Monday, November 5, 2012

The Forsaken, by Lisa M. Strasse (fiction) - teens on prison island, survival at any cost

book cover of The Forsaken by Lisa M Strasse published by Simon Schuster
Her parents torn away from her,
Easier to pretend she's always been an orphan.
Government mind drugs don't work on her.
Keeps her head down, keeps quiet.

The government-mandated brain scan shows that she has  tendencies toward anti-social behavior and criminal violence, so 16-year-old Alanna Fanshawe is no more. All mention of her is erased from official records of the UNA, the chaotic nation founded by force when the food crisis hit Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Forsaken  evokes reflections of The Hunger Games, similarities with Lord of the Flies, and echoes of 1984, yet is truly its own dystopian world.

Grab this first book in the Forsaken series now at your local library or independent bookstore. Who knows how long Alanna will survive feral hoofer boars, manipulative leaders, and attacking drones on the prison island?

Book info: The Forsaken (Forsaken, book 1)  / Lisa M. Strasse. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.  [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation:  Banished to the Wheel?! Alanna was sure she’d pass the government test that weeds out subversives, but she failed. Now she’ll be deported to a remote island, into a savage world of other teen misfits where few survive.

When she was ten, her parents were dragged away by United Northern Alliance soldiers for quietly questioning the new government’s policies. After six years in UNA orphanage with so many others, Alanna has learned to ignore her implanted earpiece’s constant propaganda and the prescribed thought pills, just going along quietly, not making trouble.

But the Test brain scan shows that she has “criminal tendencies” so she’s whisked away to Prison Island Alpha, where the life expectancy is 18 – no overcrowding, no chance of escape, no hope of ever finding her parents now. 

Alanna and new friend David try to avoid wild animals as they search for a rumored settlement. Suddenly they find themselves in a war zone, since they were dumped into an area being disputed between the villagers and the Monk’s followers. Soon this city girl must learn to fight, to track through the tropical forest, to trust (or not trust) the village leaders. Avoiding the drugged-up “drones” who blindly follow the masked Monk is survival priority one.

Why is the mysterious Monk controlling his follower-drones like throwaway toys? What secrets are the village leaders hiding? Why did the UNA abandon so many kids who are as normal as their classmates? How long will Alanna survive on the Wheel? 

This compelling book leaves questions in the reader’s mind about how much a government should control its citizens and how far someone would go to defend their freedom to think, their family, their very life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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