Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
If you’re a big fan of The Hunger Games, but wanted to read a book that featured Gale as the protagonist, you’re going to like Gray Weathersby. Gray, the main character in Erin Bowman’s TAKEN, is trapped in a walled town that is impossible to escape from, he hunts for food with a bow, wants to protect his brother at all costs, and is counting down the days until his brother is Heisted and taken from the town forever.
The beginning of TAKEN is pretty fantastic. As more details are revealed about Claysoot and The Heist, it’s impossible not to rage with Gray at the injustice of it all. The inevitability of a life cut short and an entire town of people beaten down and forced to accept it. Life is harsh and dictated to ensure the survival of the town. Love is a foreign concept since all the boys are Heisted at eighteen. Instead they are added into a rotation and ‘Slated’ to a different girl each month in order to maintain the population. Gray has been slated to a few girls, but never the one he secretly wants, the girl who always seems to have smiles for his brother.
That leads me to one of the big flaws in TAKEN: the love triangle. I personally enjoy a good love triangle. This wasn’t a good one. Gray’s fickle emotions make him come off as a jerk. He waffles back and forth so many times and in such a short span of time that I lost most the respect that he’d earned in the beginning. Typically, it’s the girl who can’t decided between two guys and bounces back forth, but with a guy doing it, it’s no less off putting.
The other big problem with TAKEN, which the love triangle suffers from too, is the pacing. It is was too fast. There are a lot a big changes that occur in this book that require substantial character shifts. The problem is that they are so rushed that the believably is severely strained. Can you imagine the events of The Hunger Games trilogy all smashed into one book? That’s how TAKEN feels. Really, this book should have been cut into three and adequate room given for the characters to breathe and transform gradually. As it was, Gray barely had time to process something before he was hurtled into a completely new mindset. It was pretty jarring.
Despite the problematic pacing/character development issues, I am giving TAKEN a recommendation. The beginning starts out as strong as any dystopian I’ve read, and the premise shares some similarities with The Hunger Games without ripping it off. Be warned, if you’re not a fan of love triangles, you definitely won’t enjoy the romance. And even if you are, this one is tough to swallow. The second book in the Taken trilogy will be out in 2014.
Kissing. References to sex