Sunday, 31 March 2013

Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Title: Taken (Taken #1)
Author: Erin Bowman
Release date: April 16th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss

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?

I absolutely loved Taken! It's a very refreshing take on dystopia, and I found the premise incredibly intriguing. Just by reading the blurb, I knew I'd love it. Not to mention the beautiful cover! This book just kept getting better as I read on, and in my opinion, Erin Bowman has written an awesome YA debut.

The boys of Claysoot disappear the moment they turn eighteen, and this is a given. No one questions it, and everyone has accepted it as a norm. But when Gray's brother, Blaine, is Heisted, he can't seem to go on with his life. He finds part of a letter from his deceased mother, written to Blaine, and it hints at a secret about Gray. He needs answers, and he can only find them in one place. He has to climb over the Wall - the structure that keeps everyone in Claysoot inside because of their inherent fear of what lies beyond. But Gray could never have imagined what he actually discovered once he makes it to the other side with Emma, the girl he loves.

Once over the Wall, Gray and Emma find out that Claysoot isn't what they think it is, and their lives are turned upside down. Initially, it's quite hard to follow what's going on, but if you're a dystopian junkie like me, you'll get all of it really fast and you'll love it. On top of that, the thrill you get when all the mysteries are solved and the confusion is cleared is amazing! I think Gray dealt with the overload of knowledge pretty well, considering everything he once knew about his life is false.

I know some people wouldn't agree with me, but I really liked Gray's character. I felt like I could understand him while reading the novel, and that doesn't happen very much with me. What's even more weird is that Taken is from Gray's perspective, so I thought it would be harder to connect with the protagonist if he's a guy. But I could truly empathize with him. Gray is wild and reckless, and I think that's what drew me to him in the first place. He's definitely very different from his brother, Blaine. He's courageous, but flawed. And I think that's great, because I never like it when some main characters in books are portrayed as absolutely perfect. Gray's imperfections make him all the more endearing, and his character did develop a lot over the course of the novel.

Blaine, Gray's brother, looks almost identical to him (except for the eyes), but their personalities are so very contrasting. Blaine is gentle and calm most of the time, and he's wise. He thinks before he acts, and would never do anything rash. Gray depends on Blaine for so much, and Blaine knows that. I think he's really supportive of Gray in the book, and I really feel for him considering the burdens he carries on his shoulders. His relationship with Gray is very easy-going, and I loved reading about their childhood memories together. Even though Blaine is starkly different from Gray personality-wise, they share the same immense courage. Blaine looked his Heist in the face, and didn't show any fear at all when the time came. I really admired that about him, how he tried to reassure Gray at that moment instead of thinking about where he was going or what was going to happen to him.

Emma has been the object of Gray's affections ever since he can remember. But she's never shown anything other than platonic feelings towards him. At least, not until they are made to spend a month together after Blaine's Heist, and she really sees him for who he is. Frankly, I didn't really like Emma in this book. What she does, the decisions she makes... Let's just say I'm not a huge fan of her after that. I did like her in the beginning, though. Emma has a gentle nature, quite like Blaine's, and she's a healer. But she has a surprising amount of bravery in her! She follows Gray over the Wall, even though she knows she wouldn't make it out there for long. Her trust in Gray is amazing at that time. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't mention what she does later on, but I don't know if I want redemption for her.

One character I definitely loved was Bree. Gray meets Bree when he encounters the Rebels, and she knocks him unconscious during their first meeting. Bree is a lot like Gray - wild, rash, and sometimes quite crazy. More so than Gray, actually. Bree is refreshingly honest, and I really liked that, considering the amount of lying in this book. I loved the constant banter and exchange of insults between her and Gray. We also get to see a vulnerable side of Bree for a few moments, and that just made me like her even more. I'm definitely Team Bree in this book, and I doubt that will change in the sequel!

There are so many twists and turns in Taken that I couldn't keep track of them all. At every corner is a surprise waiting to knock you senseless, and you'll be left reeling after every one of them! The unpredictability is one reason I loved this book so much. I never knew what was going to happen, and my heart was in my mouth the entire time. Taken really picked up after Gray and Emma made it over the Wall, and from then on it was just bombs dropping! Not literally, of course. Just that there were a lot of revelations that you'd never see coming.

This book was so much better than I expected! I was drawn in by Gray's blunt and relatable voice, and the overall concept of the book is awesome. Some may say that it evolves into a typical dystopian, but I didn't see that. Mostly because I focused on the uniqueness of the book. With yet another shocking revelation towards the end, I honestly can't wait to read the sequel!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eGalley for review*

Rating: 5/5


  1. I have seen mixed reviews on this but, I am so excited to read it and I am a huge dystopian fan, and anytime I read something that is fresh I get so excited!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  2. I've had my eye on this book for a while so I'm excited to read your review; it makes me even more anxious to get my hands on it. It sounds like something that is right up my alley. Great review!


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