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A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.
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 ...
A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.
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.
THE UNITED NORTHERN ALLIANCE
SIX YEARS LATER
AS OUR BUS APPROACHES the Harka Museum of Re-education, I peer out the window at the soldiers standing out front in the sculpture gardens. The sculptures are just broken remnants, long ago smashed under combat boots. The flagpole flies our nation’s flag, an eye hovering over a globe branded with the letters UNA, the abbreviation used by everyone for the United Northern Alliance.
The driver parks on a circular driveway in front of the museum’s entrance, and I look up. Marble columns sweep fifty feet toward a pediment that still bears old scars from rebel mortar attacks.
There’s only one day left until I’m forced to take the Government Personality Profile Test—GPPT for short—which is why our class is on this field trip. The trip is meant to show us what happens to kids who fail the test.
A heavyset woman in a gray uniform stands up near the front of the bus as the door opens. It’s Ms. Baines, our Social Reconstruction teacher. She ushers our class out of the vehicle and into the hot sun. We stand on the asphalt, a diverse throng of kids. Everyone, rich or poor, orphan or not, goes through the same public school system in the UNA.
“This way, class,” Ms. Baines orders. We follow her up a wide stone staircase, toward the massive front door of the museum that beckons like a hungry mouth. Inside, it’s dark and cool.
The Harka Museum once held some of our state’s greatest works of art. Now, like most museums, it’s a shrine to our government and its leader, Minister Roland Harka. Instead of paintings, the walls display digital maps of the United Northern Alliance’s global conquests. Armies are rendered as colorful dots, and battles as pixelated cubes.
Being in this museum makes me think about our nation’s complicated history. At sixteen, I’m too young to remember what a real museum was even like. I only remember reading about them, before most books and digital media were withdrawn from circulation. That happened when I was eight, two years before my parents got taken, and just three years after the formation of the United Northern Alliance—a merger of Canada, the United States, and Mexico into one vast, chaotic nation.
From what my mom and dad told me, the citizens of those countries weren’t in favor of the alliance. But food was scarce after a global economic meltdown, and people were turning to violent crime. So the government leaders made the radical decision to create the UNA.
When angry citizens rebelled, military police used lethal force to stop the demonstrations. The demonstrations turned into riots, and then into total anarchy as people turned against their own government.
Every week our building would shake as a car bomb detonated somewhere, and I’d often fall asleep at night listening to the crack of gunfire. That was when Roland Harka, a charismatic four-star general, took office by force and appointed himself prime minster of the UNA. For life.
After that, everything changed. Minister Harka united the military by rewarding those who joined him with bribes, and imprisoning anyone who disobeyed. He imposed savage penalties for breaking laws and snatched away the freedoms everyone took for granted. All communication was restricted: no more cell phones, personal computers, or Internet access.
Anything that could encourage subversion of the government, or simply draw a crowd—like religious gatherings—was outright banned. Then the nation’s borders were permanently closed. According to Minister Harka, the entire country had to be united in isolation to achieve safety and prosperity.
He also mandated that all scientists immediately put their knowledge to use for the benefit of the government. For Minister Harka, technological supremacy became the key to conquering the globe, amassing plundered resources from other nations, and maintaining order at home.
“Move it, Alenna!” Ms. Baines suddenly snaps, breaking my reverie and shooing me along a corridor. I’m lagging behind my classmates. We’re heading toward a large display screen, thirty by fifty feet, hanging on a stone wall in the main gallery. This screen is the centerpiece of every Harka Museum. When I reach it, I jostle for position, looking up at the live digital feed.
There is a name for the place that we’re watching—Prison Island Alpha—but nobody dares say it out loud for fear it might jinx them. Some call it the Land Across the Water, or the Land Beyond. To others it is simply the Forgotten Place. I stare in fascination at the footage of stunted trees and verdant plains now flickering in front of me.
The kids who get sent to this island are the ones who fail the GPPT, a test that predicts a propensity for criminal activity years in advance. It’s administered to all high school students during the fall of their junior year, and can identify potential murderers, rapists, thieves, and psychopaths before they act on their impulses. Because of this test, crime has virtually been eliminated in the UNA.
The test isn’t something you can study for. It’s not even a test in the normal sense. No one asks you any questions. Instead a serum gets injected into your veins, and then computers scan your brain, looking for abnormalities.
The kids who are found to have aberrant personalities—ones that will lead them toward a life of crime and violence—are labeled “Unanchored Souls” by the government and shipped to the desolate prison island.
I continue to stare at the digital window into this harsh world, waiting for something to happen. On the grassy plain, between rows of crooked palm trees, stand the ruins of gigantic concrete buildings. Behind them is a massive stone spiral staircase, leading up into gray clouds that hang above the landscape.
A balding museum docent steps forward, speaking into a microphone. His reedy voice crackles to life in our government earpieces, the ones we have to wear each day from sunrise to sunset in our left ears. Sometimes the earpieces play classical music—like Wagner and Bruckner—other times, recordings of patriotic speeches delivered by Minister Harka.
We can’t control the earpieces, so I’ve learned to ignore mine. But today I’m listening. I want to hear what the docent has to say.
“When Prison Island Alpha was first populated, more than two thousand video cameras were placed inside. We thought that the island would develop its own civilization—like penal colonies have in the past. Most notably Australia in the 1800s.” The docent pauses. “Yet this never happened on Island Alpha. Instead, the savages who call it home destroyed most of our cameras. Only a few cameras remain, hidden in trees. We now rely on satellite imagery as our primary—”
“Can’t you drop more cameras in there?” a boy interrupts.
The docent shakes his head. “The inmates use the raw materials for weapons.”
“Doesn’t the island get overcrowded?” another classmate asks. It’s Melissa O’Connor, a brunette with perfect hair and teeth, courtesy of her wealthy parents.
