Lisa M. Stasse
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
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.
Welcome to a book that is Hunger Games meets The Lord of the Flies meets Gone by Michael Grant meets Unwind meets…
Forsaken was a great surprise for me and I think for the dystopian genre.
It does take a lot of ideas that have been dealt with before (kids vs kids,
adults sending kids away as a warning), but it also has some pretty scary and
realistic feeling issues put in as well. One of these things that I love is
that the government realizes exactly what they need to do to keep its citizens
from being able to rebel against them.
We are given a very brief overview of how America is at this point, but it's enough to establish it as a comparison point for what Alenna and others are led to believe about everything government wise and about The Wheel. When we do get to The Wheel I also really enjoyed the madness of it all. Like Alenna, we have no idea what's going on, why it's going on, but we know that it is insane, that life is hard and dangerous there.
We think we know who to trust, but we aren't entirely sure and it puts an edge to the novel.
As soon as Alenna mentioned recognizing the Monk's voice, I knew that it was going to be Minister Harka, so when that was revealed I loved it. It's also the perfect twist to the novel. I also really liked how the book seemed to go so much farther than it had to. The added factor that they are dissecting the teens bumps it up so much.
The dystopic elements are so much stronger than other YA dystopias, much closer to the classic Dystopias in that way. This is a government that is taking complete control over its citizens and knows exactly what it needs to get rid of to keep rebellions from happening: isolation and getting rid of those who will think for themselves.
The one other thing though, is that the feelers took kids so quickly after we just got to know them that it felt obvious that kids weren't getting killed (or at least right away) because Alenna needed to be able to save them. Especially Liam.
I also wonder a lot about the added element of Meira and Veidman being spies, I wish we had seen more of them so I could see it in a reread.
Finally the biggest thing that kept this novel from getting a full 5 stars from me is the ending, as much as I'm sure Stasse wanted to show off the reveal about the rebels, I think the story would have been stronger if it ended with them in the plane, not knowing what was going on. It is just enough as an ending that if she decided not to write another book I'd live (there would just be lots of fanfiction) but gives a huge cliffhanger since there obviously is (when isn't there a sequel anymore?). Instead I felt as if I was slapped with too much information at the very end.
If you are a lover of YA Dystopian fics, do not let this one pass you by, it has many of the great elements you probably love in other ones, though it is strictly YA formula in the way it's pulled off, so if you're a fan of classic Dystopias it might be less of your thing.