Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

SERIES. Taken
RELEASE DATE. April 16, 2013
PUBLISHER. HarperTeen
PAGES. 360
FORMAT. ARC
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Dystopian, Science Fiction, Suspense
FIND IT. Amazon | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. 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.

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?

THOUGHTS. Talk about a kind of story that you don’t read every day. Talk about a kind of story where everything you thought is not what it seems to be. Talk about mind-blowing.

At first glance, Taken is just your classic dystopian story: action-packed, dark, and jeopardized. Nowadays, it is usual to find the same concept repeatedly readapted in the form of books or films particularly in science fictions. There’s the concept of fighters in an arena. There’s the concept of a rebellion or war where humans and robots or even clones are involve. There’s the concept of a world ravaged with calamities or a deadly virus. In Taken, Bowman impressively juggles varying science fiction concepts and elements that surprisingly and breathtakingly created an unsafe world that I believe is the worst case of a future ever designed, if not more—and yet I never expected to love.

But then there’s more to Taken than meets the eye.

Taken is not simply a dystopian book. Bowman intricately blends in mystery and suspense into the story as well—and how she brought them out (especially with the mystery behind the Heist and the Wall), literally left me openmouthed. She bore questions and secrets into the story that did not only make the characters doubtful about their identities, their pasts and what they had believed to be but I was also thirstily tempted to dig out for answers that eventually turned the plot into an adrenaline-rushed and fast-paced page-turner. At the same time, the mystery and suspense intensified the complexities of the story that literally made me cringe, eager, and jolt with every budding secret and every unexpected discovery. Thus, it’s really, really hard to put the book down.

As much as I enjoyed the world-building and the surprising twists in Taken, the characters also impressed me, Gray in particular. Bowman captures a male’s voice effortlessly and skillfully emotional. As a male, it surely helped me understand Gray. He maybe stubborn, impulsive, and sometimes selfish—very unlikeable traits—but that doesn’t mean he’s unlikeable throughout the entire story. Actually, it helped and braved him to survive the atrocities he had in life especially with that blow after blow of both lies and truths bombarded into him. Gray’s character may present a love-and-hate outcome to the readers but it just shows Bowman’s adept ability to craft believable and convincingly flawed characters.

Similarly, I couldn’t help but admire this side of the story: the romance. Bowman delivered a romance that is powerful, complicated and almost tragic, one that could affect a reader with flux of emotions and questions to ponder. Hence, I can’t wait on how the romance will evolve in the following books.

Erin Bowman’s Taken is a perfectly imagined harrowing thought of the future. It’s a phenomenal book that uniquely blends past to present and reality to fiction. It’s addictive, dark, disturbing, terrifying, unforgettable, and unpredictable all at the same time making it one of the best dystopian books I’ve ever read. With that, I can't wait to read what's next and for whatever surprises Bowman has up in her sleeves.

Ultimately, it’s as much as I can say but I shall forewarn you: once you enter it, get ready to be heisted, because there’s no escaping from its wall.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Erin Bowman used to tell stories visually as a web designer. Now a full-time writer, she relies solely on words. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and when not writing she can often be found hiking, commenting on good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter.

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