The docent looks over at her. He has probably fielded a million random questions from students like us. I wish I could come up with one he’s never heard before, just to stump him.
“Overpopulation’s not an issue,” he explains, “because life expectancy on Island Alpha is only eighteen years of age.”
The crowd burbles.
I turn that number over in my mind. I wonder what it would feel like to have only two more years to live. My chest tightens.
I haven’t done any of the things I want to do with my life yet. I want to travel, but because of all the restrictions, I haven’t left New Providence in years. And I want to write music. I’ve been playing guitar since my dad started teaching me when I was six, and the guitar was bigger than me, but I’ve never played in public, only at home. And I haven’t even gone out on a date with a boy yet, let alone kissed one. For a sixteen-year-old, that’s pretty pathetic.
I realize for the first time what being sent to the island really means—the total annihilation of hope.
I peer back up at the image on the screen. I don’t see a single person. Just the desolate landscape, rotting under the sun. I wonder if the inhabitants are hiding.
“Can the prisoners escape?” a nearby girl asks the docent, sounding worried. “Build a boat and sail it back here?”
“Sometimes they try, but they always fail.”
“What a bunch of losers,” Melissa mutters. Her friends titter, but not me.
I guess I just feel bad for any kid who gets sent to this place, even if I know they deserve it. Maybe it’s because of what happened to my parents.
They never even received a trial. They just vanished. My dad had been a philosophy professor, and my mom had been a genetic engineer. At least before all the research facilities and universities were placed under government control. My mom quit her job because she said the UNA just wanted to use her research to develop biological weapons.
I never found out exactly why both my parents got seized when they did, although I assume it was partly because of my mom’s refusal to cooperate. I was told their old jobs had just been covers anyway, and that they’d been plotting to form a terrorist cell and assassinate government leaders.
For a long time, I was certain this was a lie. But these days I’m no longer sure what to believe. I loved my parents deeply, and I still hate the government for what they did to them. But it’s also true that the UNA succeeded in restoring order. There are no more bombs going off in buses, or people dying on the streets in rebel attacks. Perhaps accepting the inconvenience of being controlled by the government is actually the price of safety, like Minister Harka says.
Sometimes I feel angry at my parents for doing whatever it was that got them taken. They must have known I’d be stranded and sent to an orphanage if they got caught. Why would they jeopardize our family like that if they truly loved me?
I assume by now they’re probably dead, because prison conditions are harsh in the UNA. I often try to pretend that the first ten years of my life were a dream, and I was always an orphan. It’s easier that way.
I sneak a look at my classmates watching the screen. For once they look excited, probably hoping to see some on-screen violence. Usually their faces are slack with boredom, their minds dulled from taking government-prescribed thought-pills. The thought-pills are meant to increase concentration and help us do well in school, although they just seem to make most kids sleepy. They’ve never had much effect on me.
In fact, I’ve always felt slightly different from most of my classmates. This is partly because orphans with dissident parents aren’t too popular, but also because the things other kids bond over—like military parades and government war movies—just don’t interest me much. And the things that I love, like music and books, don’t seem to interest them.
“Oh my God!” Melissa yelps, startling everyone.
At the same instant, another girl shrieks, “Look!”
I stare up at the screen as a figure steps into view.
The instant I see his face, I gasp. I expected to see a menacing juvenile delinquent. Someone with a shaved head and blackened teeth, with curved talons for fingernails. Carrying a blood-spattered weapon.
Instead, I see a remarkably good-looking teenage boy staring defiantly into the camera lens. No weapon, no blood, no talons. His dark brown hair is disheveled, and his eyes are a magnetic shade of blue, set above high cheekbones. He’s lanky, but muscular. Wearing beat-up jeans but no shirt, displaying his tanned, lithe torso.
The strangest thing of all is that the more I stare at the contours of his face, the more I feel like I know this boy from somewhere. But of course that’s impossible. I instantly dismiss the feeling. He’s just a random Unanchored Soul fending for his life on a prison island, while I’m here on the mainland, on a school-sponsored field trip.
Still, I feel oddly drawn to him for some reason. His blue eyes are piercing and intelligent.
“Ew, he looks so wild,” Melissa spits. “Like an animal.” Other kids instantly chime in with comments.
“I bet he hasn’t bathed in a month!”
“Or a year!”
“He doesn’t even own a shirt. . . .”
Our earpieces begin playing classical music to calm us.
“Quiet!” Ms. Baines admonishes, but no one listens to her, least of all me. I’m still mesmerized by the boy.
He’s gesturing with his hands as his eyes remain locked on the camera. At the same time, I see his lips start moving and I realize that he’s talking. He looks intense and focused, like he’s trying to convey an important message.
I speak up, startling everyone including myself. “Can you turn the volume up?”
The docent glances over at me. “There’s no audio. We can’t risk inmates trying to corrupt innocent minds with their madness.”
“Yes, yes,” Ms. Baines seconds, glowering at me for asking an innocent question. “This boy’s probably speaking in tongues.”
“Someone should put him down like a rabid dog,” a chunky kid named Jonas mutters. He gets some murmurs of agreement.
“Stop it!” Ms. Baines snaps. She glances over at the docent sheepishly, like our class is embarrassing her. Then she turns back to us. “The island will take care of Unanchored Souls like this boy.” Her voice rises in pitch. “The island knows what to do with savage teenagers who don’t fit in!”
On-screen, the boy continues to talk and gesture fiercely. His hands dash and twirl, drawing complex figures in the air. I realize he’s trying to use sign language to communicate his message, but I still can’t understand.
It’s then that another figure emerges from a cluster of trees behind the boy.
This second figure is huge and menacing—a good head taller than the first one—and he’s wearing a long black robe. I can’t see his face clearly.
“Whoa. They’re gonna fight!” Jonas and his friends begin yammering. My heart starts beating faster.
