Series: Taken, #1
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
Rating: 4.5 stars
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.Writing this review is extremely difficult for me, not only because I absolutely loved Taken, and writing reviews for books I love is usually a difficult process for me (if you haven't noticed, I'm not the most eloquent reviewer. I use gifs and tend to swear. Often.), because I always feel like I am not doing the book I'm reviewing justice with my words, and other times, I'm just at a loss for said words.
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?
Though with Taken, that is not entirely why writing this review is so difficult for me. Yes, while I don't feel I can do this book justice with just my review and I am at a loss for words concerning how awesome Taken was, this review is mostly difficult for me to write because there is so much I want to say but I don't want to spoil anything.
I've been looking forward to reading Taken ever since I saw its absolutely stunning cover, and have been looking forward to it even more after reading the mysterious and intriguing synopsis. From that point on, Taken has been one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2013. However, despite my immense anticipation for Taken, I was really worried about the concept of men just vanishing as they turn eighteen. More often than not in YA, and really any other book that I've read lately, authors have come up with an amazing and seemingly impossible central concept, but when it's time for the authors to explain how that concept works, they give a mediocre at best explanation that makes little to no sense.
I am happy to say that Taken is most definitely an exception. The mystery behind the Heists in Taken is so richly developed, unpredictable, original, and is just so much fun to read and uncover as the novel progresses, and it actually makes sense and is given a logical reasoning. Along the way, there are tons of twists - some I saw coming, some I did not - and each twist adds another layer of depth to the plot and the mystery of the Heist. Along with the mystery of the Heist, we are provided with an extremely fast-paced an interesting plot, filled to the brim with, like I mentioned earlier, brilliant and original plot twists that make you question everything you already know. There was a time early in the novel, around the 25% mark, where I questioned where the story could possibly go since it was moving so quickly, but all my doubts were soon proven to no avail as Bowman throws more and more plot twists at us, most - if not all - of which are tied up by the end in an entirely satisfying manner that still leaves the reader wanting more.
As well as the brilliant mystery and plot, the world-building in Taken, while something I was a bit unsure of at first, grew to be something I was soon praising in its sheer originality and awesomeness. Erin Bowman has such a skill in creating a thoroughly interesting world seeping with detail, while giving little explanations of how her world came to be scattered throughout the entirety of Taken, without it ever feeling like she's cheating the reader by keeping things from them.
Another thing I was worried about in Taken was whether or not the male POV that the novel is told in would be realistic, as I read a book told by a male POV that was horrible just prior to Taken. My worries concerning this, too, were soon proven to be to no avail. The character of Gray is believable as a male teenager, and is an overall likable character. He is at times impulsive and a bit selfish, but to me it only added to the believability of his character and his actions. I also loved the secondary characters in Taken, and am (for the most part) satisfied with the romance in it. Usually I am all against love triangles, but Erin Bowman managed to make it work by making the romances in the love triangle interesting, well-developed, and not predictable.
With genius plotting, awesome world-building, quite a few surprises, incredible writing, and a great deal of character and relationship development, I am thrilled to say that, after all my months of pining and offering to sell my soul for a copy, Taken most definitely did not disappoint. I absolutely can't wait to see where the story goes in the second installment, and I also can't wait to see how the love triangle plays out.