Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

Title: The Forsaken
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Pages: 375 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC via Southern Book Bloogers ARC tour
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

The Forsaken (The Forsaken, #1)A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy for fans of The Hunger Games.

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 novel could have been so fantastic, especially considering the shades of other, greater novels within it (such as Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and The Giver) and its fast pacing. Unfortunately, The Forsaken fails to be half as good as any of the novels it borrows from and somehow manages to be an exciting bore. I'll explain what I mean by that in a minute.

The fast pacing and near-relentless action sequences kept the novel moving and it's easy to keep turning the pages until there aren't any pages left to turn. While few of the twists caught me off-guard, there was one that managed to surprise me and I thought it was a pretty good twist. Unlike many YA novels, it's not afraid to kill people and get a little violent the way it should, though the violence is still tame. I want to say more, but that's really all the good The Forsaken has to offer.

What makes this an exciting bore is that while the action is exciting, the characters involved in that action are bland, unmemorable, and more like pieces to be moved when needed than characters. They do what they're supposed to in a certain place to move the story along and that's about it. Alenna is easily forgettable and her romance with Liam is insta-love. There's no spark or reason to care whether or not they get to be together because they're so bland and lack deeper characterization. The writing is more tell than show and Alenna's thought processes are often eye-rolling, such as anything she thinks in italics when describing a scene. Whether a plane is crashing or they discover something terrible, her thoughts can always make it seem less dramatic than it is.

Yet another problem is that the blurb claims this book is thought-provoking. What thoughts does it provoke? The Forsaken treads the exact same themes about freedom and the evils of a government becoming a controlling tyranny that every other dystopian novel published in the last three years has covered. This book offers no new questions--it doesn't even offer an interesting spin on the same old questions. It's a cookie-cutter book.

Don't even get me started on Gadya. She's a contradictory, badly characterized mess and exemplifies many of the qualities I've been complaining about for months concerning negative female characterization. Really, she's going to start an argument about boys when she and Alenna are on an island where kids are regularly dying? She'll act one way in one scene, another way in the next scene, another way in the scene after that--basically, she acts however she needs to in order to move things along. She has no set characterization because she is the Every-Character (tm), who can conform to fit any role the plot demands a character to fit.

If turned into a major motion picture, The Forsaken would be one hell of an action movie. Maybe that's my problem: I don't like action movies because they often lack the character development and depth I desire, and I don't like books that read like action movies waiting to be made.

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you didn't like this book! :( It sounded good, but I was unsure if I would like it.


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