Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman (Taken book 1)

“In the primitive town of Claysoot, if you are a man, a brother, son , father – Be prepared: When midnight breaks on the day you turn eighteen, the Heist will take you.”
Claysoot was founded forty-seven years ago by children after a mysterious storm devastated the town. Friends and neighbors became strangers overnight as only siblings remembered one another. Before chaos took over, Bo Chilton led the effort to rebuild the town. The residents soon discovered a Wall surrounded the community. Bo couldn’t see what lay on the other side because of the darkness. Several residents attempted to climb the Wall but their bodies came back badly burned. Bo was the reason the children of Claysoot thrived.
One morning, Bo went missing. Even though a body was never found, everyone assumed that he was dead. A few months later, another boy disappeared and a week later, one more. Bo’s younger sister Maude noticed something in common relating to the missing boys and decided to test her theory. When the next boy in Claysoot was on the eve of his eighteenth birthday, everyone gathered around him and waited. Soon the ground shook, the sky lit up and the boy was gone. They repeated the experiment for the next several birthdays and the same thing occurred. No men live in Claysoot because they all disappear on their eighteenth birthday due to the Heist.
Gray Weathersby is dreading his seventeenth birthday. He shares it with his older brother Blaine who will turn eighteen and disappear during the Heist. Always the rational one, Blaine holds it together on his last day while Gray is having a difficult time. He will be left without any family. Blaine’s daughter will be his one connection. Getting onto a fight with Chalice that morning, Blaine finally talks Gray into getting his face stitched up. Going to the clinic, he finds that Carter is out but her daughter Emma is there. Having had a crush on her forever, he knows Emma likes Blaine better. She gives him something to numb the pain and he wakes up hours later. Realizing he has almost missed telling his brother goodbye one last time, Emma helps him to the town center. Blaine comforts Gray and tells him that they will meet again. Then he is gone due to the Heist.
Gray’s loss hits him two weeks later. When Chalice knocks on the door to inform him that Maude wants to see him, he slams the door shut. He inadvertently knocks a framed drawing of Blaine’s off of the wall. The frame is broken but Gray notices a second piece of parchment. It is a letter from his mother to Blaine that she wrote on her death bed. She writes that Blaine must uncover the truth about the Heists and Wall. The letter suddenly ends with “Gray is, in fact –“ The rest of the letter is missing. Gray then finds Blaine’s journal and reads the entry about their mother’s death. A cryptic entry talks about how fortunate he is to still have gray sheds no more light on the mystery. Gray is boiling with resentment that he was left alone without any answers. Suddenly he remembers that he needs to go to Maude’s house.
At the age of fifteen, boys in Claysoot are considered men. The council led by Maude matched boys to girls for one month in order to conceive more children before their Heist. Maude informs him that his mourning period is over and he is slated to be with Emma Link for the next month. Not waiting to be told what to do, Gray would rather something happen naturally between the two of them. He wants Emma but bot if she is forced onto him. Rumor has it that Emma has turned down all of her slatings. He heads to the clinic and blurts out the news to Emma. She immediately turns him down but Gray lets her know that he has no interest in being a father. He proposes a deal. Play the game for one month. He could possibly persuade the council into several more after that to keep them off of their backs. She agrees and asks him what he would like to go. Gray is pained when Emma smiles at him. Emma decides that they should spend the afternoon at the pond.
After talking about their mutual dislike for the slatings, Emma apologizes for the way she has judged him in the past. Gray is different from his brother and maybe for the first time, she realizes that it is not a bad thing. Trying to lighten the mood, Gray decides to go swimming. Eventually, Emma joins him. They splash around and after several dunkings, Gray concedes to Emma being the better swimmer. Next time they will have an archery match. Emma says that it is not fair and asks Gray to teach her. They make plans to spend more time together and head back into town. Gray grabs Emma’s hand as they walk by some of the council members for show.
Happy for the first time that he is spending time with Emma; his mother’s letter is never far from his mind. Looking through everything in the house turns up nothing and Gray continues to be haunted. After decidedly winning the archery match, Gray is shocked when Emma asks him if he ever questioned what originally happened in Claysoot. What happened to the parents and how could the children remember survival skills but not the names of their neighbors? Gray believes that maybe the early histories are incomplete but that she does have a point. Feeling comfortable around her but still hoping for more, he shows her the letter that his mother left behind. Gray then asks is he could see his mother’s chart at the clinic. They make plans for the next day.
After reading through his mother’s, Blaine’s and his own medical scrolls, no new information comes to light. When Emma looks through her mother’s notebook for the year Blaine was born, they find an entry that rocks Gray to his very core!
Why do all of the males of Claysoot disappear on their eighteenth birthday? What happens during the Heist? What lies beyond the Wall? What secret did his mother and Blaine keep from Gray? Will Emma open her heart to Gray? And can Emma and Gray discover the secrets of Claysoot before his eighteenth birthday?
Readers will find that Taken has so many more layers than just the story of Claysoot and the Heist. With chapters ending as cliffhangers, unexpected twists and turns and a great male POV, I absolutely adored this book and cannot recommend it enough. Book two in the trilogy, Frozen, doesn’t come out until 2014. Readers will definitely be left satisfied with how the book ends and waiting to see what comes next.

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