“We can dim the screen,” the docent says, no doubt trying to protect our tender eyes. But Ms. Baines interrupts him.
“Don’t. It’s important that they see this.”
I watch as the dark figure edges closer, head down, slowly moving up behind his intended victim. The blue-eyed boy is still looking at the camera, oblivious.
“I can’t take it!” a girl cries. But she keeps watching, and so do I, the breath stuck in my throat. I’m surprised the boy hasn’t heard anything yet, like the crackling of twigs underfoot. But the dark figure is moving forward with methodical precision, like he’s done this many times before.
Now he’s twenty paces away from the boy.
At the very last second, the boy’s eyes widen, and he spins sideways. Melissa and her friends scream. The attacker lunges forward, his mouth twisted into a toothy snarl. I now see that his face is painted bloodred, with black lines rimming his eyes and lips.
The blue-eyed boy raises an arm, and surprisingly, I catch a flash of something sharp and silver hidden in his palm. It looks like a knife. Almost like he was expecting the attack and was just biding his time.
Then the image pops and slips into a dizzying array of electronic glitches. Everyone gasps. The screen cuts to black.
The docent looks truly alive for the first time. My classmates start babbling:
“Dude, what happened?”
“We want to see!”
“Bring it back up!”
“We lose the satellite feed sometimes,” the docent explains, entering a code on a touch-screen pad. “Not often, but it happens.”
Our class is getting noisier, and Ms. Baines shushes everyone. Our earpieces are practically blasting classical music now. A moment later the screen flares to life again.
But the blue-eyed boy and the dark figure are both gone. It’s just the trees, the grassy plain, the buildings, and that strange stone staircase, sitting there in a lifeless tableau.
Goose bumps run up and down my arms. The boy might be dead, unless he did indeed have a knife. Around me everyone is speculating about what might have happened.
The boy definitely didn’t look like he belonged on the island to me, but supposedly no one can tell from appearances. An Unanchored Soul is invisible to the eye. Antisocial tendencies cut across skin color, gender, looks, and everything else. Which is why the GPPT is so important.
At least I have nothing to worry about, I think. Of the millions of kids who take the test every year, only one thousandth of 1 percent fail and get sent to the island. And I’ve never done a single thing that suggests I’m a burgeoning psychopath. In fact, I’m pretty much the opposite of an Unanchored Soul. I get good grades, I keep my head down, and I look forward to the future.
While life as an orphan in the UNA might not be perfect, it could be a whole lot worse. So I know that the GPPT will show I pose no threat to anyone—let alone society itself.
Our class moves on to make way for another. Yet something about the blue-eyed boy on the video screen continues to linger in my mind and unsettle me just a tiny bit. What was he trying to tell us so desperately? And why did he look completely sane if he’s supposed to be an Unanchored Soul? For an instant, I wonder if it’s possible he got sent there by some fluke accident.
Then I put the thought right out of my mind. There’d have to be some kind of terrible mistake during the GPPT for such a thing to happen. And that would be inconceivable, because Minister Harka’s government—as it so often reminds us—never makes mistakes.
Posted January 12, 2013
Actual rating 2.5 Stars!
I am really on the fence about this book. I don't know exactly what to say about it, because I'm so divided. So... I guess I'll just do pros and cons.
- The Plot. I really liked the plot. I went in expecting it to be like a knock-off of The Hunger Games, but it really reminded me more of The Lord of the Flies, because of the whole island thing. There were a few times it reminded me a bit of Divergent, but not in a rip-off kind of way, just that it had some similar elements. And toward the end it started to remind me of the kind of plot a video game might have (when they were in the grey zone) which, for me, was a good thing... I guess.
- It answered my questions. I liked the way that when somebody was going to answer something, they just told you the answer. I hate it in books when they take 20 pages of dragging it out for the MC to learn anything. What's better was that there continued to be things for them to answer.
- The writing. It sounded a bit robotic, especially the dialogue. I've noticed that this is common with Distopian books, and I guess it fits the theme, but sometimes it made it hard to enjoy the read. Most of the time when they talked they only said one sentence, which got pretty tiring after a while.
- The setting. It would have been nice if it could have been set in, maybe, 2132 instead of 2032, because there is no way that any of that kind of stuff will be possible in 20 years or so. (19, really) I have the ability to "suspend my disbelief" which is something quite a few English teachers have told me to do in the past, but I prefer it when I don't have to. Also, there was about one paragraph of explanation about the UNA, and it really wasn't enough. It just seemed like she was saying it as briefly as possible to get it out of the way.
Things I'm on the fence about:
- The Insta-love. She did give us a reason that the insta-love was justified. It was a valiant effort, and I appreciate the little explanation, but its insta-love, and I still hate insta-love. But because she tried I'm not holding it hugely against the book.
- Monk's identity. I guessed pretty early on who the Monk was, and when they revealed I wasn't surprised at all. This, however, was not any fault of the writing. It wasn't like it was made glaringly obvious or anything, I just have an odd ability to guess that sort of thing easily. <i>But</i>
I think that most people will be surprised by who it is, and it'll be a fun twist, but I can't say for sure, which is why its not going under pros.
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Posted August 4, 2013
WOW! This book has left me utterly SPEECHLESS!!! My mind is still racing with all the action and adventure in this book! It was truly ONE of the BEST Dystiopian books I have EVER read! And that's saying a lot because I have read so many great dystiopian books, but this one ranks up there near the top!
Where do I start to name the many ways why I love this book? It was an action-packed thrill ride from beginning to end! And NO, I'm not exaggerating one bit!! It truly was! From the minute Alenna arrives on the wheel to the very end of the book were caught up in so much action, that I literally had to take breaks because my heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to explode! It was such a much fun to read this book! I LOVED IT!! I'm so glad I waited as long as I did to read this, because now, the second book is right around the corner, and I don't have to wait long to jump back into Alenna and Liam's adventure. And I heard the next book is just as good as the first one, if not better!
