Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taken Hostage

When survival is your primary focus, it is hard to think about the things you can't control. But when your boys are Heisted, it makes life particularly difficult to deal with. In Erin Bowman's dystopia, Taken, life in Claysoot isn't enough for Gray, especially when his Heist looms so close. 

In Claysoot, all boys are Heisted when they turn 18. The citizens of the town have no control over the Heist, but they know they lose their boys before they have the opportunity to become men. When Gray watches his brother, Blaine, be Heisted, he refuses to accept the loss of his brother and his own impending Heist. Although he is slated to the one girl he can see himself with forever, he knows forever isn't an option in Claysoot. The boys must be active before their Heist in order to keep the population going. And Emma isn't interested in keeping the population going when all that they have to look forward to is grief and loss. But Gray refuses to just accept their fate. He wants to see what is over the wall despite the charred bodies that always come back. But he expected to go alone.

When Emma follows Gray over the wall, he is mad at her for risking her life at first, but then he realizes how lucky he is to have her with him. They don't know what to expect from over the wall, but it certainly wasn't what they found- another civilization. A domed city full of people and run by a man trying to save the people of Claysoot is more than Gray and Emma could have ever hoped for, but their story isn't that simple. There is more to Frank, the leader of the dome, than he cares to share with them. Emma and Gray's skepticism is what will keep them alive, but it is also what will put them in danger. With layers and layers of deceit and lies surrounding their lives, Gray feels like the unraveling of one layer only leads him to more confusion. But he will get to the truth, even if it means risking everything he has ever cared for. 

I actually thought this was a really good dystopia. With so many books in the genre popping up, it is hard to weed out the bad from the fabulous, but this book is firmly in the pretty good section. There was a point when I had a difficult time keeping all the different layers of lies and deceit together, but you just have to read each new pack explanations with skepticism, the same way Gray did. Trust no one, and you might have a chance. I also liked that the story didn't end perfectly. There were some great sacrifices and some realistic situations (like when Emma thought Gray was dead) that made the book seem more practical for me. Those situations certainly ticked me off as I was reading the book, but in retrospect, I appreciated being surprised by such a familiar genre and not knowing what to expect next. 

This is a great story for any age/grade, and it would be best for a somewhat strong reader, since there are subtle situations that might be missed with a struggling reader. It is broken into three distinct stories, which gives the book three nice breaks in the action to recoup and soldier on. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to seeing where it goes next. The story ends on a cliffhanger, but it isn't the kind of cliffhanger that leaves you fuming. It was a nice break that will have you pre-ordering the next book as soon as it is available. So overall, I thought this was a great start to a promising series and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

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