Review Blog

Sep 26 2012

The Forsaken by Lisa M Stasse

cover image

Orchard Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781408318805.
(Age: 14+) With an embedded sticker proclaiming, 'If you love The Hunger Games read this!', The Forsaken is very clear about its target audience.
We are in a future world where North America has joined with Canada and Mexico to form a United Northern Alliance (UNA) ruled by a benevolent dictator, Minister Harka. The action soon kicks in; we are given a brief glimpse of a controlling society before being told that once a year, young people of 16 are given a test. If they fail they are relocated to an island, ostensibly a gaol, called Prison Island Alpha. In only a couple more pages our seemingly placid and cooperative protagonist is whisked off to the prison and must survive by her wits alone.
Alenna is a thoughtful narrator. We have access to her every doubt, suspicion, and triumph. It sometimes seemed too much was being explained, analysed, and explored. The plot could have been tighter, although I appreciate some teenagers enjoy extra details and more explanation .
Mysteries are set in place, enemies and friends abound, and the reckless but undeniably attractive Liam seems to have a connection with Alenna she finds hard to resist. Many of the secondary characters struggle to develop authentically. Gadya, the girl who saves and befriends Alenna, is a moody thing - often in turns angry, snarky, then friendly, and of course jealous of the growing friendship between Alenna and Liam. Stasse has no qualms about killing off characters we've come to know, which is meant to make Alenna's situation more dangerous and tense, but ends up seeming unnecessarily violent. Kids appear and disappear, motives are muddled and unresolved, and the big reveal is less than impressive.
The Forsaken sets itself up for a sequel, maybe even more. I'm not sure who will read it. It's a little too cerebral for action fans, and a little too action packed for romance fans. I'm not sure it knows what it wants to be. Themes include resistance movements, dystopian governments, and orphans.
Trisha Buckley

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Book Week 2017 ideas - Escape to Everywhere
Speech Pathology shortlist 2017
2017 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals
2017 Branford Boase Award
2017 UKLA Book Awards
Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2017
10th UK Waterstones Children's Laureate
UK Children's Book Award 2017
Laugh Out Loud Awards 2017 shortlist
2017 Locus Awards Winners
Environment Award for Children's Literature shortlist
Miles Franklin longlist 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Bookmark and poster templates