Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Release: July 10th 2012
Genre: Dystopia, Survival, YA
#1 in the Forsaken trilogy
Sequels: The Uprising (#2), The Defiant (#3)
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.
This book has so little problems that it's problematic again. Now, that may sound contradictory at first, but bear with me for a second here. You see, this novel is one that follows the guidelines of average survival/dystopia story to a T. Every single trope, twist and plot device that you would expect is there, it is so awfully mediocre that it's almost not enjoyable because it is so boringly ordinary. See what I mean?
That is why, ultimately, the book fell through for me. The first half was interesting and that was when I still thought The Forsaken could be good, but soon I had to make the realization that I have seen and read this type of book, and exactly this type of book, a hundred times before. It's all there: the not-so-orphaned heroine, the controlling government, the obligatory test you take in your teens to test for something that will be pulled as a plot twist later on, the prisons rebels are being sent to, the insta-love, the bitchy girl, the high school drama, the major plot twist that is so expected it's laughable, the clue hunt for the whereabouts of the missing parents, <spoiler>the parent that is MAGICALLY alive and that we did not expect at all!</spoiler>, ... Seriously. There was not a single thing that surprised me about this novel, which ultimately killed the vibe.
What also majorly killed it was said insta-love, which is, again, one of the worst ones I have ever had the misfortune of stumbling upon. Granted, at least for once the relationship is not abusive in any way and the guy is not a jerk! But it was still very cringe-worthy how soon the romance started and I believe they kissed on, like, page 140 or something. Not to mention that there's the "instant recognition, feeling like they've known each other already before they met" spark that's supposed to create chemistry but personally, made me recoil from the whole thing, rather. I'll give Stasse one thing, and one thing only, and that's that she at least acknowledges that romance might not be the highest of priorities when you're trying to survive, and also Alenna at first turns Liam down because she knows her homegirl Gadya still has feelings for him. She at least tries to honor the girl code in some way. However, even this turns into every soap opera drama ever soon anyways, with Gadya, despite giving in and giving them their blessing soon after, being majorly pissed at Alenna for "stealing her boyfriend" or some shit and it all gets about a hundred times more ridiculous.
As for the characters themselves, it's really almost a shame because they truly showed promise. Alenna was not a totally incompetent, dumb heroine! She could do what was right when she wanted to, she made the right decisions! I'll let that sink in for a moment.
Despite it all though, the why's behind some of Alenna's actions still remain a mystery to me and I simply cannot overlook the fact that she <spoiler>was whining like a little bitch and bumbling about when Liam was taken. Get your shit together, girl, you've known the guy for like two weeks. Two fucking weeks. You kissed, like, twice!</spoiler>
The rest of the characters were bland, bland, BLAND. I swear I have rarely come across characters that are this average. They didn't make me feel anything! I couldn't even hate them because they were so dull and uninteresting. Meh.
Ultimately, I think "meh" is a pretty good word to describe this novel overall. It's not outright bad, it's just that it is so unoriginal and uncreative that it's just no fun to read in the end. There's nothing that makes it stand out, it's so generic that it's almost not even worth the time of day. If you haven't read that many dystopians and feel like you haven't had your fair share of them yet, then this might not be such a bad choice, but if you, like me, are sick of the same old, same old, you'd better steer clear of this one.