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Book Cover Image: Taken by Erin BowmanTitle: Taken
Author: Erin Bowman
ISBN: 9780062117267
No. of Pages: 352

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Origins: HarperTeen
Bottom Line: Redundant dystopian thriller better left to its target market.
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?
Thoughts: The synopsis of Taken by Erin Bowman really does the story a disservice because everything that is mentioned in it occurs within the first quarter of the novel. The rest of the novel happens after Clay makes his decision, and it is what lies beyond the Wall wherein the plot gathers its tension and excitement. It should be no surprise that Gray discovers certain secrets and thereby makes his decision. He chooses to climb the Wall and test his fate on the other side, which leads him down a path he never could have envisioned in his wildest dreams.
While Gray might not have been able to dream up the truth behind the Wall and Claysoot, savvy readers will find more than one plot point utterly familiar. There is very little, in fact, that is shocking, let alone unique. The plot twists are predictable, and even the supposedly surprising revelations that lead to the cliffhanger ending are not the huge bombshell. That does not mean that one won’t appreciate the story. In spite of its predictability, there is still much to enjoy. The action is practically nonstop, and Ms. Bowman does a fantastic job establishing her world. While not the most in-depth characters to exist, they are still compelling in their own right, providing more than enough chances for readers to step into their shoes and ponder what they would do in similar circumstances.
Taken is an exciting dystopian thriller when in the throes of reading it. Yet, the excitement does not last longer than the last page, as the story falls prey to an overabundance of similar plots and characters. There is nothing overly memorable about Gray, and while the Heist, the Wall, and the existence of Claysoot are quite interesting, there are too many familiar elements from other similar stories to prevent it from being completely unique. Still, taken at face value and without an excess of analysis, Taken is a fun ride into a post-apocalyptic world wherein too many secrets means that nothing is as it initially seems. For the target audience, it is a worthy addition, but adults looking for the next great crossover novel might be more than a little disappointed.
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