The United Northern Alliance the UNA for short has taken control of the government by brainwashing the citizens to believe that their is a threat within them! That the same people that are in the population are the same people bringing their world down, and they need to be stopped!! So they come up with the idea to detect early behavior problems in kids at the age of 16. They are given a test to determine if they have rebellious tendencies or as the government calls it Subversive Tendencies. And if they fail the test they are considered a threat either now or in the future, and are exiled and sent to the wheel, a mysterious island where they'll live their remaining days waiting too die. The life expectancy on island Alpha (The Wheel) is only eighteen years of age. That's only two years to live on the wheel!
The Wheel is a treacherous place where kids battle each other for territory and anything else they can claim. Their cruel, dangerous, and will kill you in a heart beat without thinking about it! Its not a place to mess around. But not all the kids on the wheel are like that. Their are two different groups of kids on the wheel. The Monk's Tribe called the Drones and the other Tribe from the blue sector. The other tribe doesn't have a name, but the drones call them The Heathens. So you can pretty much say you have the good "normal" kids that are from the blue sector, then you have the drones, the bad kids that are insane, that run 4 of the 6 sectors. The drones are brainwashed by their leader the Monk who claims he has spiritual powers and tells his tribe that the wheel is just a test and if they do what he says they'll get off the Wheel one day or find their reward in their afterlife. And some kids believe him an do what he says. The other kids that don't go to the blue sector with the semi-sane kids. If they can make it there without the drones capturing them and forcing them to join their tribe.
Alenna is one of the kids that failed the Government Personality Profile Test, GPPT for short, and is sent to the wheel, to pretty much wait for death to take her. She wakes up on the wheel and doesn't remember what happened to her or where she is, until it all starts coming back and she realizes she is at the last place she thought she would end up, the wheel! She immediately puts up a wall and trust one, and she's right too because these kids are dangerous. She has a run-in with one of the drones trying to claim her as one of them, and take her back to their leader the Monk. She is luckily rescued by one of the good kids from the blue sector, and is brought back to their village, and that's when Aleena's adventure starts!
She starts to form friendships with some of the kids from the blue sector, and quickly learns the ropes of how the wheel works. They are at a constant battle with the drones, and have their village attacked constantly. Their numbers are dwindling by the day, and they don't have enough kids to go to battle with the drones. So theirs only one other option if they want to survive the wheel, Escape...
So from there on Aleena and her group are traveling from their sector to the gray sector where their is talk of helicopters and a way off the island. But theirs just one problem! They have to go through enemy territory to get to the gray sector, the only sector that holds any hope of escape! So as you can see they have a constant battle in front of them if their going to make it to the gray sector and find a way of the island, alive!
It was truly an adrenaline ride that was action-packed, that kept me glued to the pages craving more! I can't wait until I can get back into this sickening, yet captivating world that Lisa Stasse created! She say an amazing imagination and surly shows it in this book!
Overall this book was everything I could of hoped for an more! It was full of action, adventure, friendship, betrayals, romance, and most of all, a fight for what they believed in! It just can't get any better then that! This book will forever hold a special place in my heart and bookshelf, and will go down as one of my favorite books of ALL TIME!!!
Posted March 18, 2013
i thought it would be better than it actually was. i enjoyed the book, but i felt that it was forgettable. Alenna was kind of boring and not much of a heroine... i had much higher hopes for this book- i was honestly really disappointed! i just thought it would be better. still, i liked the book and will be reading the 2nd one. hopefully the second book won't be much of a letdown!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2013
I was attracted to this book because it takes place in a dystopia setting. Teens are put through a series of tests and if they are determined to be criminals they are immediately sent away to an island until their death. Aleena is the main character is an orphan, her parents were taken to prison when she was just a small child. Once on the island of outcasts she soon discovers there is a secret concerning her parents. A group from her sector decide to take a journey to where they are sure civilization is and escape from the island.
This book does have some tension in it and sometimes it does read rather slow. It was a good book, however, not good enough for me to want to read they second in the series.
Posted February 21, 2013
Posted January 11, 2013
Great work! Make way for another dystopian tale!
originally appeared on: Bookshelf Confessions
I’ll start with thanking the author for giving me this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you so much. But I assure you guys, I’ll really be honest with what I feel about FORSAKEN.
The cover isn’t too glamorous, but it’s enough to get everyone’s eye and try to check it out. I notice that these days, those books that were fashioned in a not so fashionable way are actually the ones that hit the movies.. like the twilight series and hunger games, so maybe FORSAKEN is one of those, right? :D
For the first few chapters, it’s actually hard to delve into the story. This may be due to the fact, that we are just learning Alenna’s world. We get the facts about the UNA (Mexico, USA, Canada) –wow, these countries combined to be the superpower of the world (who would have thought!!!) and it’s exclusive, they totally are independent from other continents, the prime minister Harka (who seems to have a say in what the people eat, listen, read), how the people are being controlled by the government, the headphones that plays about how good and trustworthy the government is and is self-automated (it knows when to turn the volume up to drown negative noises), Alenna’s feeling of being different from everyone, the GPPT test that determines a person’s ability of being psychopathic despite not knowing it himself, etc. This is not sci-fi, but with all those futuristic gadgets/way of life/terms, I was a little bit lost.
But still I prodded on, and I wasn’t disappointed. On chapter 3, page 23, when Alenna found herself on The Wheel, FORSAKEN owned me. I was in the world Stasse created. What started off as just a peek, turned out to be a one-late-night-read.
With every turn of the page, excitement and thrill run through me. From the very first hours Alenna’s on The Wheel, there’s lots of action, running, fighting, and yes, death. She found friendship which she hadn’t in the outside world, and of course there’s romance, but don’t worry, it isn’t the main story, which I’m thankful for. Alenna and Liam’s attraction, just like most of the books today is instant and although it’s explained why at the later part of the book, I would have prepared if there’s a solid reason why they feel attracted to the other. But with or without romance, FORSAKEN is still FORSAKEN.
