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Taken

Taken - Erin Bowman This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.

I was SO excited for Taken. The awesome cover. The incredible-sounding synopsis that had my mind reeling at the possibilities. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the book, while it had its entertaining moments, didn't quite meet them. I know I shouldn't compare every book to The Hunger Games, especially since Suzanne Collins didn't invent the YA dystopia genre, but it was hard not to think of the Reaping when I hear the term "the Heist." Both have more common definitions but sound ominous and sinister when used out of context. And both accomplish a similar task: culling the ranks of young people in a society. We know that the Reaping is a form of punishment and crowd control, but what exactly is the Heist? It must be caused by something either supernatural or man-made. I hoped that the answer would live up to the premise, but I'm not quite sure that it did.

Gray's journey to uncover the purpose of the Heist and to find out what lies over the wall is set in motion when he finds a part of a letter from his mother that conveniently ends RIGHT on the important part. It's a bit of an eye-rolling moment, and I wish that Bowman had chosen another tactic. When we find out who is holding the second page of the letter, I was lost. Why did this person still have this piece of the letter, other than to give the reader a chance to learn the information contained within it? And why was it separated in the first place? It was hidden very well, and if the goal was to provide Gray with the necessary clues to discover the mystery of the Heist, then why not provide him with the whole letter? Of course, the story would have been a lot shorter, but that's not a great reason. If I've missed something here, please let me know.

The love triangle was both unnecessary and not well-executed. I did have a preference for one of the girls, but there didn't seem to be any genuine spark between Gray and either girl. Love triangles in YA are so prevalent that I wonder if authors are forced to include them. When they're well-done, they're great, but when they're not, they are a serious detraction from the story.

I feel like I've been awfully critical of a book that I've rated with three stars. Despite the flaws, Bowman writes suspense well, and there were plenty of times I was surprised - always a good thing. I will read the sequel to Taken, perhaps with lowered expectations, and I look forward to seeing where Bowman takes her characters next.

Note - I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.