Review: “Taken” by Erin Bowman

11044367Title: “Taken”

Author: Erin Bowman

Genre: YA, dystopian, cyberpunk, biopunk, post-apocalyptic/apocalyptic

Publication Date: April 16, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC/Edelweiss Review Copy

Summary: 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?

☆: 1/5 stars – incredibly disappointing pretty much everywhere.

Review:  Oh, Taken, I had such high hopes for you. You had such a cool premise – an alien-type of abduction thing, a dystopian thing, a battle of the sexes-kinda-thing. Where did it all go wrong? No, don’t make me answer that now. I’ll go into it soon enough. Unfortunately, even with an awesome cover and an awesome blurb (which, really, thinking as I’ve read all three books it mentions as “X meets Y and then Z”, I should have seen all of this coming), “Taken” really, really, really failed to live up to expectations, and even actually insulted me. And you know if you’ve been reading the blog for awhile now, it’s REALLY hard to insult me.

Okay, let’s get to the “how this insulted Usagi” bit: I will be honest – my father was not a nice man, and he liked using his fists more than his words with my mother. This is a very particularly fine trigger of mine within any kind of media, but especially within books. So when I see the MC hitting a girl, and it’s pretty much dismissed because “oh, well, the dudes only have 18 years or less before they disappear so it’s all good” attitude the entire town holds, I just kind of saw red. Seriously.

But. I kept reading, because I do like MCs that are extremely terrible or unlikeable because sometimes they can be really awesome by the end of the book.

No such luck there.

Need I say that a female writer dismissing what’s pretty much domestic abuse (add to this – a mandatory tab a into slot b as a way to keep the town alive? I actually threw the book across the room), though they don’t live together and are only childhood friends? I am very NOT okay with this.
But let’s go on.

I think what really did it for me was while the worldbuilding was initially pretty solid (at least, within Claysoot alone), it kind of broke down as soon as we get to Taem. There are so many questions unanswered, and it felt like Bowman was putting off the actual building of Taem for the audience – which is understandable because there’s a lot going on (along with a big reveal as to where the boys all go, for example) and we can’t write everything at once. But I kept reading.

And reading.

And reading.

And finally, it was revealed – we get a little nugget of information on AmEast/West, but really, no solid history from our own time leading up to that of Gray’s. Thus, the world outside of Claysoot, aside of the very short and not entirely adequate explanation of what led to Claysoot (and the other small towns in the Outer Ring)’s formation. I mean, we got an infodump, but it wasn’t sufficient enough to really tell us what was going on.

And then there’s the instalove. Or what Gray thinks is love – he’s not really sure. That part? I liked that part about his character – people don’t get together for love in Claysoot because they simply just do not have the time for it – it’s more of a parent/child thing. So I thought this part of his character was really interesting, and could have been explored further. But instead of exploration, we get insta-love with his crush instead. And it goes downhill from there.

And that’s when I just lost interest. Things became predictable (once again, the “X meets Y meets Z” thing in the blurb really should have made me watch out because it was very, very accurate), and I just…tuned out. Which is unfortunate in so many ways.

Anyway, that’s just my take on it. “Taken” is out now from HarperTeen now in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance. I just wish I’d been able to like it more.

One thought on “Review: “Taken” by Erin Bowman

  1. Pingback: Usagi’s challenges for 2013 | birth of a new witch.

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