So I was talking to a friend who teaches high school in Los Angeles, and I was telling her about my debut YA novel, THE FORSAKEN, just published by Simon & Schuster. I was about to launch into the plot summary, when she cried out --- and it was almost like she just couldn't stop herself --- "Oh no! Not another dystopian!" The words burst out of her like an anguished plea to end her suffering.
There was a brief moment of super awkward silence, but then I just started laughing hysterically, and so did she. I think she was kind of embarrassed, but of course I totally understood where she was coming from. Dystopian fatigue sets in for some readers sooner rather than later. That's inevitable. But for me, it will probably never set in, because I've always loved them—from really obscure dystopians like THE DROWNED WORLD by J.G. Ballard, to classics like 1984 and BRAVE NEW WORLD.
Anyway, I guess the real question is, why should you choose to read THE FORSAKEN right now, despite the fact you have 5,246 other new dystopian novels to chose from (approximately). So here are five reasons why:
1. THE FORSAKEN is gritty and realistic. My protagonist Alenna Shawcross has no special super-powers or awesome talents at first. She's just a regular girl thrown into a brutal and intense situation. When she gets wrongly exiled to a prison island called "the wheel," she has to learn how to forge alliances and fight back pretty fast—or else she's not going to survive much longer than a few days. Nothing gets sugarcoated.
2. THE FORSAKEN is a thriller. It's about action, sci-fi, mystery and suspense. There's definitely a hot romance, but it's not the sole focus. I love thrillers and sci-fi stuff as much as I love Jane Austen. I tried to keep the romance faithful to the story without it overwhelming the plot.
3. THE FORSAKEN has some huge twists, plus an ending that I hope most readers don't see coming. People have been referring to this as the "unmasking" scene, and saying it's one of the most surprising things they've read in a while. I think that's great!
4. THE FORSAKEN is a "Dystopian 2.0" novel. A lot of readers have been commenting that it reminds them of the TV show Lost, or The Wizard of Oz, or War of the Worlds—or any number of things that aren't strictly dystopian—as much as it reminds them of THE HUNGER GAMES, THE MAZE RUNNER and DIVERGENT. I'm really glad, because I wanted to drag some of my own varied influences into the dystopian realm to create something new.
5. The next book in THE FORSAKEN trilogy is even more intense and darker than the first one (I just finished writing it a few weeks ago). I have a pet peeve about trilogies where the first book is entertaining, and then the second two are just kind of blah. So I promise you that THE FORSAKEN series will just keep getting more awesome with each book. The stakes are high for Alenna and her friends. Not all of them will survive the journey ahead.
So, thank you for reading this guest post. Come visit me online at all the regular places and say hello anytime! And check out the official book trailer on YouTube.