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.
Wow! This book is violent, a little disturbing, and I loved every minute of it! Alenna is a character who is has inner strength and is also resourceful despite not having started out that way. At the beginning of this novel Alenna is content to just keep doing what the government wants and following society's rules despite how she feels on the inside. As soon as she is thrown into the world of The Wheel, we see Alenna dealing with a harsh new reality. The Wheel is a dangerous place where almost anything goes. There is more to it than Alenna realizes and its interesting to see how she copes with her discoveries along the way. I loved the fact that Alenna found romance, even though it happened a little quickly, but the tie-in to Alenna's background was pretty well done. I do want to see Alenna grow more in the next book and become more of a stand out character. This story was pretty fast paced with a lot of action so there was never a dull moment. I'm interested to see what happens next in Alenna's story and how she deals with the revelations at the end of this book. I definitely recommend this novel if you like action and dystopian books.