Taken - Erin Bowman *Genre* YA Dysopian*Rating* 3.0*Review*Taken, the first novel in the Taken series by Erin Bowman, has pretty much divided readers into three separate camps; those who absolutely loved it, those who hated it and gave up on it, and those who are clearly in the middle in that we don't hate it, but we don't really love it either. I am firmly in the middle of that equation in that I didn't hate it, but it wasn't the best Dystopian novel I've read either especially with the twisted love triangle which I abhor.I will be totally honest with you; when I requested this title from Edelweiss/Harper Collins, I thought Taken was either going to be about a group of aliens that swooped down and took all the men from Claysoot when they turned 18 in what's known as the Heist, or they were killed off by vampires who needed their blood in order to survive. I know that I'm a wee bit off my rocker folks. No need to remind me! Seriously, how could you NOT think that after reading the synopsis and learning that the residents of Claysoot live behind a wall and anyone caught trying to escape is thrown back....dead? The truth behind the disappearances, however, is much more deliberate and complex than you can imagine. What was interesting to me is that the more we learned about the residents and how they got there in the first place without any sort of memories of where they came from, the more I started to think of them as nothing more than test subjects ripe for the pickings by maniacal mad men. Our main character is Gray Weathersby who is, by all definitions, an angry guy. I mean, who can really blame the guy knowing that when his brother Blaine turns 18, he will be Heisted and taken away forever and the girl he actually feels something for, Emma, has never shown him any interest other than amusement and scorn. He's been lied to his entire life by not only his mother, but his brother and everyone else who knew his secret. He even gets into a fight with a girl and nearly gets his ass kicked save for his brothers interference. I'm sure that pill will be hard to swallow for some readers.Gray has a little bit of Katniss in him in that he loves to hunt with a bow and arrow and is really good at it. So good, in fact, that he trades his catch for goods. But Gray is also mischievous in that when he finds out a shocking secret about himself, he goes looking for answers and in turn, trouble when he goes over the Wall. Therein likes the rub. When he does run, and goes over the wall, he finds out more than he could ever imagine. His eyes are opened to the actual world in which he lives in and what he finds can never be put back into a bottle. Did anyone compare this book to The Hunger Games by any chance while reading or was it only me? For those that actually read and finished this book, think about it for a moment. This book is centered around a country that is split into AMEast (Taem) and AMWest. The Hunger Games was set in Panem. Same country, same apparent devastating war that tore the country apart.I found myself comparing the two books when certain information came to light that there were different Groups (Districts) that were formed by the evil genius named Frank to cull out the strongest among the survivors of the Second World War. There was even a Group (District) that had apparently wiped itself out not unlike District 13 in the Hunger Games or so we were told. Now, here is where I am going to split with my illustrious fellow bloggers and reviewers. There is a twisted love triangle that appears in this book between Gray, Emma Link, and Brianna (Bree) Nox that really isn't resolved to my liking by the time all is said and done.As I said before, Gray has always loved Emma but the love was not returned. Even though they were slated to be together by the Council and escaped Claysool together, they were never formally together together because that's NOT what Emma wanted. After Gray escapes Taem, he finds a spunky, hard nosed rebel in Bree but continually thinks about returning and saving Emma. Upon returning to find Emma, Gray learns that Emma has cheated on him with another guy thinking that Gray was dead. Gray then finds that he is growing in feelings towards Bree when he has unresolved issues and feelings for Emma who, in my opinion, didn't necessitate a second chance with Gray. Overall, this book does have some issues but it wasn't terrible. I think the world building was done in such a manner that you understand what happened to the country these characters live in even though they clearly don't. You understand the angst of not knowing if you are going to be Heisted away at any moment, or whether or not AmWest will attack with chemical weapons. There's the harsh reality that people are living under a genuine villain who keeps them under his thumb and only rewards those of his own Order. In that aspect, Frank is similar in nature to the Governor from The Walking Dead. In closing, I will most likely read the next book in the series because I want to learn more about the Groups and what choice Gray ends up making in the end between Emma and Bree.*ARC recvd via Edelweiss 11/19/2012* Expected publication: April 16th 2013 by HarperTeen