The writing style always keep me on edge. Perhaps, I found another author that’s truly a master of twists. When I thought, I finally figured it out, Stasse drops the bomb, and here I go scratching my head again. Especially the monk’s identity, I admit it intrigues me but I didn’t thought it would be possible. Good job Lisa! I was totally surprise.
Although, it’s a clean end, there are still some mysteries I’d like to unravel on the sequel. I can’t wait how Alenna and her allies will destroy or somehow stop the government.. and hmmm, I believe Alenna and Liam’s romance may take a bigger stage on this one. And, I almost forgot, Canadians are always mentioned when Alenna evaluates a person—the author might answer that for us.
FORSAKEN is not just another dystopian novel, here you’ll find action, learning, mistakes, friendship, family, conspiracy, mystery, romance, nasty experiments, add all you can think of. A great debut from Lisa M. Stasse, that you shouldn’t miss!! Very highly recommended.
Posted December 31, 2012
I admit, this book didn't really get a second glance from me at first. But, I really love working with author's directly. And Lisa, was awesome to work with!
I was unsure of our lead character Alenna at first. It seems in most dystopians, our lead is always unhappy with the government and ready to rebel with a little push. Alenna is actually quite happy to coast along and fly under the radar. She so convinced that she will pass the test, that it never occurs to her that she might fail. In fact, when she wakes up on the wheel after the test, she's convinced that there has to be some mistake. She's determined to survive even though she has no idea how or wear to begin. It's here that her character really begins to blossom. She's wants to prove to the band of teens who have to taken her that she can pull her own weight. They may be in control of a small part of the island and are are in constant battle with the "cult" that controls the rest, but Alenna feels the most at home here. She also quickly learns that they might also be here best chance to get off the wheel.
This clan is constantly sending out tracking parties to get a better lay of the wheel and possibly a way off. They've discovered a "gray" area that they believe is used to brings the teens in by plane. They must discover a way to enter the area (though enemy territory) and cross it to find a way off. This whole entire journey was intense and well played out.
The world building is really great in this book. I enjoyed the little view we get of the U.N.A. and the powers that control it. The wheel reminded me a little bit of the arena in The Hunger Games, but it definitely had it's own thing to it. What ddin't really work for me was how instantly Alenna fit into this group. Within days she had befriended the only female warrier, the lead tracker/hunter, and the leaders of the group. It's like they were waiting just for her to arrive. I also had a hard time with the dialog. Sometimes it was simple and very repetitive. I can't tell you how many time I heard that Alenna never fit in at home, and how so many of the other kids felt the same. I also disliked the romance. I think the story would have worked better without it, but it seems you can't find YA that doesn't contain it in some form or another.
The ending was not what I was expecting, so I'm really curious as to what happens next. I'll be looking for the next books!
Posted December 30, 2012
I love this book! These days dystopian stories are cookie-cutter copies of each other. This book is an exception to the rule, with wild plot twists and a fantastic new ideas. I recommend this book to all my friends. If your looking for a great read, stray from The Hunger Games and Twilight, read The Forsaken instead!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2012
Though I wish good luck to Aleena in future installments…I won’t be following
I almost didn’t finish this one. I’ll admit that one of the main motivating factors in my completion was that I asked for the book…from the author herself…who is also a Librarian by day! I had to give this book a chance.
In the end it wasn’t my favorite read. But, 100 pages in I realized this way the type of book that I end up completely disagreeing with other bloggers on. Don’t believe me? Check out The Forsaken’s 3.69 rating on Goodreads. Even one of my favorite bloggers, Jess @Gone with the Words, was a fan. I have trouble with books like this. I’d place The Forsaken in a category with I Am Number Four and Tempest. Two books a lot of readers loved! Well, I too loved Charlie the adorable puppy side-kick in I Am #4 but still…it’s star rating remains low.
I’m just going to come out and say it. I didn’t think the book was well written. It contained a lot of action and quick-moving plot points. But context was built through (sometimes) awkward dialogue and explicit statements rather than a more subtle ”showing” of emotion. Think “Brandon’s eyes shifted before locking on mine” vs. “Brandon lied to me.” We know that ‘shifty eyes’ indicate a, well, shifty character. As a reader I infer the untruth. Too much “telling” distracts me personally as a reader. It annoys me into DNF-ing more often than not.
My second issue with the book was Worldbuilding. I wanted more building to happen in the society of UNA before Aleena gets shipped off to the island. Maybe had I seen what Aleena had been expecting from the island experience – I wouldn’t have been so surprised to see how easily she adapted to island life. Because that threw me for a HUGE loop. I was expecting the dull quality of Lena in Pandemonium – The hysterical nature of a newly picked tribute. Heck, even Katniss was freaked out/shocked/stunned at times and girlfriend was prepared!
What hurts the most about reviewing this book was that there are sooo many good and fresh ideas to be found in this book!
1. I loved that Aleena was not a warrior woman. She was inexperienced and it showed. In a fight she reacted like I would have – with utter incompetence – brilliant to finally give us a dystopian character who doesn’t come to the novel with a surprise pack of special skills.
2. The love triangle. It was between two girls and a guy. Did you hear that? Finally, not just a testosterone fight for the princess. And get this: The girls are friends. Friends! I so wished the dynamics of this had been explored more. The emotional journey of the two girls would have been so very cool to see.
3. The premise is unique. The world of UNA seemed generic enough to start. Though, this could also be because there was no world building. But the twists and turns that follow were different. Areas like religion and war could have been explored further. It would have given the world the depth it was missing.
4. The ending…I won’t go into this as I don’t want to spoil anything for those who are planning to pick this one up. I just wish I could say I was more interested to see where this one goes.
