I am continuing to work my way through the awesome debuts for the panel at work next Saturday. Thus far, I'm impressed and excited to meet the authors. I'm just under halfway through the list but looking forward to continuing.
The book I've just finished is Erin Bowman's Taken. The ARCs showed up at work and I snagged one but hadn't gotten to it until yesterday. The idea intrigued me but things kept coming up. I'm glad I finally dove in.
This book strikes me as Mockingjay meets The Giver. I'm not sure how anyone feels about that. I know Mockingjay isn't most people's favorite Hunger Games book and The Giver is sort of beloved (though I really didn't like it when I read it but that was almost twelve years ago). There's a little bit of The Host thrown in there too (mostly the caves). It's kind of an odd combination but Bowman really makes it work.
Our protagonist is Gray. I have to admit that I didn't immediately realize that the narrator was going to be male. But I was pleasantly surprised by how well his voice came across. He alternates between seeming older and just his age. It would be startling but the situation that he's in requires him to be older, so it works. Gray is rash and emotional and clever. He jumps into things without seeming to think things through but he's generally prepared to face the consequences. He comes across very likeable and natural. I didn't have any eye-rolling out of character moments with him.
Emma sets him up in such contrast to his brother Blaine that I wish we could have seen them together more. I wanted to see how they interacted and balanced each other out. I think it would given Blaine's heist a bigger impact. We would have felt it more. That being said the facts of the two brothers, Blaine's daughter and Gray's resistance to the slatings says a great deal about their differences without them needing to be pointed out.
We see a fair amount of Emma in the beginning when she and Gray first get together. She's clever and curious and brave. She is willing to risk everything to follow Gray over the Wall. Her affection for him seemed to grow very naturally. I was really impressed with her.
Bree, I wish we could have gotten more on. She is a lot like Gray and the two of them have some really excellent banter but I didn't feel like I got to know her as well as I did Emma. I look forward to seeing more of her. Seeing her interact with other characters more.
I have grown weary of love triangles. I won't refuse to pick up a book, or anything like that, but they often seem really unnecessary. In Taken it works. It doesn't come up until the end, so I'd guess it'll figure more prominently in the second book. The characters fall naturally into the triangle. It makes sense. I can see Gray being angry with Emma, I was angry with Emma, but not being ready to let her go. And I can see why he's drawn to Bree, how she wouldn't be easy to drop either. It makes sense.
I really like the society that Bowman set up. It's well thought out with the slatings and the way the Heist happens. The domed cities are a nice touch. The elements of the different areas and how they play off of each other come together well. I think it will be interesting to explore how the war with AmWest is driving the characters to do insane things. I'm interested to see how deep Bowman is willing to go into what makes humanity.
The different testing camps makes me think of the different districts and their different upbringings. I think it will be interesting to see how the other groups come together and what sort of characters we'll be introduced to.
Overall, I think Taken is a pretty solid Dystopian. I give it a rating of Epic.
Have any of you read it? Were you thinking about it? You should.
Next I'm picking up Justina Ireland's Vengeance Bound. The idea is intriguing so I am looking forward to starting it.
Until next time!