Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

April 11, 2013 Book Review, Dystopian, Edelweiss, Erin Bowman, HarperTeen, Taken, YA, Young Adult 28

Publication Date: April 16th 2013

From Goodreads:

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?

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Taken has one of those covers that scream, ‘YES YOU MUST READ THIS’! I mean, those colors and the tree and the boy… yep, that’s exactly the type to grab my attention. Imagine my complete delight when the synopsis was able to grab me just the same, making this novel one of my most anticipated reads of 2013. I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to read this early. Unfortunately I have so many mixed thoughts on this book, you may have to bear with me here.

On one hand, there were a lot of cool ideas and elements that made Taken an interesting read. I loved the concept of the Heist we learn about. Boys mysteriously disappear at age 18, leaving the compound they live in, Claysoot, filled with mostly kids and women. This society is met with harsh conditions and how it has adapted to survive was sort of an… interesting aspect of the book. Obviously childbearing is encouraged at a very young age and almost mandated in certain ways otherwise they would die out. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. It’s fascinating in certain ways but also a bit awkward and disturbing to think about. There is no time for love or commitment. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that, right? But the thing about it was, I was completely interested. It felt unique and mysterious which is a huge bonus for a dystopian read. As we learn more about the world outside of Claysoot I must admit my interest waned a little bit. It lost some of that spark that had me glued to the pages, er my nook, wanting to know more.

Our main character, Gray, is dealing with the loss of his brother to the heist but stumbles upon secrets that make him question everything about his life and that of his people. Wanting answers, he makes the decision to search for them, even if it means death. I’m always a fan of boy POV but I wasn’t 100% feeling Gray. Sometimes I felt his emotions were more told than shown, if that makes sense. He was impulsive, not thinking of the results of his decisions and I admired that about him to an extent. You didn’t have to read on and on to figure out what his response would be in reaction to an event, he would just act. There was a time or two this pissed me off and one of those times was at the very beginning of the book when Gray gets in an altercation with a girl. I didn’t really feel this was a necessity to the plot and may have done some harm in making Gray a likable main character, in my opinion.

It was also hard to get a read on where his romantic feelings were. Gray has feelings for Emma from the beginning and at first I liked the progression it was taking. Obviously it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine and of course there were obstacles, but I thought it was a starting point, something to look forward to. But a sort of love triangle develops and I cannot tell you how disappointed I was in this for so many reasons, many of which I cannot say without giving away major spoilers but let’s just say this is not a triangle I am down for. I realize I was never fully given the chance to feel Gray and Emma’s connection before they were torn apart, but I was rooting for them. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t because both of them make some really crappy decisions that left me incredibly stabby. But alas, maybe that’s part of the whole issue with being raised in an environment that didn’t make romantic love a possibility; they had no type of model of how it should be. I don’t know. Again, I’m conflicted.

I hate to sound so negative. I was able to read this quite quickly and follow along with the plot well, making it an overall enjoyable read. Even though all the dystopian elements weren’t my favorite, Claysoot and how it came to be was completely fascinating to me. There is so much more under the surface of this world we meet at the beginning and I’m engaged enough to want to continue with the series.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

28 Responses to “Review: Taken by Erin Bowman”

  1. Genevieve Hayes

    Back when I was a teenager, I read every dystopian novel I could find, but now that everyone’s writing them, they all seem a bit same-ish to me. I’ve got to the point where I only read them if I think they’re going to be something really incredible. Based on your review, I don’t think “Taken” is going to meet that standard. Thanks for the review.
    ~ http://www.murderandangst.com

  2. Natalie Aguirre

    Sorry you didn’t like this more. I really liked it and found the world on both sides of the wall interesting. I did find Gray a bit impulsive too though and was a bit annoyed at his actions in relation to Emma at time. But all in all, this was a page turner for me.

  3. Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

    I agree that the fact that we didn’t get to see much of a connection between Grey and Emma made the whole romance aspect … confusing. I don’t mind books without romance, but if there is a romance, I want it to be believable.

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

  4. starryeyedjen

    STABBY! THAT’S EXACTLY HOW THESE CHARACTERS MADE ME FEEL! I like your counterpoint that maybe the reason their relationship was so effed was because they had no basis for comparison. Still doesn’t mean I like it, but it makes a little more sense that way. Great review. I’m glad it wasn’t a total disappointment for you!

  5. Becca

    I had many of the same issues that you did. I gave this a two-star though. I think the “love-triangle” thing towards the end made Gray extremely unlikable. When I was hoping he would do something that made me fall madly in love with him, he did just the opposite. Loved to hear your take on it. I think the consensus was that Claysoot was awesome, and it sort of drifted away after that.

  6. Lauren Elizabeth

    I’m glad you found enough redeeming qualities in this book to give it three stars. I’m really torn over whether to continue it. The love triangle sounds like it would annoy me, and Gray doesn’t seem very likable or relatable. I might give it a try still, but I’ve lowered my expectations considerably. I appreciate your honest, thoughtful review!

  7. lilybloombooks

    I’ve been seeing mixed reviews about this all over the web. It honestly wasn’t one that grabbed my attention right away. Great Review 🙂

  8. Beneath the Moon and Stars

    Sad to see you were disappointed! I thought this had on,y positive reviews but I’ve been seeing more and more mixed feelings. I plan on checking this one out soon! I’m hoping I enjoy it! Great review <3

    Jasmine

  9. Kate @ Ex Libris

    I thought the world building and idea behind Claysoot was really interesting. I liked this book, but I think I’ll wait for book two to really make a decision on how I feel about the story, overall….

  10. Born Bookish

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sara!! Not so sure I want to read this one anymore, but if I do I’ll have a better idea of what I’m getting into. I’m not usually a fan of the male POV and Gray sounds pretty unlikable =/

  11. Wendy Darling

    Oh gosh, I ended up being so disappointed in this book, too. It wasn’t awful or anything, but it was certainly hampered by the fact that I predicted the twist from the very first chapter–and like you, I was confused by the romantic entanglements, too. I’m very curious what people will think about this once more have had a chance to read it.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. Lisa Smith

    I have a feeling a lot of people are going to feel that way, about this book. I still think it’s interesting to read about someone who has never had the time to “love” someone else. Gray has never seen real love, if he lives in a community where having babies is the most important thing. I also think a lot more people will like the second book, because maybe Gray will learn to love, and to let himself be loved. I think it’s quite interesting! Anyways awesome review!

    Lisa
    turningpages94.blogspot.com

  13. Vivien

    I’ve read SO many disappointed reviews for this book. I’m almost terrified to start it!! I have a feeling I’ll feel much like the masses but I still want to give this one a chance.

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