July 10th, 2012 from Simon & Schuster
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.
This book had two things going for it from the start. One, That. Cover. Personally, that image is something that gets more and more interesting every time I see it. After reading the book, I love the cover art even more. I don't think I could ever envision anything as extroadinary, but that cover is a great depiction of what the story is about. And that leads me to number two; the synopsis. I am a huge dystopian fan and I love the description of the book. The terms 'obedient orphan' and 'The Wheel' all had me pushing this book to the top of my TBR pile.
Alenna hasn't had a picture perfect life being an orphan after her parents were arrested and never heard from again. Now at sixteen, she finds herself on Prison Island Alpha in a war between a seemingly peace loving tribe and the Drones. The Drones are ruled by a religious, mask wearing freak who guys by the name, Monk. People fear him and his Drones think he is the be all and end all. The islands views on this man and his cult following were really interesting. One group adores the man, the other absolutely loathes. These kids are smart and know when something smells fishy. Alenna is a smart girl as well. Her relationships with the other villagers, the special boy she can't stop staring at, and the special boy that throws all caution to the wind keep her on her toes.
I appreciated that Stasse didn't hold back from the violence and she didn't shy away from offing main characters. The Wheel is supposed to be the place where these prisoners die suffer and eventually die. The life expectancy is less than two years, and sugar coating prisoner life would have left this story falling short. Fortunately, that didn't happen! Several people die in horrific and unsuspecting ways. People step up as heroes and some just end up being hauled into the sky by flying robots. Yeah...I like those parts.
A little bit of The Hunger Games, and a little bit of The Maze Runner makes this an adventure/dystopian lovers top pick. And that would be me!
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You can find Stasse at her website
You can find the cover artist, Dan Mountford on Flickr
Check out the book trailer: ***IMHO a bit spoilery so watch with caution***