Published: July 10, 2012Publisher: Simon & SchusterPages: 375Received: from author for honest reviewAs 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.
I had seen this book mentioned around the web quite a few times, but hadn't actually decided if I was up to reading it or not. Then I was contacted directly by the author to see if I would be interested in a review copy and decided that after reading the synopsis that it sounded really good. I'm glad I gave it a try as it turned out to be an interesting story.
I loved the idea of a society of prisoners fighting back, especially a society of teenagers working towards the common goal of obtaining freedom. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to wake up on an island of savage teens, wild flora and fauna, and learning that you pretty much have to learn survival skills as you go. I'm sure I would not make it through most of what these young adults deal with on this island.
The world you knew has changed - you felt safe in your non-traditionally run nation, but really you were never safe, you just didn't know it. Being taken to The Wheel is probably the one thing Alenna didn't think would happen to her, but when it does she begins to grow and change. She becomes a stronger person, she learns so much about herself and what she is capable of and she sees the world in a new way. Her new found strength comes from finding a great new friend, Gadya, who believes in her and teaches her to defend herself. Gadya gives her the power to take care of herself and others. Rika teaches her compassion, generosity and kindness. David teaches her to think about everything before believing what you see - things are not always what they seem. And Liam teaches her about love.
Island Alpha (The Wheel) is pretty terrible and many of the teens have become savages under the rule of The Monk. It's like a gigantic war going on between the drones and the normal kids. There are scenes that are pretty gory and reminded me of some of the fight scenes in The Hunger Games, though this story is unique enough to not be completely compared to it. It's more like survival of the fittest - like Lord of the Flies. Alenna and her gang are determined to make it off the island and find a way to be back in the real world again. It's a very faced paced story and one that I will be recommending to fans of YA dystopian books.
Reviews by other bloggers:
Also - Lisa M. Stasse stopped by my blog this past week to be a part of my Deserted Island feature - so check out her bookish choices and what other items she would want with her if she were stuck on an island.
About the author:
Lisa M. Stasse was born in New York, and has since lived in Spain, Russia, Hawaii, and North Carolina. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government and English lit, and is currently a digital librarian at UCLA. Lisa loves watching science fiction movies, cooking Spanish food, and dancing around her house to 80′s music. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two-year-old daughter. All three of them are learning how to surf.