Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Taken by Erin Bowman Book Cover


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?

Book Details

Taken by Erin Bowman
Series: Take #1
On Sale Date: April 16, 2013,
Juvenile Fiction \ Science Fiction
Ages 13 And Up, Grades 8 And Up
Harper Teen, 368 pages
Source: Library
My Rating: 3 Stars


First Sentence: TODAY IS THE LAST DAY I will see my brother.

My Thoughts Before Reading: When I first read the summary for TAKEN by Erin Bowman, I got pretty excited. The premise for the books sounded unique: all males on their 18th birthday are mysteriously 'Heisted' in the isolated town of Claysoot. The fact that it's told from the males (Gray's) perspective was also a bonus.  I wanted to dive in and find out what was so different about the town Claysoot, and more about the Dystopian setting of Taken. It all sounded so intriguing to me and I really wanted to find out what was beyond that darn wall! Why were only boys 'Heisted' and not girls? What the heck was on the other side that killed the boys adventuresome enough to climb over? The mystery was a big tease and I was dying to find out.

My Thought After Reading: After reading Taken I had to sit back a moment to ponder how I really feel about this book. I am happy to say that overall I enjoyed the book and I'm glad that I read it. But, there were a few things I really did not care for in the story and I will explain in more detail in the character portion. 

Taken has some unique plot twists that helped to keep me guessing, and of course, the actual concept of what the 'Heist' was and how it worked was great. I felt that there was still plenty of suspense even after the 'Heist' reveals to keep me turning the pages.  I was still intrigued enough by the characters and plot, that I had a hard time putting the book down. 

The Setting: One area I thought the book Taken really excelled in was the world-building. I thought Erin Bowman did a great job with the actual descriptions and explanations of the setting of Taken. I was really fascinated by the society in Claysoot, and what was beyond the wall.

About the Characters: Even before I read Taken, I knew there were other readers who really had a hard time connecting with Gray's character, and in fact were upset at some of his actions in the book, namely he gets into a fight early on with a girl.( Not a surprise, happens almost first thing in the book). I understood what Erin Bowman was trying to portray: how dramatic it was for Gray at that moment of the story, when he was hours away from losing his brother forever to the 'Heist' and there was nothing he could do about it.  He was scared and angry.

I couldn't help wondering WHY? Why couldn't he have just shoved the awful girl in a pile of mud, manure or whatever... just not hit her like he did. So I kept reading, hoping for Gray to show some redeeming qualities. I am happy to say that although Gray was not perfect in any way, and still made some stupid blunders, as the story progressed I found myself enjoying the storyline, hoping Gray would solve the 'Heist', and I actually began to enjoy the romance part of the story.

Emma. I really started to like Emma, and thought she was sweet, intelligent and caring. Some of my favorite parts of the book were when Gray and Emma were getting to know one another better in Claysoot, and their romance was blooming. But, not wanting to give anything away, Emma does something much later in the book that didn't sit well with me either and it just didn't seem to fit.

Bree, who ends up being my favorite character out of everyone.  Bree comes along like a breath of fresh air. She's feisty, tough, smart. Full of life. Out of all the characters, I wanted to know more about Bree. I wanted her to be the main character because I liked her so much, and not just a possible love interest.

The Romance: Romantic Triangle. There is some genuine and sweet romance between Gray and Emma at first. But later, when Bree's character was introduced, I really liked her better than Emma, and could understand why Gray might find in Bree a romantic interest and challenge.

Swoon Factor: Crush. Yes, there are some nice kissing scenes.

Fun Quote: Here's a fun quote of when Gray first meets Bree. Not your typical Swoon.

"What's it matter? You are going to shoot me, right? I flash her a quick smile. Devious. Playful.

Her eyes narrow, and when she moves, she is impossibly quick. Her knee comes up and hits me in the groin. I buckle over in pain and she brings the butt of her weapon into my skull. I fall into the water and the last thing I see as I surrender to darkness is her proud face above me, smirking.

What I liked: I liked the unique 'Heist' storyline and really enjoyed the world building factor in Taken.

What I would have liked or felt could have been better: I had a hard time accepting some of the actions by both characters Gray and Emma, and I was disappointed in them both at one time or another.

The Ending: So, on one hand, the book was a really interesting and fast-paced with a great Dystopian setting, plenty of plot twists to the storyline, and a unique premise, but on the other hand, Gray and Emma frustrated me a few times. And then there's one character I loved, Bree. Hence my mixed review!