Tuesday, November 20, 2012

REVIEW: The Forsaken

Book: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
Release Date: July 10th, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 375 Pages
Source: Library copy

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.
I read The Forsaken in one night. It was one of those books that you desperately wanted to finish, even though flaws were evident in it. Nonetheless, I went to bed late in the end, too caught up with finishing this book. Continue reading this review to find out what I liked and disliked about this story.

The Romance:
1     2     3     4     5
This scale is different than most. 1 means that there is no romance at all. 5 means this book was a very, very romantic based book. A 3 will be the most common, as YA books surround another plot while dealing with romance too. Below are my thoughts on the romance.

Though in the cover flap, there is a mention of a boy, this book doesn't have that much romance in it. It has some, however, and the chemistry seemed force. At first, when we get a glimpse into Alenna's life in the UNA (United Northern Alliance, made up of USA, Canada, and Mexico), we see her on a field trip to the museum, where she sees a boy on one of the movie screens. From there, she kept thinking about him as she got to The Wheel (the island). She didn't even know him until the next few chapters, yet she had instantly felt a connection to this strange boy. After she met him, she found out his name was Liam and he was the best hunter in the wheel. Not to mention strong. And handsome. And perfect. Cliche yet? If not, Gadya, Alenna's friend, is also Liam's ex-girlfriend... and she still likes him.

Gadya is a hard character to describe. For one, she has some personality issues that I didn't like. She gets jealous easily and also produces an arrogrant aura. But along those lines, she also commands Alenna to stay away from Liam. Which is stupid if you think about it, because she was the one who broke up with him. Anyways, ignoring all of that, Alenna stays away from Liam. For awhile. Yet she still thinks about him and out of nowhere, Liam declares his love for her.

Normally, I'd be rooting for the courageous people. But this time, it's seriously ridiculous. Liam and Alenna have even barely talked before his confession. It seemed out of nowhere and just plain old awkward. And that's not even it. Liam's declaration was weak. He somehow went from seeing Alenna for the third/fourth time in his entire life and went to falling for her hard.

And Alenna. Why did she even like him? I know that Liam is "the greatest warrior" and everything, but she hadn't even known any of this when she saw him in the museum screens. He was a stranger on a TV screen, trying to communicate with the UNA. But apparently, his good looks wiped out the fact she didn't know his name. And then she felt all fluttery around him on the Wheel for no apparent reason; she didn't even know what his personality was like!  

And like I said before, Liam's declaration was weak. Here's basically what happened.
  1. He confesses to Alenna.
  2. He kisses her.
  3. She freaks out.
  4. They agree to be friends.
  5. Like estimating about three days later, Liam decides to make her a guitar.
  6. She is overjoyed and kisses him.
  7. They are kind of dating in secret while Alenna doesn't know what to tell Gadya.
Because seriously? A guitar? If some guy I barely knew made me a guitar, I'd probably awkwardly say thanks and hand it back. She doesn't even think while accepting the gift. And then she kisses him. After she basically promised Gadya she wouldn't like Liam.

I hated this romance. And to sum it up, Liam and Alenna's attraction was pretty much insta-love without meaning.

The Action/ The Adventure:
 1     2     3     4     5
The action scale is pretty obvious and it is just like the romance scale. 1 means there was no action. 5 means there was a lot of action. Whether or not the action was good, I'll tell you below.

But besides me hating the romance, I found myself really enjoying the action part. Alenna ended up on a journey to find out her past and her parents, an admirable adventure. She learns a lot about survival in the process. And then she spends more time thinking of the structure of The Wheel.

To go more into detail of this, The Wheel is an island where the UNA sends kids who will be future criminals based on a high school test they take. Alenna is sent here somehow and she doesn't know much of this new civilization. The Wheel is also divided into 6 sections, with The Monk's tribe owning 4 of them and Alenna's friends owning 1. The other remaining one is the Gray Sector, where there is possibly a way to get off The Wheel...

The adventure truly begins when a group of people from Alenna's tribe passes into the Orange Sector, where the Monk is waiting.

And the Monk. What a character you love to hate but can't hate. The twist that came in the end made me sympathize with him. He wasn't a villain I disliked in the end. In fact, he was horrible in a way, but you will soon learn that there is a reason behind it all...

The Speed:
1     2     3     4     5
The speed scale tells how fast the story goes. For example, if the introduction is boring and the whole book is going at snail pace, it'll probably be a ranking of 1.

