Taken by Erin Bowman Book Review

Taken by Erin Bowman
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 16, 2013

It happens on your eighteenth birthday. They call it the Heist. The ground shakes, the wind howls, and blinding light comes from the heavens, and then they are gone. When Gray's older brother Blain is taken by the Heist, Gray feels like a piece of him is missing. Then he finds part of a letter written by his deceased mother, one that promises secrets and Gray knows he must find the answers. However, the answers even when found are shrouded in secrecy. How are you supposed to trust and protect the ones you love, when everything you have ever been told is a lie?

Let's start with the good. Taken is very well-paced, with very little down time between action scenes. I was never bored and found myself finishing the entire book in one sitting. (despite having a lot of issues with it) There was no muddle in the middle and the consequences for these characters was huge.

That said, Gray Weathersby is one of the most unlikable characters I have read in a long time. If he was unlikable due to an anti-hero status then perhaps this would be okay, but I am pretty sure I, the reader am supposed to like this asshat. Pardon my language. This guy hits girls who say things he doesn't like, he rarely thinks anything through and allows himself to be fully ruled by his emotions, he is stubborn, rude, and has a tendency to trust all the wrong people and distrust the right ones. I was completely done with him though when he grabbed a man who had stolen an extra gallon of water and despite the man begging and pleading for his life, Gray refuses to let him go. The result is the man being executed before their eyes. Of course, there is guilt associated with this but my question is why? Why did it matter to Gray in the slightest? Why should he even care that some random dude stole some water? This isn't his city, these aren't his people, and he has never shown one inkling of caring about whether rules and laws are obeyed. His affections towards women are fickle at best and despite declaring himself multiple times to only want one love forever, he is very quick to move on the minute he meets someone else.

The plot itself was extremely transparent. At first, I thought that my guessing the plot points was the author allowing the reader to know something before the character. I don't want to figure out the twists and turns chapters before the character does though. I am on this journey with this character, I want to learn as he learns, rather than anticipating a plot twist that I already figured out three chapters before. It doesn't make much of a twist if you know what's going to happen. The sad part is that on its face there is great premise and mystery to the story. The Heist, the wall, domed cities, civil wars, a machine that can burn you to a crisp, an elder who may be in on the plot, other towns just like theirs. However, the answers to these mysteries were incredibly mundane. I was expecting the Heist to be teleporters or special machines made to scare people, to find out it was only a helicopter was extremely disappointing. That was how it all felt for me. Disappointing. Oh and don't even get me started with the random character who conveniently shows up in the end to suddenly save them.

Oh, and the love triangle. About 2/3 of the way through the book there is a sudden love triangle that is probably one of the worst I have ever read. Not only because of the aforementioned fact that Gray spends the first 2/3 pining over Emma and telling her how he believes some people should be together forever, but also because the other girl he "falls" for is probably the very opposite (read: not a good match) of Emma. Now we add in the fact that during any scene where Gray is thinking about girls he sounds like...well, a girl. He knows Emma is alive. He is completely aware that not only did she follow him over the wall, but that she loves him, and that it is his fault she is imprisoned, and yet he easily allows himself to fall in love with this other girl. I guess they are a good match in the respect that they like to fight, are ruled by their emotions, and are equally rude. However, Gray doesn't need someone exactly like himself.

In the end, Gray is a horrible operative and no rebel should allow him to go on any missions because the minute he gets a feeling or acts impulsively, he is going to get everyone killed. Not a big deal for him, since he is so good at just moving on, but it could devastate everything the rebels have worked for. Not to worry, I'm sure in what is sure to be a trilogy, the rebels will win and Gray will get some girl.