About the book:
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 month we read “The Forsaken” by Lisa M. Stasse, the first book of a new dystopian trilogy. Stasse has given us a well written book about a dismal future in which a dictator has taken over North America and turned it into a military-state. There is no freedom and the people have no rights.
This is the world that Alenna has grown up in as an orphan, after her parents were taken away by the police when she was a little girl. As a result of that traumatic event in her life, she has learned to be quiet, blend in and not rock the boat. When she is sixteen she must take a test that all sixteen year olds are required to take. This test determines if teens have a propensity for violence. Teens that are found to be violent are sent to an island known as “The Wheel”.
Alenna is sure she will pass and is shocked when after the test, she awakens on “The Wheel”. The most difficult journey in her life begins as she fights for her life and tries to learn who to trust, who her real friends are. She even falls in love in the middle of all of the chaos in her life. There is a little bit of everything for all readers to enjoy: action, mystery, friendship, and even some romance.
Interestingly, our book club readers’ results were across the spectrum. For a chance to win a copy of the book, just leave a comment and we’ll pick a random winner by Aug. 10! Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing us all a copy of the book to read!
“Young” Reader Average: B
Lily graded the book a B
As an obedient citizen of the UNA, Alenna never thought she might be found guilty of possessing an “unanchored soul” and shipped off to Island Alpha, a place where two groups of teenagers fight a brutal war and an unknown sickness ravishes the bodies of seemingly healthy teenagers. Despite her efforts at avoiding him, Alenna finds love with Liam, a handsome boy who is certain that the mysterious “grey zone” holds the key to getting off the island, but is it possible?
I found this book to be overall an enjoyable read. It was fast paced and well written despite being very cliché. The romantic aspect of the book seemed forced, the character of Liam seemed rather lifeless, and to make up for that, the author would throw something in about “the passion in his eyes” and the like. Also, the scene where Alenna first sees Liam (on a screen in the UNA) seemed rather forced especially when Aleena says she feels as if she has known him all her life. The mystery of Monk, a leader of a cult on the island, was easy to figure out also. Despite that, I felt the book was an easy, fun read.
“Adult” Reader Average: B+
Amanda graded the book an A
When I first started reading “The Forsaken,” I immediately started thinking that this was going to be a “Hunger Games” wanna-be book. I was wrong. This book’s futuristic plot line is about a girl named Alenna who is raised in a world where the government uses a test to try to identify those with anti-government tendencies.
I enjoyed how the author created a compelling, female character who has more internal strength, than she believes she possesses, but is propelled forward by her convictions to discover the truth. The book takes us through a journey of self-discovery, shows us the importance of values, and how we need a society who can think on its own and not follow others blindly. This book is a good mix of the “Hunger Games,” “Left Behind,” and “The Giver.” Throughout the story, the reader actively begins to think about future life as well as the role of government and genetics. We are painted a bleak picture of a power-hungry government and how independent thinkers are what make the world a better place.
I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me. I’m not naturally drawn towards reading futuristic novels, but I wanted to keep reading this one, and I’m looking forward to a sequel.
Keely graded the book an A
The Forsaken is a dystopian portrait of our country’s future – seemingly orderly and peaceful on the surface with dark secrets underneath. Alenna starts out as an unlikely heroine. Unsure of herself in that gangly teenage not quite adult way, yet certain of her future – surely she’s meant to lead a “normal” life. But her fate hinges on her family’s past and the machinations of the government – with ramifications that trickle home through whispers and secrets that slowly unravel as Alenna’s future takes the path she least expected. It is down this path that Alenna finds out who she really is – and how to be true to a self she is just beginning to understand. The cast of characters will surprise you as their stories entwine with Alenna’s and if you’re at all like me, you’ll be waiting anxiously to find out what happens in the next chapter. Plot twists and turns abound in The Forsaken constantly leaving you on your toes– I got it one day and found myself finishing it the next – truly a page turner. Supremely good at sniffing out plot turns – I was pleased that a few took me by surprise. Lisa Stasse paints a dark future, but Alenna is the bright light that will draw you in from page one. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series!
Diana graded the book an A
Lisa M Stasse has started a trilogy that depicts a bleak future in which all of North America is one country. It is a country where the government controls everything and does not allow its citizens freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or any of the freedoms that we take for granted in the United States. One of the ways that the government controls its citizens is that all sixteen year olds must take a test that determines whether or not you are capable of being a criminal (0f violence). If the test determines that you are, you are sent to an Island known as “The Wheel”.
