Taken by Erin Bowman
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?
In Claysoot boys are forced to grow up at a very young age. They become leaders at the age of 15 and must father children as young as possible for their time is very limited. Each one, on the night of their 18th birthday is Heisted, and disappears forever. There's no escaping the heist as a wall encircles the town and anyone who tries to escape doen't come back alive. It's a fact of life, one most of the residents of Claysoot have accepted. But Gray is different. He questions everything, so when he finds a mysterious letter from his mother claiming that he isn't what he thought he was, he goes in search of answers. What he finds is shocking, and only leaves more questions than answers. He'll have to decide what's worse, the wall and the secrets beyond it, or the unknown of the Heist.
When this book took off on a whirlwind and was pulling at my heartstrings in the very first chapter, I thought to myself, "This is going to be an awesome book!" And it was for the first part. TAKEN is split into four parts, and I have to say that things just seemed to go steadily downhill after the first one. I mean in the beginning there's all this mystery going on and you could really feel the incredibly harsh situations that have been forced upon the people of Claysoot. Boys are forced to become men long before they are of age as they have to pass on their genes before they are taken away at 18. There is no monogamy, only "slatings" with a different girl each month. Children never remember their fathers as they are heisted long before the child is old enough. As much as they hate the hand they've been dealt, they've come to accept it. Anyone who tries to escape over the wall surrounding claysoot comes back a charred husk. So for the first part of the book I was so wrapped up in figuring out what was going, that I was completely enthralled in the book. Then part two happens, and honestly it really let me down. The revelations given were so obviously false, I just couldn't comprehend how these characters were so naive. It really seemed out of character for them to just instantly accept things as truth when they questioned things so much before. I mean what happened to their rebellious nature? I won't get into part three and four to avoid spoiling anything, but to me it just felt like a cookie cutter dystopian rebellion.
Now onto the romance. In the first part of TAKEN, I felt it was handled pretty well. Gray has loved Emma for as long as he can remember, even though love isn't something that happens in Claysoot. Emma of course doesn't want anything to do with him as she sees his brash nature as a flaw. But she does come around when he makes an honest offer to pretend to complete the "slatings" with her to get others off her back. Neither wants a child, so she's pretty impressed and changes her opinion of him. I did feel like it happened a little too quickly, but then again in their situation, time isn't something they have a lot of, so it would make sense to quickly let go of past perceptions. Of course by part two they are madly in LOVE and practically desperate for one another, even if nothing has really happened. Then hijinks occur and they get separated, possibly for good. And of course, now another girl must enter the picture, which frustrated me to no end. Don't get me wrong I actually really like the new girl, but I just didn't care for the way the triangle progressed. I just don't think it was really fair to her, especially when you consider some of Gray's later actions. I know I shouldn't expect Gray to know how to really handle relationship turmoil considering he's never seen it nor experienced it, but I still was pretty frustrated with him by the end. Love triangles are very hit or miss for me, and this time around it's definitely a miss.
I have to say that TAKEN wasn't a terrible book, just more frustrating than anything. Most of those frustrations stem from the fact that the last 3/4 did not even remotely live up to the incredible opening. I just felt really let down after those high expectations were set. When it comes down to it, for a book to be really good, the revelations have to be as strong as the mystery itself, otherwise I'm just left wondering what was the point. And TAKEN unfortunately is one of those cases.
(Received a copy from Edelweiss)