Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

11 January, 2013 Reviews 17 comments

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Taken by Erin BowmanTaken by Erin Bowman
Series: Taken #1
Published by HarperTeen on 16th April 2013
Pages: 353
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Format: eBook
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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?

Taken is a really hard book for me to review because, first of all, it wasn’t really a bad book – it just wasn’t a book that I, personally, got. Also, Erin Bowman is simply delightful on twitter and a lot of fun to follow, so if you’re not already, then I highly suggest you do!

So I really wanted to like this one, but I just didn’t and the more I think about it, the less I like it. For me, the biggest problem was Gray, whose head we experience the world in. If you don’t like a protagonist in a novel that is narrated in the first person then that’s an immediate problem – one that is probably highly dependent on the individual reading. Gray just didn’t feel like a real character to me. It was hard to explain exactly what it was I didn’t like about his personality, but when I made a list of Gray’s characteristics: Angry, impulsive, curious – and realized that was all I could say about him, I figured that was a pretty good indication.

Actually, the focus on the novel really is largely on the characters, which was unfortunate for me because I simply couldn’t connect to them. I couldn’t really name my favourite other than a slightly more preferential nod toward Bree. But the others tended to fall under a giant banner of Meh from which none of the actions of plot developments could rescue them.

The world building was interesting, and is at least certainly different, though a little M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village for my taste. FULL OF TWISTS MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But, having said that, at least the world building was interesting. What I did find intriguing is the number of typos. And, yes, it is an ARC so I expect they’ll all be fixed up by the time Taken goes to print. I’m just still not used to seeing that many typos in an ARC. My only real issue with the writing was how often it turned from an engaged narration to a reflective one.

And not that that’s bad because different tones represent different kinds of story telling, but it would spend a lot of time in reflective mode which involved a lot of summarizing and musing which kind of stalled it up a bit. When I would have liked to have seen these things, even briefly rather than just hear about them. Particularly at the end where it felt like the reflective tone started just a little too early and spent an inordinately long time wrapping up events that would probably have been better off not being consigned to a summary of their happenings.

Also, and this is really weird to complain about but… but… GRAY HITS A GIRL! Like just punches her in the face. Now can I mention that she was being a horrible, nasty person. And my feminist instincts would say that if you’re an equal opportunity douche, then you maybe can get an equal opportunity punch in the face. But… But… DUDE!

She does slog him a good one back, but the thing is, most women can’t hit anywhere near as hard as a man can. So hitting kind of takes it into unfair territory. I know Gray is impulsive and angry and that takes up 2 out of 3 of his personality traits – but wasn’t there a better way to show this than beating up on some girl and putting her in the medical bay?

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

17 Responses to “Review: Taken by Erin Bowman”

  1. cynicalsapphire

    Uh oh. I’m reading this soon. Will I agree with you or Blythe? I’m sure everyone’s on the edge of their seats with anticipation, right?

  2. annethought

    I’m sorry this came up short. Hoping they fix the typos and all the mistakes soon. I can’t wait for this to come out. 🙂

  3. jarndt08

    I am so excited for this one but I am realizing that I need to lower my expectations a bit. Gary doesn’t sound like the most interesting character and hitting a girl is never ok. I hope I have better luck with this one. Great review, Kat!

  4. NatalieAguirre

    I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ll have to see what I think once I get an ARC.

  5. Renae M

    Uh-oh! It’s always super difficult, I feel, when a book is highly character focused but for whatever reason (whether it be the author’s fault or a simple personality clash) you can’t connect with those characters. Gray sounds sadly two-dimensional, and slightly boring. And when the whole plot is riding on the reader’s ability to connect with him, that’s no good.

  6. Kara_M

    Sorry you didn’t like this more, Kat. I really love the cover on this one and I won a pre-order of this in a giveaway from Alluring Reads so I am hoping my experience with it is better, but you have helped lower my expectations a little which is always good. Now maybe I won’t be so letdown if it doesn’t work for me.

  7. Kara_M

    Sorry you didn’t like this more, Kat. I really love the cover on this one and I won a pre-order of this in a giveaway from Alluring Reads so I am hoping my experience with it is better, but you have helped lower my expectations a little which is always good. Now maybe I won’t be so letdown if it doesn’t work for me.

  8. Hermyoni

    I just started reading this one. I’m hoping my experience goes better but now maybe I’ll lower my expectations a bit.

  9. xbooksmartie

    Hi! Good to know you didn’t like this book…I considererd buying it when it comes out, but doubted I’d like it because the premise doesn’t appeal to me that much. Now I will definitely wait for some more reviews, but I’m pretty sure I won’t read Taken.

  10. Abigail_ATUF

    I had similar issues with this one.  Too bad because I thought the beginning was awesome.

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