Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ARC Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

by Erin Bowman
Book #1 of Taken series
Publication: April 16th 2013 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia

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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?

Oh, Dystopia gods, what a love-hate relationship we're forming. With its pretty cover and promising summary, Taken  swept through the blogosphere like The Flood, overwhelming ARC grabby hands, Waiting on Wednesday meme-ships, and dutiful prayer-like wish lists. For your readers' love, devotion, and faith, you bestowed upon us:

A tumultuous journey. The beginning of Taken  was interesting enough, but what was happening, what the dynamics were, and who played on what side became obvious. While there were quite a few twists, there were more frustrating moments in which I knew what was coming and wished the story would just get there already.

A gray dove. Imperfect, Gray Weathersby is no typical male protagonist. He's hard to like with his tempestuous disposition. Yet, despite his shortcomings of hitting girls, leaving the one he "loves" in the hands of his enemies for months while having the jones for another, and reacting too impulsively or sometimes not enough to fit his character, he continued to instill some sense of hope that he would change and the destination would be grand. I appreciated the honesty of his boy-thoughts and wanted to see him develop into a man. Though by the end, I still found him lacking.

A Mount Ararat premise, full of caves, instead of a solid Mount Everest. Though certain aspects were refreshingly unique, I frequently questioned how they played in the plot. There's a lot to like, but everything together as a whole, the ideas weren't cohesive enough and seemed rather non-sensical. The mandatory slatings to ensure the continuation of the people—flimsy in the first place; people reproduce even with the biggest precautions, and forcing them to do so without a choice is degrading—but why monthly rotations instead of longer engagements or something more permanent? Water rations in the midst of a beauty-inducing government and highly advanced technology? Really? I don't expect all my questions answered in the first book of a series, but too many details were left hanging, and I couldn't see them beyond shock value or storyline convenience.

So why did I give this three stars? I realize my expectations were simply too high. With all the buzz surrounding this title, I thought it would be the Second Coming of Dystopia reads. Although I didn't love Taken, I did like it, to a point. I could make a case for both sides, a pro and a con, for almost every part of this book. And I do think others might enjoy it. It's action-packed, has a good male POV, and is well written compared to most. Also, I'd read the next installment, though with less fervor. I suggest you borrow this one from the library or a friend. Then buy it if you're taken.

eARC provided by HarperTeen Publishing via Edelweiss.
Thank you!

Favorite line:

The truth is addictive.

Erin Bowman

Her Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Erin grew up in rural Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood telling stories. It is rumored that her first words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Once upon a time.” In middle school, when kids were going off to sleep-away camp for the summer, Erin was attending writing camp and penning short stories.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York, Erin studied web design (and minored in Creative Writing because she couldn’t stay away from stories). After several years working in advertising and designing websites for various brands, she has moved on to writing full-time. When not writing, she can often be found hiking, commenting on good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter.

Erin is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger. Her debut novel TAKEN will be published by HarperTeen April 16th, 2013. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband.