Tessa's Blog

My two best friends and I are extreme book nerds. Especially for YA books. Since we are viewed as weird in the real world, we decided to go to the Internet, where everyone is weird. It has been going pretty well. Our original blog is Crazy for YA

Taken

Taken - Erin Bowman My interested in this book was taken away by the end of the second chapter. Of course, being the stubborn human I am, I continued to read the book in the hope that it would redeem itself, but my frustration was overwhelming and kept me from fully enjoying the unique premise.


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Due to the bizarre nature of this book, the best way to summarize it is the blurb from the inside cover.



"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 starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the 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?"




Initially, I thought it was about aliens or some other science fiction phenomenon that is a staple in YA fiction. I could not have been more wrong.



Taken is a stereotypical futuristic story that is supposed to be full of mystery but is as transparent as glass. The "mysteries" can easily be figured out, but for those who are "slower" the best friend/sidekick/girlfriend explains everything for you. Honestly, that took away the small feeling of accomplishment I had for being smarter than Gray, the main character (which is not really that difficult).



So many different themes were touched upon, but never fully explained, like the idea of a town raised by underage fathers and single mothers. I felt that Bowman could have elaborated on that theme and made the book more emotional rather than just one "mystery" after another. Blaine and Gray's relationship was also glossed over. They basically shrugged their shoulders at the "big revelation" that was supposed to rock their world. Honestly, if a character does not care, I am definitely not going to.



The (only) part I liked was Bowman's insightful one-liners.



“Second chances are not the same as forgiveness.”

“Everything's simpler without constraints.”

“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.”




But these short snippets of thoughtfulness could not make up for the characters. Gray was a self-centered, aggressive, and an impossible-to-like main character. He literally punched a girl in the first chapter. How am I supposed to like him?



Emma was better than Gray and my favorite character for the first part of the book. She is the smart sidekick, similar to every other stereotypical female secondary character. She did a relatively good job of balancing out the stupidity of the main character. On the other hand, she completely fell apart in the second half of the book.



Overall, this book might pass for fans of sci-fi, but the plot is predictable and slightly cliché.
This review and many others are posted on my blog, Crazy for YA