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Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman

Taken (Taken #1)
by Erin Bowman
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Format: Hardback, 360pgs.
Published: April 16th, 2013 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi dystopian

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"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?"


“Aren’t I proof that there is something greater at work?” (74)

In the little town of Claysoot, boys are disappearing as they turn eighteen in what is called a “Heist.” Gray, who has just lost his brother to this phenomenon wants answers and so he takes it upon himself to travel beyond the wall, despite it’s unknown dangers. In a series of ensuing events, Gray discovers more and more about this strange society, but will he ever get the answers to all these questions before him?

“I want the truth the way I crave to breathe. It is subconscious and it plagues me.” (53)

Be forewarned, this may contain spoilers.
I must say, I really loved the original concept that I believed this book would have. It’s labeled a science-fiction book, so I was in for quite a ride. While I liked the idea of the book, it didn’t quite play through the way I expected it to. Perhaps I just had high expectations. For starters, right off the bat I felt a wind of strong depression from the main character as he expressed how much everyone loved his brother, and really didn’t like him; he kept going on about how much better his brother Blaine is at everything, and how all he does is get in the way or does the wrong thing, and how everyone will miss Blaine but they probably wouldn’t miss him after his Heist. Next up, (after Gray goes beyond the wall,) I felt a lot of similarities between other young adult dystopian books going on. I was quickly reminded of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, and even Mila 2.0! This was quite disappointing to me as it took away a lot of the originality I thought this book had. Apparently birds have to be included in young adult dystopian novels or else the readers can’t understand the need for freedom in a wronged society. Something else that I realized very quick was how the timing of events became a little bit too perfect, thus making it feel too unrealistic. Everything that happened to Gray was extremely convenient for him. Emma, who despised him suddenly does a 180 and falls madly in love with him in one day; Taem just so happens to get attacked the next day Gray and Emma arrive, and as soon as Gray is looking for a way to escape; the rebels attack as soon as Gray is about to be executed in the Taem camp again; Bree who doesn’t like Gray also does a 180 and falls in love with him. This also demonstrates some weird unnecessary love triangle, in which Gray suddenly becomes irresistible to everyone. What I’ve also realized while reading was how predictable everything seemed to be, although this may be related to the aforementioned books this novel shares similarities to. For example, I found it odd that Frank explains that when Harvey harvests people from Claysoot they end up in Taem unexpectedly... seriously!? That should have been clue number one for Gray, I mean why on earth would a villain want to beam people up only to send them to his enemies? That made no sense, and in that reasoning, made complete sense in the predictability of the book. Also, you know the main character isn’t going to die... I mean it’s a series, and this is book one, so the “suspense” we’re suppose to feel with the many dangerous situations Gray gets into, isn’t really fulfilled. As I said before, the love triangle is weird, so I really could care less about whatever Emma and Bree get into. I do, however, like Blaine, as well as the boys’ father; I’ll admit for a while I thought Blaine would be a forgery, until he mentioned his concern for his daughter, Kale, which shot that theory down because as the book mentions, forgeries cannot feel love.

“People have all sorts of pasts, sometimes dark or dreary, but perhaps the actions they choose in the present are the ones that carry the most weight.” (241)

Taking all I’ve said that detracts from the book away, we’re left with the bare bones of the book which is a wonderful idea. Men disappear from a town when they turn eighteen and nobody knows why. In structuring the book, I honestly would’ve liked to spend more time in Claysoot, with the mystery of everything. You know, get to know more about the people, it’s politics, how the town ticks. Instead we’re taken out and thrown almost immediately over the wall with Gray and Emma. The writing is good, in that it’s very easy to comprehend what the author is trying to say, and how she wants her characters to come across. It’s also a fast read, so if you’re looking for something light, this is a good book to pass the time. If I consider reading the next book in this series, I greatly hope that it will not be like the end of Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) in which everyone went to look for District 13, because that is seriously exactly where this book looks to be going. I dearly hope I’m proven wrong.

First Line: “Today is the last day I will see my brother.” (3)

Last Line: “He tails us for a while, overseeing our hopeful caravan and our boot prints, which leave soft impressions in the shallow snow as we head west.” (360)


“There are a lot of other things that could fill the silence, but they’d all be meaningless.” (12)

“I have one year until I’m eighteen and no one to even share it with.” (31)

“‘If birds pick one mate for life, why can’t we?’” (47)

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