Taken is the story of Gray Weathersby, seventeen years old, and one of the oldest male residents of Claysoot. When each boy reaches his eighteenth birthday, he is stolen from the town in what the villagers refer to as the Heist. No one knows what happens to these boys, if they are alive or dead. When Gray’s brother, Blaine, is Heisted on his eighteenth birthday, Gray is left alone. His father was Heisted years ago, and his mother died after an illness. When Gray finds part of a mysterious letter from his mother to Blaine that hints at some secret they have kept from him, he decides to start looking for answers. What he finds drives him to climb the Wall that surrounds Claysoot. No one has ever survived climbing the Wall. Everyone who attempts the escape is returned, dead and burned beyond recognition. Clay is followed in his search for answers by Emma, daughter of the local medic. What they find on the other side of the Wall will shake every belief Gray has grown up with.
Yes, this is a YA novel, and yes, I don’t normally read YA. I find a lot of them a bit unsatisfying. I can’t say that about Taken. I enjoyed the book from start to finish. The dystopian world that Claysoot inhabits is well-drawn and believable. Characters have depth and personality. Gray, in particular, is for me, a refreshing character. He’s obnoxious at times, stubborn most of the time, and makes his decisions based more on feeling than on thinking. In other words, he’s a teenage boy. By the time the story ends, he’s shown growth and has changed some, but he stays true to the perception of a boy his age, without being overly stereotypical. Supporting characters are also realistic, and there are many who turn out to be more than they seem at first.
The plot is nicely done. The explanation for the Heist is believable within the story. Action moves at a good pace, and keeps the pages turning. The ending wraps up the Heist story, yet leaves the way open for the sequel.
Although I can’t say I have read a lot of YA novels, Taken ranks among the best of the ones I have read. Fans of dystopian tales with a sci-fi twist should enjoy it. I am looking forward to the next book.