Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Release Day Review: Taken (Taken, #1)


Taken (Taken, #1)Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Taken, #1
Release date: April 16th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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?

It took me over a month to read Taken, which must be some kind of a record for me. I don’t usually do that – I either finish the book right away, or I just give up. Taken didn’t grab me as it should have, but at the same time, I felt that abandoning it would be unjustified since there was nothing technically wrong with it. In the end, I managed to talk myself into finishing it, but aside from a few gripping moments, my effort brought me no reward. I should have saved myself the trouble.

On the surface, nothing seems to be wrong with Taken. It’s a tightly-paced dystopian story full of surprises and excitement. Gray escapes one walled society, only to find himself in the second and then the third, each with its own set of rules. That, in itself, was part of the problem. Bowman tried to do too much, changed the course far too often, and ended up with a crammed plot and incomplete worldbuilding. In her desire to be original, she took on too much. A messy and unsatisfying story was the result.

Her protagonist(s) didn’t help matters much. I disliked Gray from the very first page, and not a single one of his emotions felt genuine at first. With the progression of the story, he became slightly more acceptable, but I never warmed up to him as much as I should have. For years Gray has been in love with Emma, but their circumstances, the rules of their society made him think that a future together would be impossible. And then suddenly, they got paired up to procreate (which was very creepy in itself) and even though Emma practically despised him until that point, he changed her mind with no more than two sentences. Instalove (and it was instalove on her part) makes me so very uncomfortable, and it didn’t help that Emma herself was very plain and weak.

To make matters much worse, this instalove was followed by another trope I utterly despise. Love triangles seem to be out of fashion, and while this would normally make me ecstatic, the fact that they were replaced by love rectangles drives me to despair instead. I am tired of unnecessary romantic complications and I want to read a story in which a couple faces troubles coming from the outside. I think that would be far more interesting. With the exception of Bree, all the participants in this love mess (Gray, Emma and that guy whose name I don’t remember) deserve to be alone for all eternity. The words obnoxious, selfish and clueless accurately describe them all.

If there is one thing going for Taken, it’s that it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger. Although many things were left unresolved, the last chapter still gave me a satisfactory conclusion. Gray’s complicated and tentative relationship with his father is another thing I wanted to highlight. It gave his character some much needed vulnerability and it made at least some of his actions seem more understandable, if not entirely acceptable.

All in all, there’s no denying that Erin Bowman’s debut is a thrill ride and should be taken as such. Characters are everything to me and if I can’t sympathize with them, I’m not likely to enjoy any book, but if you’re looking for an exciting read with a whole lot of twists and turns, then this is a very good choice for you.

28 comments:

  1. Instalove! I hate it! And I really need to gel with the characters too in order to enjoy the book. I have this one for review too but I've seen so many negative opinions of this, it'll be hard for me to pick it up now I think. Fantastic review as usual Maja :)

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  2. I've had high hopes for this when I first read its synopsis. I loved dystopian novels! Ultimately. But that love triangle or shall I say love rectangle made me laugh so hard! Hahaha. Hate love triangles! I think I'll save myself from that despair too! Wonderful honest review! :)

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  3. Exactly my thoughts. I hated the romance and the characters with a passion. What they do to each other made me want to slap them a few times. I also thought that there was too much going on in Taken and the author failed to really build her world.
    I've read 3 reviews of this book today and they all had the same reaction to it. It's not at all surprising.
    Great honest review, Maja! :)

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  4. Love rectangle...dear lord. NOOOOO! I think I would have thrown this book across the room for the combo instalove/rectangle. That's a huge turn-off for me. Plus, if those love tangles were anything like real life, there's be a huge blow up, maybe a fist fight or two and no one would walk away happy, much less off into the sunset with their true love. *sigh*

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  5. Yes, I'm a character person too and I think it's especially important with dystopias because you have to live through them to get the impact/feel rewarded with their struggle. The insta-love is also a turn off. Hmm..I'm thinking this one is probably not worth my time.

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  6. I liked this one a bit more than you did, but we had problems with the same things. I did like Gray from the start, but I just never fully connected to him and that's always a problem for me. Emma was a massive problem for me though, and while I appreciated it wasn't insta love on Gray's part, I didn't understand her sudden change of heart. Especially given she seemed to be interested in Blaine. Also, what she does later in the book pissed me off to no end. Still, like you said, there are some thrilling moments, and I am curious to see what will happen to Gray. I'm not excited about a love triangle coming into play in the next book, but I'm glad it didn't really develop in this one.

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  7. Your review seems to be the norm for this one. Most people don't like Gray, I must be the weirdo because I actually did! I didn't love him, especially at first but I did really warm up to him and like him by the ending of the book.

    Great honest, thoughtful review!

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  8. Great review, Maja. I was tempted to request this one, and now I'm glad I didn't. The love rectangles turning up in books now frustrate me too.

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  9. I haven't read this yet but I have to say, the cover nor the description really gripped me. I know exactly what you mean, the Characters mean more to me than the concept itself. They are what build it and if it doesn't flow then... If I was in your position I would probably would have given up! Lovely review Maja.

