Sunday, August 19, 2012
The Forsaken (review)
The Forsaken has a great dystopian idea, a prison island where those who fail a behavior test are sent. That has some of the essential ingredients for a great dystopian : 1. Controlling government 2. Disenfrantized citizenship 3. Lack of control over own life. And the book starts strongly, with the main character going through the test then waking up dazed and confused in the middle of the jungle.
Sound greats right? Unfortunately from there the book just goes wrong. Quickly Alenna, moves into a village where she discovers the "normal" teenagers are doing battle with the "drones," a group of teenagers devoted to someone they call the Monk. Immediately, Alenna is accepted into the core group, involved in important plans, told how pretty she is and flirted with. Totally believable right?
The romance in this novel makes absolutely no sense. It has zero development. The two characters feel a "connection" and then start kissing, even though Alenna has no experiene with boys. Later they discover they knew each other as babies and apparently that's suppose to explain away the insta-love. "Oh I met you when I was one. Falling for you in less than a day makes sense now!" No, it doesn't. Still Insta-love.
None of the friendships or relationships account for the fact they live on island filled with battles and death. There is no accounting for the distrust or inability to build stable relationships that their living situation should cause. Any pyschological effects of living on a prison island where people die daily are glossed over. One guy has nightmares and is mean to prisoners, so apparently that covers all the deep pyschological damage these teenagers should experience.
However that is not even my biggest complaint about this novel. The biggest problem is the best-friend character Gayda. She is so obnoxious and simplified. This character is like INTERNET CAPS LOCK only on a prison island. She's constantly shouting, short-fused with everyone. But she's not a villain, just a sidekick to the main character. She gets angry about Alenna stealing the boy she likes (shocker), their best friend Rika not bidding them farewell (because she was HELPING SICK PEOPLE) and pretty much anything that doesn't go her way.
Alenna, on the other hand, believes everything you tell her. When she first wakes up on the island, there's another prisoner named David. Without any real build-up, she trusts everything he says. Then when she joins the villagers, she trusts them. She never once questions what is happening around her. She just follows along, joining on their "Operation Tiger Strike," even though she is in no way qualified for a military mission. (Luckily they didn't actually have a plan, despite weeks of "planning" and debating).
Overall this book is just sloppy. Sometimes authors have great ideas. Dystopian prison island, yeah! Then they have no idea where to go with that idea. They have a beginning (which was strong) and an end in mind, then they meander through meaningless nonsense to connect the two. The characters are underdeveloped, the world building and science weak, the romance hastily thrown together and the end result is very disappointing.
The only really positive thing I can say, is that the cover is absolutely beautiful. It's graphically interesting and actually connects to the story. Excellent design work, unfortunately gracing a shoddy story.
I received an ARC copy of this book through Southern Book Blogger ARC tours. If you live in the South and haven't joined SBB you should definitely check them out.