Taken by Erin Bowman


“Blaine being gone is kind of like when Ma died, only this time I’m alone for good. I spend the first few days forgetting his absence is permanent. I catch myself looking up from dinner, expecting to find him walking through the door. I feel him moving through the house behind me, but when I twist around, the room is desolate and cold.

About two weeks in, when it begins to feel real and I know he’s not returning. I break down for the first and only time.

Taken was one of those books that took me by surprise. While receiving good word of mouth since its release in April of 2013 I didn’t pick it up until recently. It some ways it reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games, maybe not the game part exactly, but the social change that became more evident in the later books is out in full force in Taken pretty much from the get go. It has a good pace and a story that has lots of potential.

Gray Weathersby is absolutely sure of two things; that he is terrified of losing his brother Blaine to the Heist and that his feelings for Emma, the daughter of the town’s medic, are of a deeper nature than the social expectations surrounding him normally allow someone to foster. Gray lives in a world that is primitive and simple in some ways and yet jarring and harsh in others. Every man disappears on the eve of their eighteenth birthday in Claysoot and so Gray knows that eventually he will be claimed too. Most have accepted this but some risk climbing the stone wall that encircles their community and nearby woodlands to try and escape it. They don’t fare any better however, for they always return as charred corpses. However, as Gray becomes closer to Emma and they begin digging into the past of Claysoot they make a shocking discovery that leads both of them over the wall. What they find is a world they didn’t know existed, including a war being waged between the leader of Taem and the supposed human-experimentalist Harvey Maldoon. Unfortunately, Gray will learn things on this side of the wall can be just as deceiving as they were inside of it.

Bowman certainly knows how to keep a reader hooked. The story plunges ahead and keeps the pace a non-stop ride. The characters are constantly thrown from one scenario into the next and new plot lines, including information essential to understanding the many twists and turns the characters are experiencing, are doled out at suitable intervals to keep the reader guessing, while still ensuring they don’t become frustrated with the constant changes. While this certainly makes for an exciting read, I think the development of the secondary characters may have suffered to keep the novel so fast paced. Gray is written wonderfully and his struggle and emotions can be felt through the words but the more notable secondary ones, while each having distinguishing characteristics, still came across as somewhat hollow and one-dimensional; Blaine is the perfect and well liked one, Emma the good girl but not really, Brie the girl who can hold her own with the boys. Hopefully this will be more of a focus in the second novel and Bowman will give us a better understanding of how the minds of these characters work.

I loved the original idea of Taken, a town that is slowly being depleted as the male population disappears. Bowman created a really interesting society that struggled to adapt to these unstoppable events while still trying to carry on with day to day life. I was a little disappointed that Gray and Emma leave Claysoot so early in the book but the twist at the end, which essentially reveals what the second book will be about, soothed me enough to let that particular downside go for now.

Overall I found Taken to be a fast-paced thriller of a read which left me hankering for the continuation of the story and which directions Bowman might take her characters, especially with the hinted promise of a forthcoming adventure that Bowman leaves her readers with at the conclusion. Thankfully Frozen, the second installment in the series, is due to come out in April of 2014. For those who enjoyed the danger and social upheaval of The Hunger Games series, this is one to read!

Devon – a1000booklife


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