Title: Taken (Taken #1)
Author: (website ★ twitter)
Pub. Date: April 16, 2013
Summary: 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?
Genre: YA, Dystopia
For the boys in Claysoot, “live fast, die young” is a way of life. No one knows how or why, but on a boy’s eighteenth birthday, he’s Heisted: completely wiped off the face of the earth with no trace. To ensure their society doesn’t die out, each month teens are slated, or paired up with one another in the hopes of, well, conceiving a child. The only love felt is between a mother and child; what’s the point of falling in love if a boy is going to vanish one day?
Life is hard in Claysoot, and for Gray Weathersby, it just got a whole lot harder. After his older brother Blaine is Heisted, Gray can’t function. His brother left behind a hole in Gray that can’t be filled and a pain that won’t fade over time (although Gray knows that in just one year he’ll be Heisted too). After his mother died, Blaine was the only family Gray had. Now he’s totally alone.
Despite a lifetime of horror stories about The Wall – those who attempt to climb over and escape return as charred bodies – Gray decides to climb and see if there’s more to life than his tiny town. An overheard conversation, along with a revealed secret, make him question his entire life. Determined, he leaves Claysoot followed by Emma, his long-time crush.
Taken ENRAGED me. When I first heard about this book it seemed like fun – not to mention it had a male protagonist! Within the first ten pages, however, I was entirely fed up and wanted to throw the book down. Gray is not a likable guy. At all. Or, sure, there are moments where he says or does something that were meant to make the reader feel sympathetic (he can’t bear the thought of going through with a slating and have a child who will grow up without a father, when the New Girl comes along Gray pushes all thoughts of her aside for Emma, etc), but ultimately fail.
There isn’t a single redeeming quality about Gray. Those first ten pages I just mentioned? They include an all-out fistfight with a girl. A girl made him angry, so he punched her. Multiple times. No. No, no, NO. This act of violence does absolutely nothing for the plot (other than point out what a dick Gray is) apart from showing Blaine is supposed to be the level-headed brother. Apparently in this case, level-headed means someone who doesn’t go around randomly punching girls.
Things go from bad to worse with this book. Gray hurts people (physically and emotionally) for the sake of hurting them, there are plot twists galore, and the writing suffers from a SEVERE case of telling, not showing.
I could rant about this book until I’m blue in the face, but I’ll leave you with this: don’t waste your time with Taken. Go find a copy of The Village and waste two hours with that movie instead.