and different pacing.
There were some things in the end that felt predictable as well, but overall it wasn’t a bad book. More than anything, it felt like a missed opportunity, something that could have been amazing but just missed the mark.
Crush Intensity: 2.0-3.0 I really don’t know what to say here. I’ve laid out what I liked and disliked. At the same time, I might read the sequel to see if the story gets better.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of The Forsaken!