Rating: 1/5 Though I wish good luck to Aleena in future installments…I won’t be following.
Posted December 4, 2012
We get straight into the story, beginning to learn about Alena's life as well as this new world that we are brought into. It may seem like it now, but there are some things brought up here that come back to haunt us at the end of the novel. This leaves us shocked and desperately wanting the next book, The Uprising, to continue on with Alena's journey.
As all first novels in a dystopian series go, this brings forth the new world and creates our setting. Although many dystopian series are the same in the way that rebellion becomes the main focus in the following novels, we can see this from the end of The Forsaken, and ultimately the title of book 2, The Uprising. Oozes rebellion yes? It is this, the first in the series that is always unique and we connect more with the characters and their surroundings, and their world so that when we step into the second book we already know the characters we are faced with and get straight into all the action of rebellion.
The only real predictable thing in this novel is the relationship that develops between Alena and Liam. When she first sees him in the museum on the screen of the wheel, we instantly feel the connection between them two as well as what is going to happen between them. In the end of the novel, the truth comes out about these two and how they first got that "spark", we think awwww when we read it but are sad at the same time.
All the events that happen after Alena is taken on the Wheel, we understand the shock she must feel through her first actions, and these actions are understandable within the first hour or two, but then the way she acts during her first week as well as during most of her time is questionable. She has been taught of the Wheel all her life, yet from this, she should know that no one is going to come and save her, and that on the Wheel she is FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE and DO NOT TRUST ANYONE.
We don't really focus too much on the characters as much as the plot. The events that occur take our attention and continually pull us through the novel. The plot is the main event of this novel, there is so much plot building so we get to know the world that they live in and the events that occur, that there is little left to the characters. Between Alena and Liam and how her parents got taken at the start, is really the most character building we get to see in this novel. However, we can tell that during the end of the novel, we can see that the start of The Uprising will have more character building as we are introduced to new (and lost) characters.
Deeper into the novel, we continually get shocked with what we find out. The information gained about the UNA, as well as what they are doing, and what they plan, pulls us through the end of the novel even more. All of our questions that were raised throughout the book have been answered at this point sometime, yet more questions are raised as we finish the novel to carry us into book 2. It leaves us with questions as we finish this novel and wait in agony for the next in the series.
Things really are not all that they seem. All that we believe about this world and this land turn hazy as the truth unfolds and reality sets in. From here, there are emotions running wildly about until the very end.
Posted November 30, 2012
The Forsaken is about an orphan girl who has to pass a test like everyone at her age that determines if she is prone to crime. If she fails, she will be shipped off to a prison island. One thing I noticed about this book was the little things that made me think of me of other science fiction novels (in an interesting and not copy-cat way). The start of the book really reminded of the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise. There are machines that remind me a little of War of The Worlds. And there was just a little dash of Divergent and The Maze Runner.
This is one of those books that takes a while to get into. It felt oddly slow at first even though lots of things are happening. I didn’t like the main character, Alenna, at first, but she gets more personality as the story goes on. There were a few plot elements that didn’t get explained all the way. One example is that two opposing gangs from the island decided to work together for reasons that made no sense to me. I noticed that a lot of the time there are questions kind of presented to you like it was trying to make me wonder about certain things. I really like to come to those kinds of questions on my own. The ending really picked up and caught my interest. The story closes in a satisfying way with no big cliff hanger, but there are missions left to be accomplished.
Overall, it was a good dystopian that had me entertained, especially towards the end, but I found too many things spelled out for me and some plot points not explained all the way.
Posted November 20, 2012
The Forsaken is an intense, riveting, action-packed read that I could not put down once I read the first lines. By the end of the Prologue alone, I knew that there was no chance of me leaving this book until I had finished it. Okay, so I did have to put it down a couple times, but it was not a willing decision of mine. Whenever I was away from this book, my mind and heart was still with it and the characters, wondering how they would overcome the plight they were currently in, puzzling over the latest twist that Stasse laid out, and guessing at what next she'll whip out in front of me. Because she doesn't throw curveballs. No, she plots ahead and sets up the framework for her next surprise way in advance so that we're already in the middle of the next big twist before we realize it.
The world building is spectacular. Reminiscent of 1984, this book had me ominously telling my brother that Big Brother is watching. The citizens of UNA are tested at the age of sixteen to see if they have the potential to be a criminal. Already the government sounds suspicious. Isn't everyone capable of evil when put in the right situation? Alenna never thought that she would be a rebel, but after being sent to The Wheel (or Island Alpha, as the government calls it) she has to learn how to fight in order to survive. Then there's the never-aging, never-changing Minister Harka and how the government always seems to know when something is up. (The whole reason behind my whispers, "Big Brother is watching.")
The characters are all just as vibrant and real as the world itself. It's not often that a book makes me feel so much for each individual character. They aren't perfect--far from it. They're teenagers who have been dropped on The Wheel for reasons they don't understand, with the exception of a few that have already formed their own suspicions about what's really going on. Many of the people that Alenna meets touched my heart and made me want to hug them and tell them everything's going to be all right (even though we don't know that for sure yet and though they'd probably kick my butt for trying to be all sympathetic when I should be picking up a weapon with them). They also made me want to slap them for being the unreasonable, silly teenagers that they can be at times, and then hug them because I know things are tough and they just want to be normal teenagers. Then there are characters who I think I understand but don't want to know, characters who I don't know what to think about--characters like the Monk. I want to label him as a villain, but he's so much more complex than that.
And, wow, there are so many things I want to rave about, but that's going to go into spoilers. I've already corrected myself several times when I tried to talk about a particular scene or something that made me fall more in love with a specific character. This is by far one of the best dystopians that I've ever read, and it is at the top of my list of favorite dystopians of 2012. It is one of those books that make me feel at peace once I've read the last words because I know that I have touched something beautiful, because I've just read the most amazing book ever. It is one of my favorite reads of the year. I am so very glad to have had the chance to review this book. And have I mentioned how much I'm dying to read book two?
