Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Interest: 2012 Debut Author / Dystopian
Summary (From Goodreads): 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 Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse is a cool new addition to the dystopian YA genre. It’s fast-paced, and while there are comparisons to The Hunger Games, The Forsaken is its own book.
Lisa M. Stasse’s debut is full of non-stop action. Within the first few chapters readers are taken to The Wheel with Alenna and thrown into a precarious situation. Teen readers looking for a book that’s adventurous and fast-paced are going to love The Forsaken. So many of my students will stop reading a book because of “the slow parts.” There aren’t any slow parts in this book. It actually felt like the story had a rhythm; there would be an intense scene full of flight-or-fight scenarios and then there was a more subdued scene after that. I’m really expecting my students to enjoy this one, and I’ll be sure to hand it to those looking for something that’s “like The Hunger Games.”
I like the premise of The Forsaken as well. No one really knows why these kids, like Alenna, have been shipped to The Wheel. There’s plenty of speculation, but nothing is really understood until the last couple chapters. There’s also the feeling that everyone on The Wheel is being watched, but no one knows who’s monitoring them or where they are. The premise and setting made me think of Lord of the Flies and also Variant by Robison Wells. I haven’t read The Maze Runner by James Dashner, but I think they might be comparable also. There’s just something intriguing about leaving teenagers to their own devices without any direct adult supervision, especially when they’re stranded on an island.
While I enjoyed the fast pace of this book, the beginning needs more world building and character development. We’re given a glimpse of what the country is like and how the government has taken over, but we don’t know many details about it. More are revealed at the end, but I needed something extra to get me more invested in the story. I also need more time with Alenna before she’s sent to The Wheel. We barely get a chance to know her before she’s sent there. The whole process happened in a blink of the eye, although much of that is part of the story and the mystery behind why certain kids are sent away. The Forsaken felt very plot driven to me and I usually prefer character driven stories. I want to feel like I connect with the character(s) and I didn’t feel that way at all while reading this.
As a reader, I wanted a little more from The Forsaken, but as a teacher I know many of my students will enjoy it. The students in class craving an action-packed adventure will love every page of Lisa M. Stasse’s debut.