I focus primarily on Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Children's books, but my tastes are eclectic, so I change things up frequently!
I'd heard mixed reviews prior to picking up Erin Bowman's Taken, but the colorful cover and intriguing premise proved too intriguing to avoid for long - thank goodness - because I ended up really enjoying this first installment of the Taken books.
The story is narrated by Gray Weathersby, a teen-aged boy who has grown up in the curious town of Claysoot. The town is surrounded by a wall, but whether the wall keeps danger out, protecting the inhabitants, or keeps the people of Claysoot in, trapping them, is up for debate. When Gray's older brother, Blaine, is heisted, mysteriously disappearing from Claysoot like every boy in the settlement at the age of eighteen, Gray starts to question what he knows (and doesn't know) about Claysoot and ends up finding answers he's never dreamed of.
I really liked Gray as a narrator. Given the premise of the novel, Taken would have been a very different novel if told from the point of view of a female inhabitant of Claysoot. I found especially interesting the idea that the boys in the community are "slated" to various girls, month by month, to ensure the continuation of Claysoot's population. I can't say for sure what goes through the head of a teen boy who is faced with forcibly playing musical, uh, beds with the girls in his community, but I felt Gray's reaction was pretty genuine. On one hand, he's a teen boy who enjoys spending the night with girls and all that entails, but he also hates that he's forced to do anything and struggles with the fact that he might have real feelings for one girl in particular. Outside the wall, things change dramatically for Gray, but I felt that the romantic elements of the novel - specifically the discussion and focus on what love is, how it feels, and the confusion that comes with it - to be engaging and well-executed.
I very much looking forward to Bowman's next book, which promises the reader more answers about Claysoot and the (*spoilery*) information revealed in Taken. I wish I could say more about what I think and hope will happen in the next book, but I can't say much without revealing important elements of Taken's plot! Suffice to say, book two has the potential to blow the revelations revealed in Taken away!