Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction, science fiction, young adult
Series: Taken #1
Published: expected April 16 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
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 am so disappointed. I had such a good streak going. Three, nearly four, months and eighty books into 2013, I'd only had one 1-star read before this. I started Taken with high hopes - that cover! that synopsis! - that quickly, and I mean QUICKLY, plummeted from "this is going to be good!" to "Oh, no..." to "To DNF or to not DNF?" to "I just want this to be over." Thankfully, my pain was rather short lived this time. Taken is three hundred odd pages, but there's so little depth to the world or the characters that it's a thankfully fast-moving read. In the end, I have to recognize that this was just a book that was not meant for me and abandon the series.
I knew thirteen pages into Taken that this was going to be a rocky road. My main and first issue was with the main character and narrator, Gray Weathersby. Erin Bowman can write an authentic male voice, but she utterly failed to create a likeable, or even interesting, one. Gray is a jerk, and Gray is rather short-sighted. He was awful, and he was where the cracks started to show. If you can get around Gray's 'tude, you will find Taken a more fun read than I did. I can see my way to loving some awful characters, anti-heroes (Jaime Lannister, anyone? I adore him. Don't judge me.) and even villains (Sepp dan Teufel is my favorite character from The Blade Itself trilogy, and he is a horrid, broken man). But they, unlike Gray, manage to be interesting, complex in their moral failings and errors. They are more than the worse of them. Alternatively, Gray is just a brat. With lifelong insecurity issues.
The other characters don't do much to take the heat and focus off of Gray's long list of shortcomings. Everyone in the book is so one-dimensional and flat. Emma, the *first* love interest, flipflops from one side of an idea to the other in pages. Her affection does the same, and her characterization is pretty much null. Blaine, the brother, is a Larry Stu, and thus practically perfect. There's no complexity or intricacy to the characters or their relationships with one another. It's alllll surface. I need more, and the book needs more - I need depth and real characterization to care about what's going on to the characters. Otherwise, I get bored and start counting down the pages til: a. everyone dies or b. the book ends.
I kept running into issues with the plot and the progression of the story as it went along. There are too many tropes (instalove! Love triangles!), cliches, and conveniences to be found in Taken. It's just too much to be believable. I have a great suspension of disbelief, but after a point, I just... can't. Gray's entire motivation and actions are too easy, and almost of the twists and conflicts he runs into end quickly, usually in a deux-ex-machina kind of way. The plotholes in the story also started to add up as more and more is revealed about the world Gray exists within. All of that adds up to more than I can buy into. And if I can't identify or relate or even care about the characters, if the plot falls apart with closer examination, and if it's a passionless, easy affair, I'm out.
Taken is a great idea that falters out of the gate with its muddled execution. The long and short of it is that a good, original and mysterious concept is not enough to carry a novel, especially one that's hundreds of pages. The novelty and curiously wear thin, and then out completely. The series will continue with books two and three, but I will not be reading to see how it all plays out.