Posted September 25, 2012
For the past few years I've tried my best to try out more and more dystopian titles. I was hesitant at first, but after finding that I was enjoying the books I picked up more and more, I've found that now I can't resist them. I'm adding titles like these to my TBR list more often and I couldn't be more thrilled to branch out that much more in the genres I have come to love and call my favorites. Stasse has a winner on her hands. Not that these titles have anything to do with the other, but if you're a fan of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Divergent by Veronica Roth, than I think you'll find that this title needs to be added to your list. It was a standout for sure!
Without knowing anything about the author, or the book other than the short description given on the back I was at a loss on what to expect going into this title. But I can honestly say that despite my not having many expectations for this one, it surpassed any that I would have projected regardless. It was fast paced, well written, the scenes flowed into each other nicely and just the right amount of a back story and details were given. Stasse didn't overload her readers, but instead left them desiring more information, more insight into this new world and horrid government at the helm. It was addicting and impossible to put down.
Alenna as well as a wonderful cast of her fellow characters have quite the adventure ahead of them. An island of misfits and dangerous individuals is no laughing matter. Deserted and expected to fend for themselves (or better yet no survive at all) there is no one to look to for help or answers. Her world was turned upside down in a matter of minutes and she knew that unless she used her mind and whatever bravery she could conjure up, she wouldn't stand a chance. I can't say enough how much fun it was to read this quick dialogue, meet the unique and intriguing characters, and all the while trying my best to solve the puzzles of the island as well as what this government is really up to. Fun will be had by all! Truly looking forward to checking out the next installment in the series when it's released.
Posted September 17, 2012
This one I wasnt to sure about. But I was happily surprised! With twists and turns this book will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. Which then you find yourself screaming NOOOO I want MORE! I cant wait for more! I don't spoilers as you all know. But, I will say one thing. The only thing I really didn't like about this book is time. You don't figure out what the date is until well into the book. Which really sucks. You know that its sometime in the future but how long into the future you just don't know.
If you want to know the date flip to page 241(might be diff for a finished copy) and look for the date. Then add 10 years to it.
"*I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own."
Posted September 16, 2012
This is the kind of book that completely encases you in it's world and has no mercy until the absolute last page. I was totally entranced!
The Forsaken is about 16 year old Alenna Shawcross, who has everything ripped away from her at only 10 years old when her parents are stolen away right in front of her, by the government: The U.N.A - or United Northern Alliance. The U.N.A is the super-country consisting of the old United States, Mexico, and Canada. Afterwards, Alenna is forced to grow up as an orphan until she has to take the GPPT test, or the Government Personality Profile Test. The GPPT test is administered to all juniors in high school, and predicts if a person has an inclination to do criminal activity. If you pass, you continue on with life as a docile follower of the tyrannical government; if you fail, you are marked as an "Unanchored Soul" and shipped to a desolate prison island called Prison Island Alpha, later known to it's inhabitants as "The Wheel", where the life-expectancy is only 18 years old.
After taking the test, Alenna is absolutely shocked to find herself waking up on Prison Island Alpha with no recollection of how she got there and no idea of how to survive. But she finds purpose on the island when she learns that both of her parents have been former inhabitants of Island Alpha, and have sent messages to her years ago. While Alenna looks for answers to her past, she must also: learn to adapt to the barbaric lifestyle of the island, try to dodge it's deadlier populace, and think of a way off - all without running the risk of falling in love...
What I liked about this book:
The Forsaken has been compared to The Hunger Games and I can see why. It was absolutely riveting! The action was a 10! The plot development was a 10! The characters were detailed and complex! I like that Stasse explained everything early on, about the government and the island, but she still left some surprises for the reader as well!
Alenna was an amazing main character! At first, I was afraid she would crumple under the weight of the island, and become weak and feeble but boy, was I wrong! By the end, she nearly transforms into a strong, confident, and beautiful warrior! I was proud, to say the least.
The uniqueness of the plot has me wanting to crawl into Stasse's mind just to see what I'd find in there. It was such an expansive idea - sending exiled teenagers to a prison island with no rules, ways of life, OR technology/advancements - but Stasse made it work in every single way!
What I disliked about this book:
There was a tiny bit of insta-love between Alenna and Liam but I didn't mind at all! It was still romantic as ever, and I still swooned!
Please read this book if you love action, romance, or just simply getting lost in amazing books! It will not disappoint!
Posted August 17, 2012
When I first saw this book, I got the urge to read it because of both
the cover and the summary. It sounded intriguing and I was in the mood
for an exciting dystopian book. I wasn't disappointed at all. The
Forsaken is a mixture of Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games on acid.
Once you start reading, there's no stopping. It's blow after blow after
blow. The idea, at first, might sound a little overused, but Stasse took
me by surprise with every turn of events. Even after reading so many
post-apocalyptic books with the same concept utilized in the same way,
The Forsaken shaped an entirely new world where nothing ceased to
surprised me. It took me on an adventure I will probably never forget.
