Review : Taken by Erin Bowman

April 15, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Bad Love Triangle, Dystopia, Erin Bowman, Sibling Love 11 ★★★

Taken by Erin Bowman
Series: Taken # 1
Published by HarperTeen on April 26, 2013
Genres: Dystopia
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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?
I was SO excited for Taken.  The awesome cover.  The incredible-sounding synopsis that had my mind reeling at the possibilities.  Maybe my expectations were too high, but the book, while it had its entertaining moments, didn’t quite meet them.  I know I shouldn’t compare every book to The Hunger Games, especially since Suzanne Collins didn’t invent the YA dystopia genre, but it was hard not to think of the Reaping when I hear the term “the Heist.”  Both have more common definitions but sound ominous and sinister when used out of context.  And both accomplish a similar task: culling the ranks of young people in a society.  We know that the Reaping is a form of punishment and crowd control, but what exactly is the Heist?  It must be caused by something either supernatural or man-made.  I hoped that the answer would live up to the premise, but I’m not quite sure that it did.

Gray’s journey to uncover the purpose of the Heist and to find out what lies over the wall is set in motion when he finds a part of a letter from his mother that conveniently ends RIGHT on the important part.  It’s a bit of an eye-rolling moment, and I wish that Bowman had chosen another tactic.  When we find out who is holding the second page of the letter, I was lost.  Why did this person still have this piece of the letter, other than to give the reader a chance to learn the information contained within it?  And why was it separated in the first place?  It was hidden very well, and if the goal was to provide Gray with the necessary clues to discover the mystery of the Heist, then why not provide him with the whole letter?  Of course, the story would have been a lot shorter, but that’s not a great reason.  If I’ve missed something here, please let me know.

The love triangle was both unnecessary and not well-executed.  I did have a preference for one of the girls, but there didn’t seem to be any genuine spark between Gray and either girl.  Love triangles in YA are so prevalent that I wonder if authors are forced to include them.  When they’re well-done, they’re great, but when they’re not, they are a serious detraction from the story.

I feel like I’ve been awfully critical of a book that I’ve rated with three stars.  Despite the flaws, Bowman writes suspense well, and there were plenty of times I was surprised – always a good thing.  I will read the sequel to Taken, perhaps with lowered expectations, and I look forward to seeing where Bowman takes her characters next.

Note – I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.

Review posted at Goodreads


11 Responses to “Review : Taken by Erin Bowman”

  1. Kristen Williams

    I 100% agree with your take on Taken (no pun intended). I rated it 3 stars too. I was very bothered by Gray, nothing about him made me really want him to succeed. I especially did not like how he treated the two ladies in his love triangle. Was not appealing at all. But, the action was interesting, was somewhat unique and I was wondering what caused the Heist. Maybe book 2 will improve on the character development?

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      I originally thought I would rate it 4 stars, but then when I started writing my review, 3 seemed to be more appropriate. Still a book I would recommend, though!

      I do hope for some improvements in the sequel. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.


  2. Nikki R

    Wow… I’m really looking forward to this book, and I’ve really only read very positive reviews so far, so it was interesting to read your thoughts. The things you mention (contrived plot-devices and pointless love triangles) annoy me, as well, so I’ll be interested to see how I view them when I read the book! I’ve pre-ordered it, so it shouldn’t be long now. 🙂

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      You know, I thought I was going to give it a higher rating until I started writing my review. I would still recommend it. I just wouldn’t rave about it. But, I hope you love it, and I’ll look forward to your review!


  3. Bookworm1858

    I definitely could not compare this book to THG-would be so off! It was an okay read but not particularly distinguished in my mind. The best elements are the male voice and cover, in my opinion.

  4. rivie bleu

    Aw, I was excited for this book. I was just wondering about books and their familiar concepts earlier. I mean, do we really know they’ve taken (get it? Lol, I really didn’t see this until I re read what I wrote) parts of other books and said, ooh I like that, I’ll use that in my book, I liked this too, I’ll add it somehow as well. And if this one had been first would we consider the hunger games a copy of it in case the author didn’t get her ideas from it? I was thinking because it seems most books have very similar ideas, I mean I like seeing their worlds and how they come up with new stuff but the main concept feels like it’s the same one. Like they were in a class and their teacher gave them a subject and they had to come up with a story. 3 people get the same subject so their books evolve out of 1 main idea. I’ll go because I’m just rambling now

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