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  10. Aww, I am so sorry that you didn't enjoy this one, Maja! I have seen this on a few blogs but never really been interested as there haven't been many "WOW" reviews. The synopsis didn't really intrigue me either. I like the cover though :)Thanks for the honest review.

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  11. Well, that's disappointing.
    I had high hopes for this, but I think now, I am going to just pass it up
    GREAT review, Maja, as always
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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  12. This doesn't really sound like it's for me-- I'm not a fan of the love rectangle either. Gray sounds like a TERRIBLE character, and well, I hate when things are over complicated. I'm sorry that this wasn't the book for you, Maja. Awesome review!

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  13. Yeah.. I was tempted at first by Blythe's 5 star review (or was it 4.. I don't know... but she raved about that book) but as more and more reviews start trickling in I'm realizing that this is not a Bonnie-book. A love rectangle?? I love that you called it a rectangle and not a square :P

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  14. I am supposed to review this but after all the negative reviews I am so not excited. I keep hearing that Gray is a pain in the ass character and the introduction of a love triangle is just yucky. Hey at least there is not cliffhanger that is a plus!

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  15. Ah... I'm with you on the romance stuff. Enough already! :P

    I love a good world building but need to connect to the characters. I can keep reading a book that has a good world hoping for the characters to connect. Sometimes that happens... so I will wait to see what is said about the second before I commit to this series. Sorry it wasn't for you.

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  16. I am SO glad I DNFed this one, because I know it wouldn't have gotten better. At the point where I stopped I just couldn't be bothered, but I think it would have pushed into loathing by the end. Like you, I am all about the characters. I can forgive most things for awesome characters, but without them a book has to be REALLY strong for me to enjoy it.

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  17. I disliked Grey with a fiery passion. The love-triangle is just grr, because it's disgusting to think about two girls fighting for the dirtbag's affections. However, I don't find what Emma did was wrong. Grey was gone for 2 months, and Emma and that guy thought he was dead. Of course she's going to seek comfort and companionship from someone she's familiar with, especially being in such a foreign place. I just wish she'd have a backbone with Grey the Douche. But, at the same time, it's weird that she would even do the deed with that guy, after all the stuff she said to Grey about not wanting to procreate. She wouldn't even slate with anyone in Claysoot. I don't know if the author meant to do this or what, but it's very contradictory. The more I think about it, the more I think I won't read the 2nd one.

    lol - longest comment ever! Sorry :D

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  18. Characters are everything to me too. Very rarely do I enjoy a book if I can't connect with the characters. I'm pretty sure this one isn't for me. Grey doesn't seem to have many fans, and from all the different things I've heard about him, I can't say I want to meet him any time soon. Sorry this didn't do it for you, Maja, but great review.

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  19. Instalove AND love rectangles? *gags* I have yet to read a single positive review for this one, so I know I definitely won't be reading it. It's a shame, though, as the idea itself is so alluring, but execution is ultimately what counts. I hope you have better luck with your next read, Maja!

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  20. nice to see different sides of review. Eak, a month, yeah that usually happens to me if a book is going too slow. Instalove isn't one of my favorites, I agree it would make me gag a bit :(

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  21. I'm scared! I've been hearing mixed reviews about this book a lot lately. I'm a huge Publishing Crawl blog fan, so I already pre-ordered this book. So ... fingers crossed I enjoy it! I think it comes down to whether or not I end up liking Gray. Instalove scares me. That's never a good sign. Great review! (Even if it makes me worry)

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  22. I read another review similar to this one...definitely tells me I won't like this book. I'm a big character person so not liking the MC (or any of the other people) is kind of a bad sign for me. hah And love shapes of any kind are really annoying...I want relationships to be more NORMAL in books.

    -Lauren

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  23. Well at least it has a decent conclusion... I have read a lot of reviews for this one and when I pick it up I'm sure I'll have low expectations. Since I already have a copy I'll give it a shot but we'll see how I feel...

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  24. I've been reading review like this for Taken lately. Most people seem to dislike Gray. The mention of a love-triangle, quadrangle or whatever has me running for the hills, Maya! I'm sick, sick, sick of them!!! Thanks for the honest review. :)

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  25. Jenny reviewed this one and didn't really fall in love with it either. I guess I may just take this one off my wishlist if it took you a month to finish reading this one on and off. I especially don't like that there's insta-love and a love rectangle in this one.

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  26. I had all but given up on this one after setting it aside (it just wasn't grabbing me), and I recently decided to pick it up again. I think you hit the nail on the head—it's a thrill ride, but the characters are severely lacking. I don't feel anything for Gray at all, and that prevents me from enjoying the thrills as much as I would like. I'll reserve judgment on the rest of it until I'm done, but I'm not hopeful that it's going to get much better. It's kind of sad when one of the biggest selling points in a book is that there's no cliffy, but I'll take what encouragement I can get to just finish it. :D Amazing, thoughtful review, Maja. Thanks for sharing!

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  27. Love rectangles! LOLOL. Next please.

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  28. Awww, so sorry this one didn't work for you. Sad that there wasn't something there for the reason you stuck to it. I was hoping you were going to say you were happy you did. Bummer to hear otherwise.

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