The Forsaken opens with a prologue. Ten year old Alenna Shawcross witnesses the traumatic event of the police breaking into the family home and dragging her parents off making her a ward of the United Northern Alliance (UNA).
Six years later, Alenna is on a field trip to the Harka Museum, which shows Prison Island Alpha via a camera on the island… where they’re shipped if they fail the Government Personality Profile Test (GPPT) and labelled ‘Unanchored Souls’. The reader is introduced to the background of the UNA and the political climate they live in. The next day, Alenna queues up for the GPPT not even worried about the test expecting to pass having been an obedient member of society – and wakes up on the island.
From the moment Alenna wakes up on the ‘wheel’ the reader experiences the terror and fear of trying to stay alive, to survive. We’re introduced to the warring factions as the drones from The Monk (who appear crazy, drugged and filthy) try to steal her away from Gadya, a hunter from the blue sector. They make it to the village and we’re introduced to their way of life they’ve made for themselves and the roles they play. Alenna realises these people aren’t criminals or insane and so begins the thoughts behind the testing and what it really means. Danger doesn’t only come from the warring factions. There’s the sickness and it’s not long before we find out about the feelers – mechanical arms that come down from the sky and take the prisoners for what purpose nobody knows. We experience a quest with Alenna as a small group head off to the grey area where it’s said the planes arrive and depart.
It’s not all about survival though as jealousies and emotions are also a theme explored in The Forsaken through Gadya, Alenna and Liam. Gadya and Liam have past history, which affects the friendship that Gadya and Alenna form. There are some pretty tense scenes because of this and when you need everyone on your side …
Other interesting concepts are explored briefly when Alenna realises how the drones see them, the villagers – and how The Monk feels about his devotees. Philosophical thoughts!
Alenna is a character that we see grow. Narrated in the first person the reader can identify with her character and her thoughts. Motivated by information she finds out about her parents, she comes through again and again, putting herself into all sorts of jeopardy for others and experiencing intense physical pain. She is a brilliant lead character that pulls the plot together and involves the reader with her questions.
My favourite scene has to be on the ice of the lake. This was so tense with the fighting, hardship and death. It clearly showed the bond between the characters … and there is a big reveal!
When we first set foot on the island, the plot reminded me of the Lord of the Flies. I had also seen The Forsaken compared to The Hunger Games. There are similarities but ultimately, The Forsaken is unique as we become more involved with the plot and the characters. This dystopian world set in 2032 has been so well crafted by the author. I love it! As well as the action which has a fast pace (and is nerve tingling and page turning) there’s intrigue and surprises too. For me, The Forsaken was an engrossing read and a truly brilliant start to a trilogy. There are quite a few scenes that could easily be transferred to a console game and I think it would make an epic movie! Lisa Stasse is a debut author with talent. I can’t wait for the next story in the trilogy.
I would like to thank Orchard for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.