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Taken

Review

Taken

Edward Bloor is one of those authors whose novels always make me feel uneasy --- in a good way. Confronting readers with uncomfortable subject matter --- from the surreal family and school dynamics in TANGERINE to the nightmarish educational system in STORY TIME to the explorations of violence, racism and media in CRUSADER --- Bloor's novels never let readers be complacent. His newest effort, TAKEN, is no exception and may turn out to be his most insightful book to date.

Bloor's previous work of fiction, LONDON CALLING, explored the hidden facets of world history. TAKEN, on the other hand, is set in a terrifying future world. At the novel's opening, it's New Year's Day, 2036. Charity Meyers wakes up with no idea where she is and little recognition of how she got there. Trapped on a gurney in the back of an ambulance, Charity can only reach one conclusion: she's been taken.

Being taken, or kidnapped, is the worst fear of all the children in The Highlands, the ultra-exclusive, securely gated Florida community where Charity lives. Her father, a famous dermatologist and inventor, and her stepmother, a video personality who evaluates experiences solely on whether they'll make good reality TV, have moved to The Highlands in order to keep Charity --- and their huge pile of valuable currency --- safe.

Despite many layers of security, including armed butlers who escort the children to their satschool, Charity and her classmates live in fear of being taken by kidnappers, who usually demand large sums of money as ransom from the children's wealthy parents. But Charity has done her research, and she knows that even when children are returned safely following a successful ransom drop, they are rarely ever the same after having been taken.

Charity consoles herself by thinking over the events of the past few weeks, remembering her safe Highlands life, her best friend and her family. But when hours pass and Charity still has not been rescued, she begins to suspect that her own kidnapping is not a routine abduction. Once she realizes by whom she's been taken --- and why --- Charity's whole insulated life is turned upside down forever.

Bloor's futuristic, dystopian novel, like many classics in this genre, starts with a present-day reality (in this case, the growing economic and social divide in the United States between the "haves" and the "have-nots") and extrapolates it to truly horrific extremes. Although there is plenty of social commentary here, Bloor also makes Charity a compelling, credible character whose circumstances force her into numerous ethical dilemmas.

All this is not to say, however, that TAKEN is some dry philosophical exploration of the divide between rich and poor in this country. On the contrary, TAKEN is one of the most absorbing, and surprising, mystery novels of this year. Careful readers may pick up on some of the clues (here's a hint --- characters' names are important both for theme and for plot), but even some mystery lovers will be surprised not only by the motives for Charity's kidnapping but also by Charity's ultimate response to her own abduction (although again, without giving anything away, names are important…).

Simultaneously thought-provoking and terrifying, TAKEN exhibits Bloor's gift for insight --- although readers will come away hoping that, for our own sake, Bloor is not as prophetic as he might seem to be.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 9, 2007

Taken
by Edward Bloor

  • Publication Date: October 9, 2007
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375836365
  • ISBN-13: 9780375836367