Can there ever be too much action in any book, let alone a dystopian or apocalyptic one? Unfortunately, after reading The Uprising, the sequel to The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse, I would say the answer is yes. The problem with going from action scene to action scene, or dangerous escape to another dangerous escape, is there isn’t any build up of tension. The book just goes full throttle throughout and it’s actually uncomfortable to read in the same way someone operating at full adrenaline over an extended period of time would feel rather queasy. It’s interesting that the cover blurb on my book says, “Choose a tribe,. Watch your back. And don’t stop running.” That accurately describes the sense of the book as one extended run.
The other issue is fitting so much extended action into the book causes the character development to suffer. In the first book, The Forsaken, we got to know Alenna, an orphan who spent her formative years trying to fit into the UNA society. Quiet and shy, we saw her make friends with the villagers, become a strong warrior and even develop first love in the midst of horrifying circumstances. We see her navigate complicated relationships like her friendship with Gadya, the girl who used to date Alenna’s new love Liam. She also has to negotiate between her new villager friends and David, the boy she landed on the island with, but who is not trusted by anyone except Alenna. These characters and relationship exist in the sequel, but they play second fiddle to the action scenes and no new nuances are created. In a sense the characters have become caricatures.
The question of what side David is on gets hammered throughout the book and the answer becomes obvious well before a telling event. There are other characters like Dr. Barnett, the soldiers at the Artic Base and the island’s travelers who are used as a similar plot device of “what is their intention? Are they good or bad?”
A huge thumbs up to the book cover art, but a big thumbs down to the pacing of the story. Still, I liked the original premise and after investing the time to read the first two in the series, I am sure I will eventually read the next one.