Monday, April 08, 2013

Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Erin Bowman
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publication date: April 16th 2013
by HarperTeen

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?
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-

Such a shame especially that up until almost halfway I would have given this book a good 3 stars. It has such a unique premise with a super intriguing world that could have been awesome had it been executed much better. Unfortunately with an insufferable protagonist, the world building and plot were all that this book had left, and after seeing the halfway mark come and go, I realized that in both of these aspects it was beginning to fail miserably--and it didn't stop.

Gray Weathersby is not a likeable MC. I was forewarned from other readers, though, so I knew to expect a douche who hits girls (he punches ones several times in the opening chapter), and is overall an arse. Thus it did not come as a shock when I didn't find myself in love with him. Still, I expected to come to understand him by the end. This did not happen. If only his behaviour would at least improve, but as the story progresses he only gets more annoying: thinking he's much better than he is (he's pretty full of himself); making demands when he's trapped in a risky situation with people who would--and want to--kill him (toopid); or saying things like:

"All those times that I felt things for Bree, anytime there was even the slightest feeling of affection growing, I'd brushed it aside for Emma" -- As if this made him such a gentleman, someone who dances in fidelity's good graces. *snorts*

Now for the world building, or the whole plot, really. Well, to be honest, it literally made me nauseous I wanted it to end so badly--so I think it's safe to say it's full of barf? It starts off with such a great premise too. It arouses many questions from the mysteries surrounding their lives--this heist thing truly had me fascinated for a bit--but then it all goes downhill when we start getting some less than interesting answers. Plus, it gets increasingly predictable the further you read, making it all the less exciting. It's like the plot simply becomes too crowded. Everything is a twist, no character is who you think they are; it's a little overwhelming, and not in a good way. Then there are a lot of little quirks along the way that only ground my dissatisfaction further: How, for example, they arrive in a withering post apocalyptic town where we're told they have to ration water and supplies, but the first thing the people in charge do is give Emma a makeover: face make-up to the max, eyebrow tweeze, high heels etc. What is up with that? I can see dystopians where this might work--Like Fever by Lauren Destefano--but it did not fit in the world we see beyond these wall. It only felt illogical. Then, how about when towards the end we have this deus ex machina who conveniently helps them along in an impossibly tight situation. This person was a nobody, came from nowhere, and was dismissed and forgotten after saving their asses... Sure these might seem minimal when taken individually, but these were just a few examples and everything together makes a mess of this plot. It was a good premise... until it wasn't.

I'm not even going to go into the horrid love triangle. I still have not recovered.

I've read a lot of dystopians, and maybe it's part of why this one annoyed me so much, but in the end I found it was nothing more than that: a regurgitated dystopian novel. But it tries so hard. So so hard. Let's all give it a moment of silence.

1 Cold Espresso