Early Review: Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman

April 11, 2013 Review 5 ★★★

Early Review: Taken (Taken #1) by Erin BowmanTaken by Erin Bowman
Series: Taken #1
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Excerpt: Excerpt
Book Trailer: View Trailer
Published by HarperTeen on April 16th 2013
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Reviewed by: Abigail
3 Stars

Sexual content

Kissing. References to sex

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

If you're a big fan of The Hunger Games, but wanted to read a book that featured Gale as the protagonist, you're going to like Gray Weathersby.  Gray, the main character in Erin Bowman's TAKEN, is trapped in a walled town that is impossible to escape from, he hunts for food with a bow, wants to protect his brother at all costs, and is counting down the days until his brother is Heisted and taken from the town forever.

The beginning of TAKEN is pretty fantastic.  As more details are revealed about Claysoot and The Heist, it's impossible not to rage with Gray at the injustice of it all.  The inevitability of a life cut short and an entire town of people beaten down and forced to accept it.  Life is harsh and dictated to ensure the survival of the town.  Love is a foreign concept since all the boys are Heisted at eighteen.  Instead they are added into a rotation and 'Slated' to a different girl each month in order to maintain the population.  Gray has been slated to a few girls, but never the one he secretly wants, the girl who always seems to have smiles for his brother.

That leads me to one of the big flaws in TAKEN: the love triangle.  I personally enjoy a good love triangle.  This wasn't a good one.  Gray's fickle emotions make him come off as a jerk.  He waffles back and forth so many times and in such a short span of time that I lost most the respect that he'd earned in the beginning.  Typically, it's the girl who can't decided between two guys and bounces back forth, but with a guy doing it, it's no less off putting.

The other big problem with TAKEN, which the love triangle suffers from too, is the pacing.  It is was too fast.  There are a lot a big changes that occur in this book that require substantial character shifts.  The problem is that they are so rushed that the believably is severely strained.  Can you imagine the events of The Hunger Games trilogy all smashed into one book?  That's how TAKEN feels.  Really, this book should have been cut into three and adequate room given for the characters to breathe and transform gradually.  As it was, Gray barely had time to process something before he was hurtled into a completely new mindset. It was pretty jarring.

Despite the problematic pacing/character development issues,  I am giving TAKEN a recommendation.  The  beginning starts out as strong as any dystopian I've read, and the premise shares some similarities with The Hunger Games without ripping it off.  Be warned, if you're not a fan of love triangles, you definitely won't enjoy the romance.  And even if you are, this one is tough to swallow.  The second book in the Taken trilogy will be out in 2014.

Series Titles

1. Taken

Similar Titles

  • The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse - 2/5
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

5 Responses to “Early Review: Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman”

  1. Kt.

    I feel exactly the same way. The beginning was so impressive, but it just started to fall apart shortly after that. There was just way too much going on. Also, PS, the guy’s name is Gray, not Clay :)

    • Abigail

      D’oh. I think I was mixing it up because of the town name. Thx for the heads up :)

      And yeah, I’m kinda bummed about the wasted potential here. I usually think a book could benefit from cutting a bunch of pages. This is a rare occasion when it needed to add a few hundred. Still love the beginning though.

  2. Freda Mans

    Okay, so now I’ve read one favorable review, one not-so-favorable review and one middle review. I’m still torn on whether to bother. Time to read more reviews.

  3. pabkins

    I was going to read this one but in a way I’m glad I didn’t. I’m a bit burnt out right now on love triangles.