This is where our protagonist, Alenna surprisingly finds herself. She never imagined that she would be sent to “The Wheel”. Once there you find an island that is run by outcast teens. The kids that are sent there have naturally find themselves following those who display leadership skills. Those who are stronger, smarter, and assertive find themselves in control. There are two “tribes” on the island and Alenna finds herself in the middle of a war between the tribes. In the midst of this war, Alenna finds friendship and even love.
I liked the book and found it to be an entertaining, and sometimes suspenseful read. It wasn’t necessarily a book that I couldn’t put down, it was one that I did look forward to reading. I especially enjoyed the twists at the end of the book and I look forward to the rest of the trilogy to find out what will happen to Alenna and her friends.
Cara graded the book an A-
I went into The Forsaken with some dystopia weariness. There has been a dearth of series in this genre in recent years. Many of them really quite good: Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent; some not quite so fantastic. I have enjoyed reading many books in this genre, but even fans can find themselves a little tired of the subject from time to time. After stalling a bit starting it, I read a quick palate cleansing chick-lit romance and then jumped in with both feet.
I wish I could say that I was sucked in immediately, but the first half was slow to catch my interest. The action is fast paced from the beginning, which makes it a page-turner, but we don’t really get to know Alenna or the supporting characters. Without an emotional connection to the lead, it was hard for me to get involved. I understand that Alenna is supposed to be “everykid” but she’s the hero of our tale, so I expect a little more. But as the book progressed, I found myself more engaged and invested in the storyline, so much so that by the time there were major reveals in the second half, I was totally hooked and surprised. There were definitely some unexpected twists!
When I began the book, I found myself constantly comparing plot elements to other books in the genre. But despite some early similarities, The Forsaken took turns that definitively set it apart from its fellows. And while I would like to see a little more character development, it is a unique and well-thought out world with a compelling storyline. I am excited to see what happens in the next books!
Jenn graded the book a B-
The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse bears a strong resemblance to several other Dystopian novels, most notably The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. In this novel, after failing a mandatory psychological exam administered to all teenagers of the UNA, Alenna is deposited on a secluded island with other teenagers the government classifies as potential subversives.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it like the Hunger Games or Divergent. I had a lot of little nitpicks, such as the author’s use of italics, which seemed to be applied inconsistently (sometimes for thoughts, sometimes for actions). I also didn’t like that Alenna was given a hobby that had absolutely no purpose in the story. But the biggest problem for me was how quickly Alenna and Liam fell in love. I liked Liam a lot (half-Latino, half-Brit for the win!), but I thought their relationship felt very rushed. I wish Stasse had taken the time to develop it over the course of the trilogy.
The story held my interest, but I wasn’t truly hooked until the end when Stasse introduced quite a few surprising twists that had me flipping eagerly through the pages. The characters were the best part of the story, though. They all seem to have mysterious motivations driving them to try to get off the island. I really wanted to learn more about their lives before they ended up on the wheel, and I hope that the subsequent books in the trilogy will go into that.
Jessica graded the book a C-
A bland, mousy girl named Alenna fails a government blood test and is sent to the island for teens who are likely to oppose the oppressive government regime. After landing on the island she discovers it’s made up of two warring teen groups and survival means finding the area on the islands run by the adults. She meets a suspicious boy named David, who saves her, a blue-haired girl named Gadya, who also saves her and becomes her gal pal/tour guide, and falls in love (gag) with a hottie hunter who feels immediately, inexplicably the same.
There were a few twists I didn’t see coming and the action keeps up for most the book — a lot happens in a short amount of time. But I never got into the story. First off, Alenna sees her parents get carted off by the government and is put into an orphanage and… she’s kinda okay with it. Really?! And she’s a guitar player. That’s her skill. That’s it. A guitar player surviving an island of misfit teens? No way. Also, why is Gadya one of the only girl hunters? Are girls in the future not aggressive or into self-preservation? It was frustrating.
Sure, you can put this book under the dystopian category, but it’s missing any deep emotional center that makes dystopian novel bigger/better than just imaging the world-as-we-know-it gone awry. In the end, I’ll forget about this book in a week.