A guy looks back as he and a girl walk across a colorful glass floor, with a bare tree in upside-down in the sky.

About the Book

Title: Taken (Taken #1)
Published: 2013

Cover Story: Oof
BFF Charm: Aw Hell No
Talky Talk: Who Am I Talking to Today?
Bonus Factors: Teen Dad
Relationship Status: We Have a Personalities Clash

Cover Story: Oof

What words can I use for this cover? Oh, wait, I have some: Derivative. Boring. Physics-defying. Why is there a tree in the sky? And why have they made poor Claysoot look as if it’s been re-tiled by something on sale at the Home Depot?

I will say that the actual font and title of this book have a great little play on the actual plot of the story. So that’s…something, right?

The Deal:

Gray and Blaine Weathersby are brothers living in the small town of Claysoot, a hard-done-by area where no one seems to be above the age of 50 and there are no men at all. Boys, yes; there are plenty of boys, but each one disappears the day he turns 18. 

Blaine, the older brother, is “Heisted” on the eve of his 18th birthday, leaving his brother Gray all alone. But when Gray finds a letter from his mother, hinting at a secret that Blaine knew, Gray figures he has to scale the Wall surrounding Claysoot and try to find some answers.  But he isn’t prepared for Emma, the girl he loves, to come after him.

Now Gray and Emma are outside of Claysoot for the first time, and the secrets they learn have them wondering just who to trust.

BFF Charm: Aw Hell No

Hell No BFF Charm in Flames

UGH, I hated Gray so much. He’s obnoxiously self-absorbed and whines constantly. He’s also a girl-hitting, sexist, slut-shaming misogynist (which is particularly sad since, hello, he has no grown-up male influences to teach him this shit) and he spends roughly 80% of the book pouting like a little kid whose lollipop was taken away. 

He also has a rigid morality that leads him to look down on just about everyone, even though literally EVERYONE IN THE BOOK is smarter, faster, funnier and cooler than him. I HATE HIM SO MUCH, Y’ALL.  Flames! On the side of my face! Burning…heaving breasts!

Swoonworthy Scale:  -12

I would like to present a haiku:

Dear YA Authors,

Those love triangles you like?

Can it already.

I am so sick of love triangles, y’all! Why are they so prevalent in YA literature? Is it really someone’s dream to have two people in love with them at once? Because that just sounds exhausting to me. I can barely handle a relationship with one person, but two? Two people with all their affection and their flirting and their, like, limbs? Ugh!

So anyway, yes, there’s a useless love triangle in this book. Who will Gray choose? Emma, who he has loved (for no real reason that I can ascertain) all his life? Or Bree, the wise-cracking insta-love candidate who is tough as nails and shares a name with some tasty cheese?  WHO WILL HE CHOOSE? Oh, who cares? 

Beyond the stupid love triangle bullshit, Gray is just so horrible of a person that I actually look down on Emma and Bree for liking him. I mean, ladies. Look at your life; look at your choices. Have you even slept with this guy?

Talky Talk: Who Am I Talking To Today?

My main issue with Taken was not the unlikable protagonist or even the love triangle. No, the real problem with Taken is that it contains the plots to about five separate novels and, as a consequence, does justice to absolutely none of them. Is this a dystopia? A hero’s quest? A political thriller? Yes. It is all of those things, but it can’t accurately manage to make even one of them seem compelling. I felt as if Bowman didn’t exactly know what book she intended to write, and thought her time was limited, so she just felt like throwing them all into one novel. And while certain things are lovely all jumbled together—stews! Lush bath bombs!—this novel was just a full on Monet.

Bonus Factor: Teen Dads

Woman looking at a pregnancy test

So, obviously, Teen Dads are not a real-life bonus factor. Obviously! Have safe sex, y’all! (Though, you know, if you are a teenage boy who has just impregnated a teenage girl and she decides to keep the baby, then you best step your ass up, yo.)

That being said, the boys in Claysoot are basically farmed out to the teenage girls in town, in the interest of ensuring population growth.  It’s totally awkward and Bowman could have really gone somewhere interesting with the idea of boys having kids and then disappearing from the face of the earth (literally!), but sadly she didn’t.

Relationship Status: We Have a Personalities Clash

Here’s the problem, Book. We’re just having an old-fashioned personalities clash. In that I only have one personality, and you apparently have about 18 of them. And I hate almost all of them!  And considering I could barely finish our first date without yawning, I am definitely not interested in seeing you again. Sorry; it’s not me. It’s you. And you. And you.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from HarperTeen. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Taken is available now.

Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.