Alenna Shawcross has learned not to expect much out of life. It may be because at the age of 10, she watched in horror as her parents were taken from her and ended up an orphan. It also may be because she lives under the oppressive rule of the UNA, a nation formed from the remnants of Canada, the USA and Mexico. Nearly everything in her life is regulated, and that includes the real threat that if she doesn’t pass a UNA-sponsored test at the age of 16, she will be banished to the Wheel. The Wheel is the place where they send all teenagers who have the potential for a destructive personality.
"The ongoing twists and turns will keep the pages turning, and there are more than a few game-changing shocks throughout.... your adrenaline will stay spiked the whole time."
Despite hoping for a better future, Alenna awakens from her test in the strange jungles of the Wheel and is immediately forced to fight for her survival. She narrowly escapes being captured by one of the rival gangs on the island and instead joins a small group of survivors. Through one of her newfound friends, Gadya, Alenna eventually learns that the Wheel is broken into three sections. The mysterious Monk and his drones control the largest section. Alenna is in the smallest section where the few remaining free kids live. The other area, the gray zone, is essentially off-limits but may contain the only hope for getting off the island.
Life on the Wheel is hard, and if fighting doesn’t kill off teenagers, then a mysterious sickness doesn’t let them live much past 18. Alenna is also not sure to trust. Gadya seems reasonable enough, but she’s a fighter and always out for blood. There’s David, the first person Alenna met on the island, but he seems to have alliances with everyone and hasn’t exactly come off as trustworthy. Then there’s Liam, the first boy who has ever noticed Alenna. An instant attraction develops between them, but she is afraid to give her heart over to a boy when so much more is at stake.
Not content with constantly falling prey to the Monk and his drones’ attacks, a small group sets out to travel to the gray zone and hopefully find a way of leaving the Wheel. Despite her short time on the island, Alenna decides to join the expedition. Getting there won’t be easy, though, and there’s no telling what awaits them when they actually arrive.
In the new crop of dystopian literature hitting the shelves, THE FORSAKEN stands out for a few different reasons. First, nothing is as it appears. The ongoing twists and turns will keep the pages turning, and there are more than a few game-changing shocks throughout. Second, your adrenaline will stay spiked the whole time. Rival gangs are at constant odds with each other, and don’t forget that the UNA is also keeping a close watch on the inhabitants of the Wheel. Finally, this is the first book in a planned series by debut novelist Lisa M. Stasse, so the action and mystery has only just begun!
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on July 21, 2012