ARC Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Posted March 28, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

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

ARC Book Review: Taken by Erin BowmanTaken by Erin Bowman
Series: Taken #1
Published by HarperTeen on April 16th, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
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?

2.5 Stars

Taken can best be described as The Hunger Games meets The Maze Runner. I know it’s typical to compare any dystopian novel to The Hunger Games, but reading this one really gave me the same kind of vibe (maybe not so much as the first book, but the overall series for sure). Well, I obviously love The Hunger Games, yet I eventually gave up on The Maze Runner (the series). Aptly, my feelings for Taken lie somewhere in the middle.

The plot is Taken‘s saving grace. Super intriguing. And action-packed. Most of the novel consists of a pattern of action-revelations-twist. It may have been a bit much, and certain sections clearly could have used more development, however, the story really kept me on the edge of my seat, with questions I was dying to have answered.

The world building, however, could have been improved. In fact, most of the world building is done in info dumps in these revelations sections I mentioned. I wish that was better integrated in the story. I wish it were more showing, not telling. And I wish some of it would just make sense – like, that music is banned in the dystopic society. I’m sorry, what? How does that fit into the mentality of the regime? I just don’t get it. It seems like there are a lot of banned things and rules that aren’t fully developed into a way of thinking that explains the regime. Ultimately, that’s what I hope to glean from dystopian novels. (But hey, maybe that’ll be explained in the sequels.)

So. There’s instalove. I know, you’re all *headdesk*ing right now. And let me make it even better for you guys, because I feel like there were TWO cases of instalove, which coincided so beautifully to make a love triangle. Okay, one of the angles, Bree, is less instalove-y than the other, Emma, (and thus I liked her better) but both are understandably frustrating. To make it worse, I felt like the romance was completely detracting from the story – because that interested me! Quite a lot, actually! But I kept getting reminded about how much Gray was in love with Emma. At almost every interlude. Dude. Shut up already. You’re a guy. Grow some balls. Or something.

So speaking of Gray… I don’t really get him. He’s a bit of a static main character. I can note no real character growth and also no real defining character traits. Wait, let me revise that, he’s impulsive and love sick. I guess, since it’s such a rarity, I was just expecting more from a male main character. But especially with the way he was so love sick, I just didn’t buy into him being male… I mean. Jess?

In my eyes, the story would have been way more enjoyable if (a) Gray had some balls, or (b) the story was told from Bree’s point of view. She, at least, had some spunk, and was probably my favorite character of the book.

No cliffhanger ending. At least we got that much. I really liked the way the story was tied up – it was a clear and clean arc, but still gave enough away to make me anticipate the sequel. I just want to know more about this world. Leave out the romancing please!!

Summing Up:

Is Taken the dystopia that will kick The Hunger Games off its throne? No. However, for fans of the genre, who can ignore a little annoying instalove, this is an entertaining adventure, and I could think of worse ways to spend a few evenings.

In Three Words:

Recommended To:

Fans of the dystopian genre.

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16 responses to “ARC Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

  1. Instalove?! *hides* If there’s one thing I hate more than love triangles… but… a love triangle too? Aw man. Pretty much my biggest nightmare 🙁 I’m curious about the world building, but oh my god. I already know it would annoy me so much haha. Meh, I’ve heard bad things about this one, which is VERY disappointing 🙁

    • Yeah, I kind of feel the same way. I don’t know though, I did manage to ignore it for most of the story because the plot really kept my attention. But yeah, this one… it’s really, 3 stars – middle of the road. I’m not sure I would recommend it to many people. Which is disappointing… I expected more.

    • Yeah, the romance was just really baffling to me. The infodumping.. I don’t know what she was thinking. There was seriously a section of like three pages where Gray was being told about the world. After a while I was just like… is this for real? =/

  2. Ugh an insta-love triangle and infodumping? So not what I was hoping for with Taken! I don’t understand why authors continue to write dystopians if they can’t flesh out their worlds realistically without resorting to dumping a bunch of info on us sporadically.

    • Yeah, this really let me down. I felt like especially with the insta-love triangle, she felt pressured to make her book all about the romance. Man, if shed just taken that time to flesh out the world by showing not telling, it would have made the whole thing more enjoyable. The plot itself was still really interesting. I feel so torn. -.-

  3. I’m in the rare minority of readers, I think, who don’t mind love triangles(provided they’re well done), but instalove? Eck. I’ve read so many mixed reviews of Taken, I don’t know how I feel about buying it(I’ll still probably read it, but I might hold off for awhile). It’s interesting that you describe it as The Hunger Games meets the Maze Runner, because I LOVE the Hunger Games, but like you, gave up on The Maze Runner. It does sound like the plot is really exciting though, so maybe that’ll be compelling enough for me(hopefully, because I really want to like this one!)

    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of love triangles but I think especially in that case if you use insta-love it’s just doomed to fail. I would indeed, in your case, wait a bit for some more reviews, because this is a really hard one to judge. It’s really middle of the road. If you do check it out, I hope you like it more than I did 🙂

  4. Ugh. This book. I’ll try not to go into a rant in your comment section XD I didn’t mind the instalove so much, since they were acquaintances before the novel started, and Gray liked Emma back then. I didn’t like the romances, though, because Gray was freakin’ awful. That scene where he sees that Emma has partially moved on? HELL NAW BROTHER. I wanted to kill him.

    Excellent review though, dearie. I totally agree that the plot is the best part. I kind of want to read the sequel, even though I only gave Taken one star 😀

  5. Taken was one book I was dying to read but after reading so many mixed reviews, I’m not so sure now. Sounds lire an amazing concept, wish it could have been better though. Disappointed.

  6. Okay first I just need to say I love how you put together your reviews! The review just flows so well and catches your exactly where you want it to. So yeah awesome blossom.

    Secondly, I have been reading a lot of reviews on this one and I’m so sad that it isn’t the slam dunk it could so easily have been. I still want to read it, but maybe once it comes to my library? Oh well.

    • Aww, thank you 🙂

      I know right! This one had such an interesting dystopian concept, I just wish the execution was better. I definitely wouldn’t spend any money on it, but yeah, if it comes to your library, give it a shot! There are some who liked it better than I did 🙂