Why I picked up The Forsaken: the cover was beautiful and complex and I didn’t understand it. What I think after reading the book: the cover is still beautiful and complex and I still don’t understand it. The premise of the book was unique and interesting, but the characters and their relationships were too mercurial for my liking. The ending hints at an exciting journey ahead, and I still want to read the next book (a good sign?).
Sixteen-year-old Alenna Shawcross is an orphan living in the United Northern Alliance, the unification of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico that is now ruled by a dictatorship. Her parents were brutally taken away by the police when Alenna was just a child, and she’s always felt somewhat different from the other kids... but she didn’t expect to fail the Government Personality Profile Test (GPPT) which tests for criminal tendencies. When she does, Alenna ends up on Prison Island Alpha – or The Wheel – where all GPPT failures get sent, and as she tries to adapt to the primitive society on The Wheel, she discovers that a powerful entity named the Monk has taken over the majority of The Wheel and everyone is at war. In the midst of it all, Alenna and her new friends Gadya (a headstrong warrior girl), Liam (the blue-eyed, smoldering hot warrior boy), David (who landed on The Wheel the same time Alenna did), and others make plans to escape The Wheel before the Monk overruns everything. But they soon discover that there’s more to The Wheel than it seems.
Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the characters in The Forsaken at all, mostly due to the copious amount of mood-swinging that goes on. Alenna and Gadya, who are very different from each other, become friends then enemies then friends again – a relationship too complicated for the term “frenemies” to encompass. Gadya seems to be PMSing throughout the entire story because she would hate on Alenna one second, and decide to like her again the next. Aaaand their mood-swinging is greatly influenced by Liam, the testosterone of the show.
And by god, does this “thing” between Alenna and Liam move fast! It’s more like insta-relationship than insta-love; the two actually talk, go on a
walk in the woods date, have their first kiss, give handmade (playable!) guitars to each other, and proclaim their love for each other all in the span of a few chapters. I think if all these emotional and relationship roller-coasters were spread out more through the book, the characters and their interactions with each other would have felt slightly more normal. But as they are now, Alenna and company just come off as silly, irresponsible, and confusing.
Now that I’ve torn apart the characters, I’m glad to say that I think the storyline itself fares better. The Forsaken starts off strong with a forceful, attention-grabbing introduction that builds the basic foundation of the story. The plot twists are exciting and enlightening, and by the end of it all, many questions are answered, even though many more are left unresolved (so slightly cliffhanger-y?). I was a bit unsatisfied by the last half of the story though, because it felt slower and lacked drive compared to the first half. But the ending definitely made me curious about how the story will move forward, and I see a lot of potential with how Stasse ended The Forsaken.
Overall, The Forsaken is the tip of the iceberg of what looks like a long dystopian adventure. I’m not a fan of the characters, but the premise and the plot will probably keep me going. If you’re a fan of dystopian series, insta-relationships, or action, The Forsaken might be your thing.