Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Pages: July 10th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Author sent for honest review
Description: 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.
I Give This ...
I admit, this book didn't really get a second glance from me at first. But, I really love working with author's directly. And Lisa, was awesome to work with!
I was unsure of our lead character Alenna at first. It seems in most dystopians, our lead is always unhappy with the government and ready to rebel with a little push. Alenna is actually quite happy to coast along and fly under the radar. She so convinced that she will pass the test, that it never occurs to her that she might fail. In fact, when she wakes up on the wheel after the test, she's convinced that there has to be some mistake. She's determined to survive even though she has no idea how or wear to begin. It's here that her character really begins to blossom. She's wants to prove to the band of teens who have to taken her that she can pull her own weight. They may be in control of a small part of the island and are are in constant battle with the "cult" that controls the rest, but Alenna feels the most at home here. She also quickly learns that they might also be here best chance to get off the wheel.
This clan is constantly sending out tracking parties to get a better lay of the wheel and possibly a way off. They've discovered a "gray" area that they believe is used to brings the teens in by plane. They must discover a way to enter the area (though enemy territory) and cross it to find a way off. This whole entire journey was intense and well played out.
The world building is really great in this book. I enjoyed the little view we get of the U.N.A. and the powers that control it. The wheel reminded me a little bit of the arena in The Hunger Games, but it definitely had it's own thing to it. What ddin't really work for me was how instantly Alenna fit into this group. Within days she had befriended the only female warrier, the lead tracker/hunter, and the leaders of the group. It's like they were waiting just for her to arrive. I also had a hard time with the dialog. Sometimes it was simple and very repetitive. I can't tell you how many time I heard that Alenna never fit in at home, and how so many of the other kids felt the same. I also disliked the romance. I think the story would have worked better without it, but it seems you can't find YA that doesn't contain it in some form or another.
The ending was not what I was expecting, so I'm really curious as to what happens next. I'll be looking for the next books!