I will be totally honest with you; when I requested this title from Edelweiss/Harper Collins, I thought Taken was either going to be about a group of aliens that swooped down and took all the men from Claysoot when they turned 18 in what's known as the Heist, or they were killed off by vampires who needed their blood in order to survive. I know that I'm a wee bit off my rocker folks. No need to remind me!
Seriously, how could you NOT think that after reading the synopsis and learning that the residents of Claysoot live behind a wall and anyone caught trying to escape is thrown back....dead? The truth behind the disappearances, however, is much more deliberate and complex than you can imagine. What was interesting to me is that the more we learned about the residents and how they got there in the first place without any sort of memories of where they came from, the more I started to think of them as nothing more than test subjects ripe for the pickings by maniacal mad men.
Our main character is Gray Weathersby who is, by all definitions, an angry guy. I mean, who can really blame the guy knowing that when his brother Blaine turns 18, he will be Heisted and taken away forever and the girl he actually feels something for, Emma, has never shown him any interest other than amusement and scorn. He's been lied to his entire life by not only his mother, but his brother and everyone else who knew about his secret. He even gets into a fight with a girl and nearly gets his ass kicked save for his brothers interference. I'm sure that pill will be hard to swallow for some readers especially women.
Gray has a little bit of Katniss in him in that he loves to hunt with a bow and arrow and is really good at it. So good, in fact, that he trades his catch for goods. But Gray is also mischievous in that when he finds out a shocking secret about himself, he goes looking for answers and in turn, trouble when he goes over the Wall with Emma in tow. Therein likes the rub. When he does run, and goes over the wall, he finds out more than he could ever imagine including the fate of those Heisted. His eyes are opened to the actual world in which he lives in and what he finds, he can never put back into a bottle.
Did anyone, besides me, compare this book to The Hunger Games by any chance while reading or was I the only one? For those that actually read read this book, think about it for a moment. This book is centered around a country that is split into AMEast (Taem) and AMWest. The Hunger Games was set in Panem with 13 separate districts with District 1 having all the power. Taken has the same country, the same apparent devastating war that tore the country apart, and the same sort of center of AmEast in Taem.
I found myself comparing the two books when certain information came to light that there were different Groups (Districts) that were formed by the evil genius named Frank to cull out the strongest among the survivors of the Second World War. There was even a Group (District) that had apparently wiped itself out not unlike District 13 in the Hunger Games or so we were told.
Now, here is where I am going to split with my illustrious fellow bloggers and reviewers. There is a twisted love triangle that appears in this book between Gray, Emma Link, and rebel soldier Brianna (Bree) Nox that really isn't resolved to my liking by the time all is said and done. I actually found myself disliking Emma because of her actions while understanding why Gray would feel the need to move towards Bree after spending time with her and getting to know her better. I still hate 3 way triangles, but in this case, I understood it because of Emma's actions and the fact that Gray never stopped having feelings for her. Some readers will probably understand why she does what she does, and that's totally fine with me. Not going to split hairs over it.
Overall, this book does have some drawbacks but it wasn't a terrible read. I think the world building was done in such a manner that you understood what was happening to the country these characters live in even though they clearly don't. You understand the angst of not knowing if you are going to be Heisted away at any moment, or whether or not AmWest will attack with chemical weapons. You see things through the eyes of a male protagonist who may or may not be the most likable person you will read about. Then, there's the harsh reality that people are living under a genuine villain who keeps them under his thumb and only rewards those of his own Order while punishing anyone who breaks his rules. The only hope appears to be a group known as the Rebellion that is doing everything they can to bring him down.
In closing, I will most likely read the next book in the series because I want to learn more about the separate Groups and what choice Gray ends up making in the end between Emma and Bree.
Title - Taken (Taken # 1)
Author - Erin Bowman
Publisher - Harper Teen
Releases April 16, 2013
Genre - Dystopian
Recvd via Edelweiss for HarperTeen