Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Taken by Erin Bowman
Book One of the Taken series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (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?

What I Liked:

Taken was easily one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013. I have known about Taken's release before it had a cover or a synopsis, because more than a year ago, I discovered the Friday the Thirteeners blog. I had a feeling that I would really like this book. I had read plenty of dystopian novels, but this one had a unique premise, and eventually, a beautiful cover.

Sadly, I was bitterly disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high, but this book did not deliver. The beautiful cover was a lure that I fell for, but the synopsis, the premise - I couldn't believe they let me down! I got this book from Edelweiss a month before the release date, but I also pre-ordered this book without reading the book. I don't necessarily regret doing this (hey, I got my book signed last week!), but it's sad when I pre-order a book and don't like it as much as I expected.

As I said before, I loved the premise and cover of this book. I was intrigued by the idea of being a male and being heisted one your eighteenth birthday. I knew that it wouldn't be Gray that would be heisted to set the plot in motion, but a friend of family member. 

I also loved that this book is written completely in a male's point-of-view. I don't like first person, but most YA books are in first person, and it was refreshing to read from a male's point-of-view, even if it was in first person. I think Ms. Bowman did an excellent job of crafting Gray's personality, and it showed in his thoughts and perceptions.

There IS a love triangle (boo!), but I really like one love interest over the other. It's quite obvious which girl has a brain and which one tends not to use her brain. I hope that Gray sticks to his guts and does NOT give the other love interest a chance. But of course, Gray is "confused", so we as readers won't find out until the end of the series, I suppose.

The plot is interesting, and somewhat engaging, but I found it very predictable (see below). I sort of couldn't wait to finish the book, and not to find out what was going to happen (because I basically knew what would happen), but just so that it would be over. I think the pacing of the plot was pretty good, but again, the plot was predictable.

What I Did Not Like:

The plot is a large part of my dislike for this book. Let me start with Claysoot and the mystery of the heists and the wall. Here's the thing: once we start getting into the story, after a major heist of a person very close to Gray, we can see what is going to happen. To me, it was obvious what Gray was going to do. He got a tiny push from his dead mother, and there he went. Predictable.

The next few paragraph MAY have general spoilers. I mention no specific scenes or names, but I do mention general plot devices and twists that I noticed in more than one book.

So, after Gray initiates his journey, he discovers a dystopia-like society, and all of the mysteries of the heists, the wall, Claysoot, the heisted boys... everything is discovered. This happens VERY quickly into the book. After the big mysteries are divulged, my interest dwindled. As soon as we find out what is really going on with the heists, this novel became just like any other dystopian novel. Predictable.

There is a bad guy who thinks he's the good guy. This guy tries to make another guy look bad, when in reality, that second guy is the good guy, and the original guy is the bad guy. Everyone is on the lookout for the "bad guy", who is actually the good guy. Predictable.

There is a rebel settlement. Gray has to interact with them somehow. He meets a second girl, finishing the love triangle. They have to confront the bad guy. Someone major has to die. They have to find the other rebels. Predictable, predictable, predictable. 

So, the plot was predictable. And my interest sort of went out of the window when the big mystery. 

I also HATED one of the love interests. I mentioned above that I liked one of them. But the other? From the beginning, I knew that she couldn't be the girl for Gray. For one, she was in love with a previously heisted boy. She didn't really love Gray, in my opinion, despite her thinking that she does. She does something awful and hurtful to Gray (indirectly), and in my opinion, she can just stay where she was. Gray should have left her there, in my opinion.

I'm still confused as to what it was that was killing people who tried to climb the wall, to escape the heist (not a spoiler, I promise!). I know it was touched upon, but no clear explanation was given. Perhaps it is something I can hope for in future books.

So, future books. Will I read them? Yes. That's one of the reasons why I stuck with three stars, instead of two stars. I'm interested enough to read Frozen, and book three. And I love Erin, so I'm more than willing to give the remaining books in this series a chance.

Would I Recommend It:

Kind of, but not really. If you are sick of dystopian novels, then don't bother with this one. After about one fifth of the book, it's just like any other dystopian novel out there (the only big difference being that this book is in a male's point-of-view). If you own this book, or have an ARC or eARC of checked it out of the library already, then I would give it a try. Otherwise, I'd say skip it.


3 stars. I really wish I liked this one more, but it didn't meet my high expectations, or even my regular expectations for a book.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. You're not the first person I know who was disappointed with this book, but I still want to try it! Not anytime soon, though. Awesome review!

    - Kazhy @ My Library in the Making

    1. I'm so sad because I totally wanted to love this book! That's one of the reasons why I gave it three and not two stars. I hope you like it more than me, Kazhy!

  2. Such a shame when you're eagerly anticipating something and it doesn't match up - I hate it when that happens! I've seen this around quite a lot but I hadn't really looked into it properly. Like you said, the premise does sound great so I will probably check it out from my library at some point, probably because of the male point of view! Great review though, sorry you didn't like it more!

    1. Right?! I was expecting to be blown away! I hope that if you do get to read it, you like it more than me! Thank you!

  3. I was really excited for this book because it sounded so interesting, but I'm definitely not as interested anymore, it just seems like a lot of people had the same issues with this one. Sorry it didn't work out like you were expecting! Though I will say it is cool that this one is from a male's perspective, definitely something different.

    1. I know what you mean, Andrea, I was one of those people that were so excited! If you do decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it! I liked the male POV twist :D

  4. I am sad that this did not meet expectations, as I certainly like the premise. However, I am glad to know ahead of time as it is on the higher end of the price range and have it on my wishlist. Would much rather take a chance on multiple less expensive reads :) Thank you for sharing.

    1. It is sad, Denise, and I totally know what you mean. Reading isn't always cheap, with the amount of books available! My pleasure, Denise!

  5. I also was super excited to read this one and was really disappointed after the first 100 pages or so. I wound up DNF'ing it finally after I realized that I really didn't care what happened next. It really did have a great cover and synopsis but just didn't deliver for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Awww, I'm sorry! I might have done the same, except I have never DNF'd a book, and I didn't want to start here. But I understand why you did!

      My pleasure, Erika!

  6. Great review aww sorry to hear Taken did not meet your expectations I am going to try this book out though to see if I like it I already now what it is about because there was a review that spoil it for me but I am going to check it out in the library first like you recommended thanks for sharing Alyssa

    1. It didn't :\ But I'm glad that you are going to read this one anyway! I suppose it's worth the read. Thank YOU, Katiria!

  7. It is too bad that the mystery is so predictable. I still plan on reading it but I'll have my hopes set lower!


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