It was raw, intense, and chilling to the bone. Alenna was someone you
could like and not like at the same time. She was brave, I'll give her
that, and maybe a little determined. The only faults I found in her was
the fact that she was very hesitant and didn't have much of a
personality. She didn't make me laugh, or cry, or frown, or anything. I
found her to be a little bland at the beginning, which would make sense
since she was mostly invisible back in the U.N.A. but she kept it up
through most of the book. I loved her sudden ferociousness closer to the
end though, she was finally turning into that kick-butt heroine everyone
needed her to be. Gadya was my favorite character. She was Alenna's
contrast (until the end of course). She was also the key ingredient to
many of the upsides in this book: such as it's tinge of humor, sudden
anger, and female fierceness that had me biting my nails throughout the
story. She had a personality that marveled and stunned, which made her
famous and even well-liked (at her worst moments as well). This was
something Alenna lacked. Gadya is memorable, she made her place in the
story, Alenna didn't. Liam's character was the only character I failed
to care for. He was interesting up the point where he turned into this
drooling dog over Alenna. It was weird how he grew feelings for her
before he even knew her. Alenna felt it too, and it's a connection that
failed to make it's mark in the book. Liam was like a ghost. Yes, he was
important (sort of), but it didn't seem like it. He was too simple, too
gushy and cliche. No matter how faulty his character seemed to be, he
was actually very flawless. The romance between Liam and Alenna was the
downside of this book. Stasse didn't give it enough time to ripen. There
were no swoon-worthy, hot moments. The whole 'I like like you after
meeting you two days ago' made Liam seem like a tool. The relationship
was super fast, unexciting, and a little disappointing. The plot was
incredibly compelling. I enjoyed every minute of it. There were no holes
and it was easily understandable, but not so easy as to ruin the
entertainment. There were some parts that were predictable and others
that had my jaw drop to the floor. I seriously underestimated the
element of surprise in this book and now I've learned my lesson (again).
The adventure was gruesome, but definitely worth it. I had trouble not
gasping out loud after every turn of events. Stasse has this way of
absorbing me into this new world she spun with her words so I really
felt like I was part of the journey. Overall, I really loved The
Forsaken. Yes, the romance was bad and most of the characters didn't
leave that much of a mark on me, but the adventure and the concept of
the book itself had me glued to the book. There's nothing like a
thrilling venture through a world of the unknown & deadly to keep
you on your toes. I recommend this to anyone who loves a wild, gruesome
roller coaster ride.
Posted August 10, 2012
You know how all dystopian novels are now labeled the next "Hunger Games"? and you know how every time, the book has nothing to do with HG or just isn't up to its level? Well The Forsaken not only has a total HG vibe, but its unique plot, mystery, characterization, and excellent storytelling mark it as one of my favorite dystopians of 2012!
This dystopian world has two types of people, anchored and unanchored souls. If a person has an unanchored soul when they go through the GPPT test, they are sent to Alpha Island, where everyone runs around and kill each other like savages and the unanchored souls they are. But us readers know thats not the whole truth, a dystopian world isn't one without its lies, schemes, cover ups and power hungry leaders. When the main protagonist, Alenna, is sent to Alpha Island, she gets sucked into turf wars. She ends up on the good side, the other being one where the people do act like savages, wearing masks, killing anything in sight, and worshipping their mysterious monk, hence the given name Drones. Alenna is an orphan, her parents were taken one night and she never saw them. When she gets there, she finds herself discovering something about her parents and joining an expedition, trying to find a way to get out of The Wheel. This is when the excitement begins.
At the beginning, we get a quick romance line between Alenna and a guy on the wheel, however I was glad when the plot refocused on the expedition and trying to survive. This is why the second half of the book was so much more enjoyable than the first. The characters battle drones, machinery, and the harsh weather. I honestly could not put the book down. Also this novel did not go stingy on deaths. She didn't cling to her characters and the unrealistic need to keep them all safe in a place where not many people can stay alive. Lisa also threw at us so many unexpected and shock worthy information. I was gasping every 10 pages towards the end of the novel. Also the characters were always given a choice to do the right or wrong thing and at some points doing the wrong thing is what really needs to be done. Lisa M. Stasse has captured my attention from the first page of The Forsaken, but what made the book for me was the flowing plot and the narration. The ending is a promise for me but it is free of the massive cliffhangers that break our heart. I honestly can't wait for book #2 and continue on the journey of Alenna!
Posted July 15, 2012
The Forsaken is a heart-stopping, action packed beginning to a series that I already have fallen in love with and am yearning for the next.
Alenna has always felt like an outsider, different in some unexplained way from society until she fails the personality test and is shipped to The Wheel, where even though they all should be mentally unstable or have a predisposition for violence, she finally feels like she fits in.
I know that I could really relate with Alenna, I never quite feel like I fit in, and one day I hope that I find that circle of people where I really do. It comes close with book blogging, and fortunately I have my husband, but I still feel on the edges sometimes. So it really is awesome to watch Alenna come to realize her strengths, and bond with the people around her. She has things to teach Gadya, Rika, David, Liam and the others, and they have things to teach her. Like how to fight, the value of being kind, that things aren't always what they seem and to never give up.
This is a gritty and suspenseful novel, and Lisa really nailed the dystopian category. The government is corrupt and it seems so powerful, but there are cracks. There are groups of rebels and they fight to survive. Lisa wrote her characters where I cared about them, and it was hard to read when something happened for them. I rooted for them and for the best to happen to them, and sometimes it did, and keeping it realistic, sometimes it didn't.
There was a spy in the camp, and I kept switching up my suspicions on who it was. Lisa really had a talent there, making people seem suspicious, and then clearing them in ways that I didn't see coming. David especially. One minute I was warm to him, and believing that he really had Alenna's best interest at heart, and then he would do something to make me think, well... Hmmm... But I didn't even really suspect who they said it was in the end... but I am wondering if it is really that person because of the phrasing.
Lisa Stasse paces the story beautifully. There is always action going on, keeping me on my toes, wondering what will go wrong next, and how they will get themselves out of each sticky situation. She throws me just enough of a bone with the romantic tension, of course leaving me wanting more, and for each question that she answers, I have more that I just know will be revealed in its sweet time.
I flew through this story, staying up til 2am to finish because I couldn't go to sleep without knowing what happened to the characters that I grew so attached to.
I love the plot, setting, characters... practically everything of this book. When I was out on one of my daily book hunting trips, this was the first novel I picked up. The cover is captivating and after reading half of the first chapter, I automatically bought this novel.I was not disappointed with my choice to buy this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2012
No text was provided for this review.