Review: TAKEN by Erin Bowman

Review: TAKEN by Erin Bowman
Taken #1

Written by: Erin Bowman
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: April 16th, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 360
Format: Hardcover
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: 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?

My Thoughts

I was SUPER excited for Taken. That cover is one of my all-time favorites, and the blurb makes it sound so exciting. And it is – I didn’t have any problem being drawn into the story and the action and the suspense. While I was reading it, I really liked it, which is why I’m giving it 3 stars – I did enjoy it! But looking back now, I think I liked it for a couple of specific reasons:

  1. I guessed the gist of the Heist really early on, and that made me feel so smart. :P
  2. The pacing and reveals were very well done. Even having a general idea of what was going on, there was still plenty of suspense with the questions of how/why/who’s involved/who can Gray trust?

The problem, now, is that I’m not reading the book anymore, and I get to look back on it without being a little blinded by the things that kept me engaged while I was reading.

The thing is, once you kind of know what’s going on, the rest of the book becomes a pretty normal dystopian. There were details about the Heist that take time to come to light, and there were some surprising twists, which were great – you’re definitely kept on your toes until the full mystery is uncovered. However, while the details that are revealed are surprising, they’re not terribly interesting, and definitely not mind-blowing – which is what I was expecting from having read the blurb. Overall, the world that’s revealed once Gray crosses the wall is one that I feel like I’ve seen before. So that was disappointing.

Gray himself was okay – I enjoy reading books from the male lead’s perspective, and he was a pretty good narrator, and an interesting character. Some of his actions seemed too not-thought-out, though, to the point where I had no clue why he did some things. And he was often extremely full of himself, which got annoying.

As for the romance… I felt like the love triangle was unnecessary. For the first girl who falls for Gray, Emma, there’s a definite case of insta-love. Gray has loved her his whole life (apparently – I never felt the chemistry), but she wants nothing to do with him – until two days after they start hanging out, he’s suddenly all she wants and she’s willing to risk her life for him. Emma becomes a huge motivator for Gray in the rest of the book. But I never understood Emma’s attachment, and never felt Gray’s. Just not a good combo when she’s supposed to mean so much to him.

On the other hand, I really liked Bree. There was no insta-love there. Honestly, I think Emma could have been left out altogether: If Gray had left Claysoot without starting a relationship with Emma, I feel like the book would have had a much stronger relationship-arc once he met Bree. If he didn’t have Emma to pine over, Gray could have been a lot more interesting; and Gray’s and Bree’s relationship could have been great if he hadn’t been conflicted about Emma. (In other words: Sorry, Emma, you’re not needed here.)

Like I said, I’m giving this one three stars because it kept me engaged while reading, and it was definitely entertaining and exciting. But looking back on it after the high of being involved in the story, there’s definitely a lot that bugged me. A good read, but not great, and definitely not as mind-blowing as the synopsis implies (at least for me). Many people will definitely enjoy this one – if you really get into the plot and action, the love triangle might not be that big an issue; and the mystery will keep a lot of people on the edge of their seats.

5 thoughts on “Review: TAKEN by Erin Bowman

  1. I completely understand, I often feel like this after a book, especially dystopian, they are all SO similar these days.

    And I have to agree, I LOVE the cover!

  2. I agree completely! The romance, and later love triangle, was a problem for me as well. I liked that Gray had been crushing on Emma for a while so it wasn’t insta love on his part, but like you, I didn’t feel the connection between them at all. And then Emma does what she did when they got separated and that pretty much cemented my general dislike of her. Really lovely review!

  3. The cover is what make me want to read this book, but it’s sad that it wasn’t really that good. I’m not a fan of love triangles, but having one guy and two girls instead of the usual might make me want to pick it up later. I’ll keep it in mind. Lovely review :)

  4. Unfortunately, I liked this a lot less than you did, mostly because none of the characters managed to get under my skin, not even Bree, who was the only tolerable one. The worldbuilding too was a bit too burdened, like Bowman tried to do too much and managed to do very little. Still, I’m glad you enjoyed it more than I did and I really see why.
    Lovely review.

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