The ideal speed for me in a book is 4. That's how fast I would rate this book too. It's not too quick yet provides enough suspense to keep the story going. The beginning, where we get some background info about Alenna, is also nicely done.

The Plot/ The Perspective/ The Storytelling:

1     2     3     4     5
This isn't based on how much action shows up as the book progresses. It is based on the quality of the plot. Sometimes the plot is just unentertaining while others are the on-the-end-of-your-seat suspenseful. This is probably the scale that you should pay the most attention to.

When I first read the summary, I expected something like Uglies by Scott Westerfield.  A girl who ends up in the wild, looking to find her true self. But as I read the beginning, I discover it's a lot like Divergent by Veronica Roth. There's a test..involving a serum...taken when you were in the 16 year old range..supported by the government. But that's where the similarities with Divergent ends. After that, Alenna gets into The Wheel and I find similarities with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The Blue Sector, where Alenna's tribe is, is set into a forest-like place, which I imagine is like The Hunger Games's setting. There is also fighting and death, likewise in The Hunger Games. But then, more of the story passes, and I find out that The Forsaken is getting more unique...until the last few pages of it. There is an explanation of what happened to the start of The Wheel and why it's there. And I won't spoil it, but then it became Divergent by Veronica Roth and I found myself cringing at how the reason of the Wheel is similar to Divergent.

The End:
1     2     3     4     5
This is going to be a limited scale as I don't want to spoil the ending. I promise I won't reveal any secrets, but if you want it to be a complete surprise,  STOP READING.

I am not satisified with the ending. There was this great, amazing, well-written conflict that had me on the edge of the seat and then it just fell flat.

I'm disappointed by the end.

And I don't know how to write this without spoiling it so I'll try my best but the other characters...I felt like they deserved A LOT better than that. Rika and her kindness. David and his loyalty. Even Gadya, who turned out to be an overall okay character, despite being rough in the beginning.

The ending killed me.

The Summary:

There are a lot of good things in this story, as well as bad things. Here, I'll list them out detailedly to help you decide whether you want to read the book or not. Keep in mind that this is my opinion and my opinion only.

The Good Points:

The action of this story is absolutely amazing. I loved the vivid details and ate up the beautiful descriptions. As the characters get into the Gray Sector, you honestly know they're all growing up and getting more mature. The pain of losing others is a prominent part of this story, as well as loyalty to people. David, one of Alenna's friend, was absolutely so nice to her that I wished he wasn't a paper character. I felt like he was even more realistic than Liam, who was supposedly the love interest of Alenna.

The Bad Points:

Like I mentioned before, I couldn't stand the romance. It was so insta-love and so quick that I found it unbelievable. Liam was also gone a huge chunk of the story, but when he got back, it was all like, "hey, it's good to see you again! So I saved you and now I love you. Let's be together!"

So they barely spent any time together and Alenna loves him too.

Ignoring that and knowing that the ending could have been better, it took awhile to get used to Alenna's voice. In the first two chapters, she was constantly on my nerves while being quite arrogant.

She had said a few times that she was sure of doing good on the test and that it must have been a mistake when she got into The Wheel. Yet, as soon as she saw Liam, none of that ever came up again.

So while that is a minor problem, she eventually grows to be a pretty good main character. She is thoughtful of her parents and adventerous while on the journey to the Gray Sector. It just took some time to get used to her.

That was the same way with Gadya, who was a pretty important character in The Forsaken. At first, she was rough and careless, also arrogrant as well. She had shamelessly demanded that Alenna must stay away from Liam. When Gadya had left for the Gray Sector, she didn't bother saying bye to Rika, who was supposedly a good friend.

So all in all, The Forsaken had a rough beginning, suspenseful middle, and disappointing ending for me.

Overall Thoughts:

Pros ---

- The action
- The minor characters' personality (example: Rika, David, etc..)
- There's a lot of suspense
- The Monk was a villain you loved to hate

Cons ---

- Similarity of other dystopian stories
- The ending
- Liam and the insta-love
- took awhile to get used to Gadya and Alenna's voices

Final Rank: 
1     2        4     5

I enjoyed this book. The suspense was what kept me reading and all it took was one night to finish. Alenna was an easy character to like once you got to the middle and past the whole Liam/insta-love thing. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy high-quality action-packed dystopian stories. But overall, I felt like The Forsaken could have been a lot more satisifying and needed more to make it a better story. That's why I thought it deserved a 3/5 stars.

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