Tag Archives: debut author

Review: The Forsaken

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The Forsaken (The Forsaken, #1)Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse (debut) – Twitter | Author site | Goodreads

Pages: 375

Released: July 10, 2012

Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction

Source: ARC Tour from Jillian Heise (plan to buy!)

Goodreads Summary: As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Alenna has always felt like she doesn’t fit in with the people and world around her, but she is SURE that she doesn’t have any qualities that will cause her to fail the GPPT (Government Personality Profile Test). The test is a way for the government to screen for people who will grow up to be criminals and eliminate them from the U.N.A by sending them to  Prison Island Alpha.

Her school takes a field trip to a museum where they show a live feed from the island…I imagine a kind of “scared straight” tactic. When a boy from the island attempts to communicate with anyone watching, Alenna sees him and feels a “connection” with him (of course). She can’t help wondering what a handsome, well-adjusted looking person is doing on an island where everyone is supposed to be a maniac.

Imagine her surprise when she wakes up from her GPPT test to find herself abandoned on Prison Island Alpha. She finds a boy, David, dropped near-by, and the two of them attempt to find other people on the island. While Alenna thinks she was dropped on the island by mistake, David seems to have a different theory as to who is dropped on the island…and why.

They are attacked by a crew of boys with painted faces and sharpened teeth (think The Lord of the Flies), but Gadya (think Lost) saves them and takes them back to a camp with normal people. And guess who is at the camp? If you guessed pretty-boy-from-the-museum-feed…you’re right! Co-inky-dink!

Alenna tries her best to adapt to life at the camp and decides that instead of sitting by, she is going to take action and get some answers about why she was dropped on the island.

*** *** ***

What I Liked:

I love that Alenna didn’t sit around and whine and moan about why she ended up on the island, but rather jumped right in to the action and daily life in the blue sector camp. When she hears that an expedition is going to explore a way off the island, she volunteers to be part of the group, even having Gadya train her to fight before they leave.

The character of David was intriguing. I could never really tell what side he was on — was he a drone spy or did he truly want to join the camp? Was he telling the truth to Alenna when he said he knows what happened to her parents? Does he know the real reason seemingly sane teens are dumped on the island? DAVID, WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?!

I also liked the fact that the author staged events so that Alenna had to depend on her own strength rather than on Liam. I believe that this truly allowed Alenna to grow as both an inhabitant on the island and a strong female character.

I was shocked when the identity of the Monk (who controls all of the brain-washed drones) is revealed. I thought it was someone completely different!

When I first saw the cover, I really had no idea how it fit in with the story, but after reading? The cover is ah-maze-ing!

What I Didn’t Like:

If I’m reading a book, I would like the character’s names to be easy to pronounce…even if the name is unique. Gadya? Not easy. Especially since the pronunciation (from a sarcastic character in the book) is Gah-DEE-yah. I just pronounced it “GAWD-yah” in my head because it rolled a bit easier…I didn’t have to stop and think about it.

I understand that there apparently MUST be a love interest in every dystopian story. But WHYYYY must there be insta-love between Alenna and Liam when they spent limited time together in the story? Why can’t they just liiike each other for a while and get to know one another without declaring their love? The story didn’t focus on their love story or develop it, which I liked…I wanted the story to focus on their expedition to find a way off the island, and that’s what I got. But don’t just throw around the words “I love you” without developing the relationship.

*** *** ***

I think this was a great dystopian, and I know that readers who like The Hunger Games and Divergent will like this read. I will definitely be buying a copy for my classroom and encouraging my librarian to order a copy for the library!

Enjoy the book trailer below!

Recommend for: dystopian lovers; high school; adventure

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Review: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

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Freshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersTitle: Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters

Author: Meredith Zeitlin

Pages: 288

Released: March 1, 2012 (debut novel)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Source: Public library

Goodreads SummaryKelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.
Things start out great – her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.
Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

This book is written in first-person from Kelsey’s point-of-view, and you can clearly and immediately hear her Typical Adolescent voice calling from the pages. Kelsey’s whole world is soooo unfair — her mother is always in her business (she feels), her little sister gets everything she wants (according to Kelsey), and everyone else has is so much better than her (she thinks).

I love the relationship that she has with her best friends. Even when times were difficult, and they didn’t see eye-to-eye, you could still tell that they all truly cared for and loved one another. Cassidy made me agitated for a while, but I was fine by the end of the novel 🙂

There were quite a few instances when I literally laughed out loud. Poor Kelsey couldn’t seem to catch a break sometimes, and her reactions were just priceless. With her wit and self-deprecating humor, she reminds me of Georgia Nicolson from the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Lousie Rennison.

I think the thing that I enjoyed most was that I could look back on my own high school experience and remember feeling all of the emotions that Kelsey felt. When some of my freshmen next school year read it, I’m hoping that they will see a little of themselves in Kelsey’s story and know that they’re not alone.

 I can’t wait to see more books from Meredith Zeitlin!